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COVER STORY:
India Honors Diaspora: Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Siliconeer president Ashok K. Gupta has just returned from New Delhi, where he joined 2,000 expatriate Indians to celebrate the 2011 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, and filed this report.


Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): Seen here at the inaugural session of the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2011 at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, Jan. 8 are (l-r) Minister for Development of North East Region Bijoy Krishna Handique; New Zealand Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand; Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh; Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi; and Overseas Indian Affairs Secretary A. Didar Singh. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]
(Cover photo, right): A group of dancers performing Indian classical dances during a cultural show organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Development of North East Region (DoNER) for the NRIs attending the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2011. The event was held at Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, Jan. 8. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

It does not matter what our immigration status is, as the Ramayana says, Janani janmabhumischa swargadapi gariyasi — in Sanskrit — loosely translated into English, means “Mother and birthplace is more than heaven.” Non-Resident Indians were treated as celebrities during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2011 celebrations in Delhi held in the first week of January. Siliconeer was present to witness the 2,000 strong members of the Indian diaspora who took part in this year’s convention organized by India’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region along with eight North-eastern states in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Many of us may not know that 95 years ago, as India was struggling to develop its own identity, a small unassuming man disembarked from a ship sailing from South Africa. His success was not unknown, and there were many at hand to welcome him home. But none could have foreseen that fortunes of India would depend on this person, Mahatma Gandhi, the NRI returning home.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards recipients seen with the President of India Pratibha Devisingh Patil (8th from l) and Minster of Overseas Indians Affairs Vayalar Ravi (c) at the Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, Jan. 9. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

Fun Quotes and Facts

65 percent of population in India is less than 35 years of age.

Do you know there are 10 MPs in Canada who are of Indian origin?

“Indian Diaspora is 25 million strong and earning 26 percent of the country’s GDP.” – Sam Pitroda

Punjabi is the 4th most spoken language in Canada.

“It does not require talent to identify problems in India.” – Sam Pitroda

Politics = POLY (many) TICKS (blood sucking insects) – Jay Panda

“Nation is not based on profit and loss.” – Sam Pitroda

“Broadband connectivity shall be available in villages in 20 months and in 18 months on district level.” – Sam Pitroda

Satish Jha, president of OLPC India Foundation (One Laptop Per Child) was very enthusiastic about this project where the Times Foundation has guaranteed to give away and maintain 250,000 laptops for children.

“PBD is no more an event, it is a movement.” – A. Didar Singh
PBD is the day when India issues a call to NRIs to celebrate the contributions of overseas Indians as well as to reaffirm their commitment and bring together their synergies for the betterment of the land of their ancestry. The Indian economy has grown beyond measure and the infrastructure development is in full swing. India is all set for “Engaging the Global Indian” to be a part in turning the country into a powerhouse for the global economy. This is the time for the global Indian to re-connect with India, this is the time to partner in India’s development saga, and this is the time to be part of an exciting new era.

As India’s Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Jitin Prasada said, “Every Pravasi Bharatiya is an Indian ambassador of goodwill in whichever country he is.”

In his inaugural address, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh welcomed the NRIs and said, “I am very happy to join you once again in this wonderful annual homecoming of Pravasi Bharatiyas.”

New Zealand Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand was chief guest this year. Professor C.K. Prahalad, one of the foremost management gurus of our time was remembered and the prime minister said, “We will solely miss his vast knowledge and experience in the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians.”

The emerging India is now a distinguished non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The Overseas Citizen of India card and the People of Indian Origin card, to facilitate visa-free travel to India as well as to provide the rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in India, has been merged into a single facility.

As an incentive to NRI investment, the government is framing appropriate procedures to provide voting rights for the NRIs. Despite the uncertain global economic scenario, in the last two quarters the growth rate of Indian economy has been 8.9 percent and it is expected that it will be around 8.5 percent for the year, and 9 to 10 percent for the next year. This growth is vital to fund our ambitious social development programs and create employment opportunities for our young population.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia (l), Minster of Overseas Indians Affairs Vayalar Ravi (c), Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in a deep strategic discussion at “Interaction with Chief Ministers on Inclusive Growth” session at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, Jan. 9. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

Manmohan Singh also said that the government has signed social security agreements with twelve countries and has finalized labor mobility partnerships with two others to improve the conditions of overseas Indian workers. He said that a similar generic arrangement is also being negotiated with the European Union. He added that the facility of the Indian Community Welfare Fund has now been extended to all the Indian missions. The fund provides on-site assistance to Indian citizens in distress.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that cataract surgery and dental treatment provided to cattle is unique to Gujarat in the whole world. You cannot think of a better life for human beings in any other state than Gujarat.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): NRIs at the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2011 witnessing the elaborate exhibits that showcased culture, tourism, business and more at the exhibition hall in the Vigyan Bhawan Annexe where over 160 exhibitors provided information on their services. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

Addressing the convention, Minister of Development of North Eastern Region and Mines B.K. Handique hoped that the convention would provide a great opportunity to the eight North Eastern States to engage with the influential diaspora.

