In less than three weeks, Indians from around the globe will get together in the national capital for the sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual conclave of the diaspora.
The conclave will start on January 8, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivering the inaugural address at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. The chief guest will be Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
Unlike previously, the sixth PBD will be only a two-day event. There will be a welcome reception for the participants on on January 7 evening. Earlier, PBDs used to be held for three days.
The tone of the conference is expected to be substantially different, with the emphasis being more on social and development issues, rather than the hard-core courting of NRI capital.
The emphasis on social issues will be apparent from the first session, which will discuss how to ramp up engagement with the diaspora in health and education sectors. There are already some examples in this field - Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (Gopio) has adopted 50 villages, while the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (Aapi) has plans for linkages with rural health centres in south India.
Another session will look at novel ways to strengthen cultural ties between India and second or later generation of the diaspora, who may not have strong emotional underpinnings in their relations to the motherland.
"The investment or money has not been forthcoming. Therefore, we decided that we will not ask for any investment this year but seek partnership from NRIs for philanthropic projects," Vayalar Ravi, minister for overseas Indian affairs, had said in November.
The announcement of an "India Development Fund" is likely to be one of the highlights of the conference, which will be like one-window distribution centre for philanthropic donations.
To be based on the lines of the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, the fund will administer the money to certain selected development areas, like health and education, or certain rural projects.
Though economic issues may take a backstage this time, there will still be enough chances for participants scouting for business opportunities at the "marketplace" to sniff out the best investment areas, through business-to-business talks.
President Pratibha Patil will attend the valedictory session and will give away the Pravasi Bharatiya samman awards.