Dr Mulay

Dr D.N. Mulay who has overseen the preparations of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in Varanasi spoke to India Empire Magazine’s Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty on a range of issues concerning overseas Indians. This is the second PBD in a row under his charge as Secretary in the MEA.

1. The PBD is coming after two years. This time it is the Prime Minister’s constituency. How significant does this become in an election year?

Well I would say that the fact that it is in the Prime Minister’s constituency goes to show how much importance the Hon’ble PM is giving to this event. You have seen that Prime Ministers have been interacting with the diaspora on a regular basis over the years. Our current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has, however, really upgraded the engagement with the diaspora. There has been no visit of his abroad where he has not engaged with the diaspora. Whether it is in the Gulf countries, Far East, North America, Latin America—wherever he has gone he’s always made it a point to take part in a high level and high profile event involving the Indian diaspora. What happens in such cases is that it also attracts the attention of the local Government. The confidence of the Indian diaspora goes up. Even their stature in the eyes of the local Government is raised.

Coming back to Varanasi, this particular PBD is very significant not only because it is in PM’s constituency but also because this is a three-in-one event attached to the PBD. You have the PBD in Varanasi--the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world. That being the case, the PM’s constituency has also become an important place to showcase the development that has taken place. So, it will be a kind of a presentation of heritage alongside modernity. For Hindus, Varanasi has been a great pilgrimage place but it is also so for Muslims, Buddhists and Jains which is not so well known outside. Varanasi also typically represents the Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava which is a core Indian value. Also alongside the PBD we are also organizing a visit to the Kumbh. Those who wish to see and feel the Kumbh, have a snan, all of that will be facilitated. And thereafter all those who will be going to Kumbh will be brought by special Pravasi trains to participate and witness the Republic Day Parade. So these are the three elements, and I think it is a unique thing among all the PBDs so far. Republic Day is very important because that is where India showcases its development, its strategic power, socio-economic and cultural development. For us it is a very prestigious event. So, all in all this will be very, very unique. It is also the first time it is being held outside the Metros. Yes, PBDs have also been held at Kochi and Jaipur, but those are bigger cities.

For reading the rest of the interview click here.