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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Government looks to woo NRIs with Pravasi Bharatiya event

Besides the setting up of a tent city to accommodate delegates, a special part of the PBD will be “Kashi ka Aathithya”, whereby arrangements will be made for overseas Indians to stay free of charge in the homes of residents of Varanasi.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2019 14:56 IST

Hindiustan Times, New Delhi/Lucknow
Lucknow: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath address a joint press conference on Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, in Lucknow, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.
Lucknow: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath address a joint press conference on Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, in Lucknow, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (PTI Photo)
         

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held in Varanasi between January 21 and 23 will cap the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s outreach to the overseas Indian community and be the last major diplomatic exercise before the next general election.

At least 7,000 people have registered for the event . The chief guest is Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius – the first person to be accorded this honour who has his roots in the Indian state in which the PBD is being organised.

Jugnauth’s ancestors belonged to Rasra village in Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, and he will travel to his ancestral village during his stay in India, people familiar with developments said.

Though PBD, a biennial event since 2015, is held on or around January 9, the date for this year’s gathering was changed so that participants can also experience the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj and the Republic Day parade in Delhi on January 26.

“We shifted the date of the event…on the demands of the NRIs as they wanted to attend the Kumbh and Republic Day parade,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters in Lucknow on Wednesday.

“The three-day event will kick off with a special day-long programme on January 21 in Varanasi to give a glimpse of our rich heritage to the younger generation settled abroad,” she added. The PBD will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 22 and President Ram Nath Kovind will chair the closing ceremony the next day.

“This is the third PBD organised during the tenure of this government and it will mark the culmination of the prime minister and external affairs minister’s engagement with overseas Indians,” a person familiar with planning for the event said.

The people cited above said the participating overseas Indians will be engaged to invest in specific projects. The Ganges river will be given a prominent status during the PBD, with “Ganga Avtaran” —the mythical story of how the river descended to earth — being the theme for a cultural programme on January 22.

Besides the setting up of a tent city to accommodate delegates, a special part of the PBD will be “Kashi ka Aathithya”, whereby arrangements will be made for overseas Indians to stay free of charge in the homes of residents of Varanasi.

“Prime Minister Modi was very keen on this Kashi ka Aathithya idea,” said Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, adding that around 1,000 NRIs with roots in the state will join the event.

The Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on January 21 will be addressed by Swaraj, Norwegian MP Himanshu Gulati and New Zealand MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi. The inaugural session of the PBD will be addressed by Jugnauth, Swaraj and Modi.

There will be several sessions devoted to topics such as developing India’s cyber capacity, the diaspora’s role in capacity building for artificial intelligence, affordable solar power and waste management and Indian community groups working for Indian nationals in distress.

First Published: Jan 17, 2019 07:16 IST

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