S Krishna Kumar
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S Krishna Kumar

The secretary of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs talks to Vibhuti Agarwal of HindustanTimes.com about this year's Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and says he hopes to make the event a big success.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 19:27 IST

'Do not forget the brethren back home'.

This is the message the Government of India wants to convey to all Indians across the globe.

The Ministry of Overseas Indians Affairs hopes to make the fourth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2006—India's annual conclave to connect with its vast Diaspora in Hyderabad—a great success.

Engaged with preparations for the three-day event, S Krishna Kumar, Secretary MOIA, throws light on how this year's PBD will be different from the previous ones.

Q: What is the objective behind choosing Hyderabad as the venue?

There were a couple of reasons behind this decision. Mumbai, being a commercial region, we diverted our attention towards the South. The other preferred options were Kochi, Bangalore and Chennai. Since there was a clash of events at these places, we zeroed in on Hyderabad. Since the thrust is on business, infrastructural connectivity and availability of conference menu in the city were well in order.

Q: What are the main areas of focus where you think there could be an exchange of ideas?

A: Across the board, we would be concentrating on three to four primary areas to facilitate exchange of ideas overseas.

Primarily, we hope to establish a knowledge network between Indians and the Diaspora. The Govt is looking forward to striking a partnership with the American Association of People of Indian Origin by signing an MoU with them, through which the association would get involved with countries like Guyana, Fiji and Mauritius. At the same time, the Govt also plans to strike a balance with ICCR for greater dissemination of Indian culture, music and dance.

Another important event would be unveiling the skills of Overseas Indian workers like blue-collar workers in the Gulf. The main focus would be to turn India into a country of skilled manpower. There would be separate sessions on employment, information technology and infrastructure.

Besides, the MOIA has requested the Finance Ministry to establish a remittance portal proposed by UTI for faster money and other business transactions. The gateway would be one of the main highlights of the event.

Q: How do you expect to involve different state governments in an event like this?

A: The different states in India are like knowledge partners, which help in bringing domain knowledge to the forefront. In a federal country like ours, when these things get translated into action, the different state governments are defined as stakeholders.

Apart from this, the PBD 2006 would offer a common platform to the different states to discuss issues related to education, investment in soft sectors and generating ideas in getting things done. There would be separate presentations on the structural weaknesses at state-level labour reforms and infrastructure-related problems.

Q: People have a general notion that PBD is a waste of money. There is nostalgia... people come, enjoy it as a holiday and go back. How far is this true and what have the last three PBDs achieved?

A: To some extent the true format of the event is a get-together. People come, interact, and revive memories. There has been a paradigm shift in the earlier mindset. But the present Govt means serious business. With this view in mind, the separate ministry (MOIA) has been constituted, which focuses on outcome-oriented content. For instance, this year, a US delegation comprising 60 doctors would be visiting India. We hope to make PBD a platform where everything from philanthropy to culture is discussed. By 2008, we aim to rebrand it from a purely business conference to a business-oriented conference.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 19:27 IST