AsiaIndiaPBD2015Southern Asia

India reaches out to diaspora youth as three-day PBD takes off

pbdGandhinagar, Jan 7 India reached out to its global youth with the message of “come, connect, celebrate and contribute” to be part of the “momentous transformation taking place in the country” as the three-day 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the world’s largest annual gathering of people of Indian origin, kicked off here Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is also minister for overseas Indian affairs, inaugurated the Youth PBD, being attended by hundreds of diaspora youth from across the world.

Attired in a blue silk sari, she lighted the ceremonial lamp as part of the inaugural ceremony.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 2015 Youth PBD, Sushma Swaraj urged the diaspora youth to contribute to the country’s development.

“We want you, the Pravasis, to contribute to the development of India. We want you to participate in the vision that Prime Minister Modi has for India’s future,” she said and enumerated the programmes launched by the government, including Make in India, Smart Cities, Swachch Bharat, and Skill India.

She said the government “has been working in mission mode to implement all these programmes. You can contribute to them and become an active partner in these ventures. Our Government is fully committed to good governance, efficiency, accountability, transparency, and speedy decision making”.

The minister, addressing the diaspora youth at the Mahatma Mandir complex, said there are “tremendous opportunities today for you to join us, especially in the fields of manufacturing, infrastructure development, education, health, skills development, science and technology, research and innovation, knowledge economy and youth development as part of our effort to realise India’s full potential”.

She described the diaspora as “the most significant example of India’s soft power”.

She said the diaspora has “retained a bit of India in your hearts” though living thousands of miles away and have “kept the spirit of Bharat alive”.

The minister said the PBD is “an occasion to reflect upon your heritage, and to touch base with a country which will always consider you as one of its own, regardless of the colour of your passport or the land of your citizenship”.

“So global Indians come, connect, celebrate, contribute and become a part of the momentous transformation taking place in the country to build ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’,” said Sushma Swaraj.

She said the PBD is a platform to connect the diaspora with the motherland and promote the concept of a global Indian family.

She also inaugurated the Gandhi Gallery at the Mahatma Mandir convention centre, the venue of the three-day diaspora conclave.

Around 4,000 delegates have arrived for the PBD, an annual gathering of Indian diaspora aimed at enhancing networking and reinforcing commercial linkages.

There are 25 million people of Indian origin residing outside India.

The event is being held in Gandhinagar Jan 7-9 to mark the centenary of the return to the country of India’s “sarva sreshtha pravasi Bharatiya” or foremost Indian diaspora member, Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa.

Priti Patel, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury of Britain, addressed the inaugural and said Britain “is keen to share with India its experiences in fostering government-industry partnership”.

She said that in Britain, 1.5 million Indians are working and contributing to the British economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the official section of the PBD Thursday.

The chief guest of the 13th PBD would be Guyana President Donald Ramotar.

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is also attending the PBD, as part of the commemoratory events to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s return from South Africa a century ago.

The Youth PBD Wednesday had two plenary sessions on ‘Bharat ko Jano’ and ‘Bharat ko Mano’ and a talk on ‘Thoughts of Gandhi in the 21st century referring to youths’.