NEW DELHI: In a major departure from the past, the government on Tuesday announced a “paradigm shift” in the format of the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), its engagement with the diaspora, with the mega jamboree to be held every alternate year and an event “focused on outcomes” to be held every other year.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is also minister of overseas Indian affairs, announced the changed format of India’s engagement with its diaspora at a press conference here.
Sushma Swaraj said that in January 2016, a much scaled-down event will be held with the participation of just 150 specially invited foreign delegates.
The invited diaspora guests will be experts who would attend various sessions to brainstorm on issues, including the problem of the Indian diaspora in the Gulf, on the government’s flagship programmes like Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, and problems that Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) face, she said.
The January event will be held in the newly constructed PBD Kendra, which is ready.
Sushma Swaraj announced that the “smaller events” of the PBD would be held in the Delhi office every alternate year, while the major “mela” would be held every two years in a different state in partnership with that state government.
She said Karnataka, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have evinced interest in hosting the diaspora event.
Besides, she announced that the Regional PBD, which is held abroad, will be held this year in Los Angeles, US, on November 14-15.
She said US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he would attend.
In addition, “mini regional PBDs” would be held in two places where the Indian origin populace is less concentrated in order to increase their sense of involvement with their country of origin.
Sushma Swaraj said the forthcoming PBD in Delhi would be more “academic”.
She also announced a quiz competition “Bharat ko Janiye” in order to involve the diaspora youth in learning about India.
The 20 winners — 10 from PIO countries and 10 from countries with NRIs — would be awarded at the PBD.
Announcing the competition, Sushma Swaraj said diaspora Indians between the ages 18-35 could apply to join the quiz, in which there would be two rounds.
After the second round, 10 successful candidates each from the PIO nations and with NRI population would be selected.
They would be invited to the summit where they would have to participate in the third round.
The first three winners would be awarded at the plenary of the PBD.
The 20 youth would be taken on a “Bharat Darshan”, she announced, with the aim to acquaint them about Indian art, culture, heritage and also modern India.
She also announced that instead of honouring 15 diaspora achievers Aat the Delhi PBD, the government would honour an additional 15 diaspora at the mega PBD to be held every two years.
The Indian missions would suggest the names of the Indian delegates to attend the PBD.