Highlights of the second day’s events include the Release of Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre’s investment handbook and unveiling the plaque for the foundation stone of the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): At the Plenary Session on Engaging Young Overseas Indians, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, Jan. 8, are (l-r): Anirudh Suri, President GYIPS; Jitin Prasada, State Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas; Sam Pitroda, Advisor to PM of India; and Ruby Dhalla, MP from Canada. They were honored with shawls alongwith Members of Parliament Jay Panda and Kanimojhi. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

The substantial partnership with the Indian diaspora is a result of the large, diverse, talented and spirited community of overseas Indians estimated around 27 million in over 150 Countries across the globe that represent over 25 percent of the GDP of India.

In the valedictory address, Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil called upon the Indian diaspora to participate in building a better future of India for the disadvantaged sections of society.

Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said that the ninth PBD this year focused on engaging with the young overseas Indian. The young overseas Indian is in a way the driver of India’s image abroad as a young, vibrant and high performing destination. He announced that a memorial plaque at Kolkata Port on Jan. 11 will be unveiled to honor and remember all the Indian indentured workers who had emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He said that the next PBD will be held at Jaipur, Rajasthan Jan. 7-9, 2012.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): A group of young Indians at the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet – 65% population in India is less than 35 years of age. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

President Patil gave away Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards to the eminent overseas Indians which included Sir Anand Satyanand from New Zealand, Prof. Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla from Australia, Lata Pada from Canada, Harindrapal Singh Banga from Hong Kong, Mohammad Munir Nazir Hassan Ansari from Israel, Upjit Singh Sachdeva from Liberia, Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh from Malaysia, Saleh Wahid from Netherlands, Indian Community Benevolent Forum of Qatar, Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin from Saudi Arabia, Mano Selvanathan of Sri Lanka, Mohan Jashanmal from UAE, Baroness (Dr.) Sandip Verma from U.K., Ashook Kumar Ramsaran from U.S. and Dr. Rajiv Shah from U.S.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): NRIs from all over the world attending the President’s Valedictory Address at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, Jan. 9. Siliconeer publisher Sudha Rani (2nd. from l) also attend the event. [Photo: ASHOK K. GUPTA | SILICONEER]

Beyond the seminars, discussion groups, questions and answers, and long speeches, there was another side of the celebrations. Overseas Indians frequently met with other NRIs and made friends with local Indians. The time between two sessions and the lunch and tea breaks were utilized for networking, business, political or otherwise. There was a significant presence of Indian officials and representatives, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, erstwhile Minister of Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath, Overseas Indian Affairs secretary A. Didar Singh, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Deputy Bihar Chief Minister Sushil Modi, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Advisor to the Prime Minister Sam Pitroda, besides a battery of state political representatives.

The notion that the Indian government is after our (NRI) money – is a great myth. Remittances were poor at Rs. 12.5 billion, a little over 1 percent of the total foreign direct investment worth Rs. 1,233.77 billion is already placed in the Indian coffers. The fact that hat the maximum share of remittances originate in Middle East was a point to note.

Congress Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi
(Above): Siliconeer president Ashok Gupta (l) talks to Singapore Parliament Deputy Speaker Indranee Rajah (r) at the Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. [Photo: SILICONEER]

Vigyan Bhawan Annexe was the venue for 160 exhibitors including but not limited to banks, state government and tourism developments, IT developers, holidays and resorts groups, CII, real estate developers, handicrafts emporiums, etc.

Cultural programs organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations was the highlight for the evening on the first day of the event. Next day, the Department of North East Region presented folk musical dance-drama from different states in North East Region. The final day had a musical extravaganza organized by the MOIA.

This year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was well hosted and witnessed by over 2,000 attendees from around the globe.


Ashok K. Gupta is president of Siliconeer magazine. He can be reached by email at ashok@siliconeer.com.



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COVER STORY
India Honors Diaspora: Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Siliconeer
president Ashok Gupta joined 2,000 expatriate Indians to celebrate the 2011 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi.


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Unity Jam 2011
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OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Pravasi Divas
NEWS DIARY: January
SUBCONTINENT: India's Indigenous Fighter Jet
PHOTO ESSAY: India's Republic Day Celebrations: Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA
PHOTO ESSAY: Glimpes of India's 62nd Republic Day Parade in New Delhi
SURVEY: BBC Global Poll: India Pakistan Issues
SUBCONTINENT: Scrapping Big Bills
AUTO REVIEW: 2011 Acura MDX
RECIPE: Veggie Thai Crunch Salad
BOLLYWOOD Film Review: Dhobi Ghat
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
TAMIL CINEMA: Review: Kavalan
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
INFOTECH INDIA: Tech Briefs
BUSINESS: News Briefs
HOROSCOPE: February

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