Aiming to link the vast Indian diaspora and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region with India, the Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was officially launched today in Sydney by New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.
Welcoming Ravi, leaders and high officials to the Australian city, the New South Wales Premier said, "It is a great honour for NSW to host this conference, which is expected to generate millions for the state economy." The 2013 convention is the first to be held in Australia.
O'Farrell lit a ceremonial lamp with Ravi to inaugurate the conference at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour.
"The decision to choose Sydney to host this gathering is an indication of the strong and long-standing friendship that India and Australia are fortunate to enjoy," he said.
"The NSW government's new international engagement strategy was launched in April of this year, confirming India as a priority, and our commitment to pursuing business with India," he added.
"The Multicultural Business Advisory Panel, chaired by Nihal Gupta, compliments the strategy by working with the Indian community, among others, to identify ways to strengthen trade and investment between NSW and India. I am looking forward to leading my third delegation to India next month, to build on existing business relationships while exploring new opportunities," he said.
"There are around 95,000 people of Indian heritage who live in NSW, placing us in a fortunate position to develop not only business, but cultural ties too. The economic relationship and friendship between NSW and India has grown steadily in recent years and I look forward to seeing further co-operation in the future," O'Farrell said.
The Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is organised by the High Commission of India and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
Participation in the convention is expected from all states and territories of Australia and from neighbouring countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, New Guinea, New Zealand, Fiji and the Pacific Islands.
Speakers at the event will include ministers and prominent dignitaries from Australia and India, prominent members of the Indian community, Australian and Indian business representatives and academicians.