Global Indian family to reunite for second get-together
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Global Indian family to reunite for second get-together

After a bitter-sweet first reunion, the global Indian family gets together again for the second Indian diaspora meet to be opened by the PM on January 9.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 15:19 IST

After a bitter-sweet first reunion, the global Indian family gets together again for the second Indian diaspora meet to be opened by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee here Friday.

Armed with dual citizenship legislation that is about to become a law, the second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Indian Diaspora Day) to be held from January 9 to 11 seeks to take the Indian bonhomie further for mutual economic, social and cultural benefits.

Vajpayee, who had set the ball rolling last year by announcing dual citizenship for people of Indian origin (PIOs) in select countries, is likely to announce more sops to reach out to the 22 million-strong diaspora spread across the world.

At least 1,000 delegates from 57 countries are participating in the meet organised at the sprawling Indira Gandhi International Stadium near one of the busiest parts of the capital.

"The fervour and passion elicited at the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was very heart-warming and marked the beginning of a new chapter," said former diplomat L.M. Singhvi, who heads the organising committee.

"Now we want to build more bridges, reach out to more people and put to true utility the enormous potential of the global Indian family."

The three-day event is a joint effort of the ministry of external affairs, the Indian government and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

The organisers say the special focus this year is on the younger generation. Interns from various countries have already begun a three-week internship and will participate in organising the event.

Another key agenda will be to address the concerns and aspirations of non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the Gulf, who had complained of being sidelined in the last event.

More than three million Indians, mostly blue-collar workers are based in the Gulf. A majority of them work as contract employees sans any job security, are poor and lack any savings or options in India.

The second meet seeks to pay more attention to the distress of Gulf-based Indians and redress their grievances through measures such as an insurance scheme and a welfare fund.

The three senior-most ministers in Vajpayee's cabinet have been roped in to make the interactions between the government and the diaspora more meaningful.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani will address a session on "India and the Diaspora - Vision for 2020".

Finance Minister Jaswant Singh will speak on "Globalisation, Indian Economy and the Diaspora" and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha will address a session on "Policies for Productive Engagement".

Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, economist Lord Meghnad Desai, Malaysian minister Dato Seri Sami Vellu, Lord Navnit Dholakia of the British House of Lords and composer Zubin Mehta are among the eminent faces expected at the event.

Taking time off from business and diplomacy, the delegates can unwind during evenings of cultural entertainment.

A special theme night, "Shringar", by filmmaker Muzaffar Ali will take viewers through a complete extravaganza with a multimedia dance drama, poetry and fashion show that chart a 2,500-year journey through time.

The guests will be treated to musical performances by diaspora artistes such as Ricky Jay of Trinidad and Tobago - who sings Chutney socca, a blend of Indian beats and Calypso - and a Mauritian cultural troupe.

The Indian government anointed January 9 as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to mark the day in 1915 when Mahatma Gandhi returned to India after almost two decades in South Africa, where he fought against racism.

After Vajpayee's announcement in the last meet, the government set in motion legislation to grant dual citizenship to PIOs in 16 countries -the US, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, France, Sweden and Finland.

First Published: Jan 07, 2004 15:19 IST