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Youth PBD inaugurated as three-day diaspora conclave kicks off

Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat

Gandhinagar, Jan 7 The three-day 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) kicked off here Wednesday with the inauguration of the Youth PBD, being attended by hundreds of diaspora youth from across the world.

The annual event is the world’s largest annual gathering of people of Indian-origin.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is also minister for overseas Indian affairs, attired in a blue silk sari, lighted the ceremonial lamp as part of the inaugural ceremony.

Earlier, the minister inaugurated the Gandhi Gallery at the Mahatma Mandir convention centre, the venue of the three-day diaspora conclave. The Mahatma Mandir is a sprawling complex spread across 60,000 sq mt.

Accompanied by Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Retd.) V.K. Singh, Sushma Swaraj took a walk around the exhibition complex that has photographs, write ups and archival material tracing Mahatma Gandhi’s life and his contribution to India’s independence.

More than 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 the Gujarat capital 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.

Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbananda Sonwal, speaking at the inauguration, urged the diaspora youth to “preserve the values of their forefathers”.

Priti Patel, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury of Britain, addressed the inaugural and said the “UK 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. Guyana President Donald Ramotar will be the chief guest at the 13th PBD.

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 will have two plenary sessions on ‘Bharat ko Jano’ and ‘Bharat ko Mano’ and a talk will be held on ‘Thoughts of Gandhi in the 21st century referring to youths’.

During the ‘Bharat ko Jano’ (Know India) session, the diaspora youth would be told about India’s age old culture, traditions and hospitality, while at the ‘Bharat ko Mano’ session the youth would be told about modern India and its innovations, like Mangalyaan or the Mars mission, about India’s missile technology and expertise in information technology.