January 2014 \ Diaspora News \ MOIA FEATURE

 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on January 9 every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa. He subsequently went on to lead India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003 (see box). These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the Government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.

During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India’s growth. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.

The decision to celebrate Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was taken in accordance with the recommendations of the High Level Committee (HLC) on the Indian Diaspora set up by the Government of India under the chairmanship of L. M. Singhvi. The Prime Minister, receiving the report of the Committee at a public function at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on January 8 2003 announced the "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas" on January 9 that year.

The 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas would be held during January 7–9, 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The Theme for this year is Engaging Diaspora: Connecting Across Generations.

According to Mr Prem Narain, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (see interview on page 12), this year a conscious decision has been taken to hold the Youth PBD on January 7. Two batches of the KIP youth will there, as will be those who are part of the Study India Programme (SIP). “We are trying to give them a feeling that we care. We want social and cultural bonds to flourish in years to come,” Mr Narain has said.

He added that the Youth PBD is also important because half of our own population (as per 11th Census of India) is below 25 years of age. “We want to engage the overseas Indian youth, and this platform will provide a good opportunity to engage in a better way. This time the exhibition will be held on a grand scale, we’ve had huge demand for exhibit space. We also will surpass previous registration records at this PBD.”