Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas: Civil Services Mentor Magazine: February - 2017

Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas

Since time immemorial Indians have gone outside India and have made big names for them across the world. By doing so they have brought name and fame to India. They have also brought different approaches to the country. Indian diaspora is very widely spread right now, from USA to Africa, Indian are making their names everywhere in various diverse fields. Presently, the Indian Diaspora (including the NRIs and PIOs) is estimated to number over twenty million. The Diaspora covers practically every part of the world. The Indian Diaspora numbers more than a million each in eleven countries, while as many as twenty-two countries have concentrations of at least a hundred thousand ethnic Indians.

None of the fields have remain untouched by the achievements of the Indian diaspora. They have excelled in the field of politics, where they are representing citizens of various coutries. Present Prime Minister of Mauritius and Guyana along with other countries also contain Indian descent. Along with politics indian diaspora has excelled in various other fields like the IT, medicine, venture capital, engineering, construction etc. to name a few. The most important thing about the Indians living abroad is that they have retained their emotional, cultural and spiritual links with the country of their origin. This strikes a mutual chord in the hearts of people of India. In this section of famous Indian personalities abroad, we have traced the life, biography and history of some of the prominent Indians abroad.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led Indias freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

Marking the return of Mahatma Gandhi to his home country, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrates for the 14th consecutive year the remarkable contributions of Overseas Indians to the world. The convention is the annual flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Since 2003, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has emerged as the focal platform of engagement between India and its children overseas. The PBD series of conventions reiterates each year the powerful bonds of 'Indian-ness' that continue to link Pravasis with their emotional homeland, while recognizing the myriad ways that Overseas Indians have integrated with and enriched their countries of citizenship or residence.

Presently there are nearly 3.12 crore i.e. about 31.2 million overseas Indians settled globally, of which nearly 1.34 crore i.e. 13.4 million are Persons of Indian Origin and 1.78 crore i.e. 17.8 million are Non Resident Indians. The first PBD was held in January 2003 in New Delhi. So far 13 editions of the PBD Convention have been held, the last in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in January 2015 which coincided with the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's return from South Africa. The PBD is often held in cities outside Delhi in partnership with states which have large diaspora populations outside Delhi.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is the key facilitator and enabler of the bilateral relationship. Arising from the felt need expressed in the first PBD convention in 2003, the Ministry of Non-Resident Indians' Affairs was set up in May 2004 and renamed as Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in September 2004 to meet the expectations of Pravasis. Its mandate gives expression to the diverse nature of Indian communities worldwide. Headed by a Minister of Cabinet rank, MOIA is positioned as a contemporary, lean and efficient ministry to act as 'friend and guide' to the 31.2 million Overseas Indians in all parts of the world.

The Diaspora Services division of the ministry is tasked with all matters pertaining to Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Non-Resident Indians (NRI), including organizing the PBD conventions, mini-PBDs in different parts of the world, and dissemination of information regarding educational institutions. Financial Services division aims to assist Overseas Indian investors and businesses in participating in the India growth story. The Emigration Services division consolidates all matters relating to employment of Indians in other countries, formulating policies to facilitate and empower workers and professionals traveling abroad. Additionally, the Protectorate General of Emigrants administers the Emigration Act 1983 and overseas the eight field offices of the Protectors of Emigrants in various Indian cities.

Through the previous editions of the PBD convention, a multi-modal multi-platform architecture of policies and institutions has been structured to expand the limits of engagement of Pravasis with India. It has been recognized that the Overseas Indian community is in fact not a single entity, but a conglomerate of differentiated identities and experiences, each of which demands different approaches for engagement. Some of the institutional arrangements initiated by the MOIA include the Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians, Overseas Indian Facilitation Center (OIFC), Global Indian Network of Knowledge (Global-INK), India Development Foundation for Overseas Indians, and PIO university.

Initiatives that have given expression to the needs of the Overseas Indian include the seminal Overseas Citizenship of India card that affords a number of privileges to holders on par with facilities available to Indian citizens, barring a few; the Know India Program, a 3 week tour of India for OI students; the Scholarship Program for Diaspora Children, for financial assistance in Indian higher education institutes; Tracing the Roots; and legal and financial assistance to Indian women deserted by the Overseas Indian spouses. A number of initiatives have been taken for Indian workers overseas such as labour agreements with different countries, emigration helplines, community welfare funds, and others.

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