Special Feature

November, 2002

The government of India has declared the 9th of January every year as the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas. On this day every year, the country will acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the Indian Diaspora worldwide.

The Indian Diaspora which is estimated to be 22 million strong includes first to the fifth generation Indians who emigrated from India. The Diaspora can be categorised as People of Indian Origin (PIO) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). PIOs have adopted the citizenship of another country while NRIs, who comprise a third of the total Diaspora, still carry an Indian passport. Today they account for an economic output of about $400 billion (Almost Rs 20,00,000 crore), an incredible four-fifth of India's economy.

January 9th 2003 will be the first Pravasi Bhartiya Divas with events in recognition of the day scheduled around the country. The day was chosen for the occasion as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi had returned to India from South Africa to lead the country's freedom struggle. In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs & FICCI are organising a three day event which will be attended by the prominent NRI's /PIO's from around the globe. According to a PTI report, representatives of the diaspora spread over 110 countries will meet at the function which is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpyaee. Besides the Prime Minister, the conference would be addressed by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh.

On the occasion, ten eminent Non-Resident Indians and People of Indian Origin would be awarded 'Bharat Samman'. They would be chosen by a jury headed by Vice President Bhairon Singh Sekhawat.

Representatives of NRIs and PIOs from 40 countries, including the U S, the U K, Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Africa, the UAE and Uganda have already registered for the conference.

Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen and V S Naipaul would address the inaugural function besides Mauritian Prime Minister Anerood Jagnauth. The invocation will be by Lata Mangeshkar.

Indians abroad who are expected to participate in panel discussions include former Premier of British Columbia Ujjal Dosanjh, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Sam Pitroda, industrialist Bharatkumar J Shah from Dubai, industrialist L N Mittal from the U K. Authors Vikram Seth, Anita Desai and Jhumpa Lahiri along with numerous other businessmen, academicians, scientists and management experts are also expected.

- nriol.com report

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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