Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) celebrations in Sydney


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By Vish Viswanathan

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January each year to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay on 9 January 1915. Since 2003, Government of India organizes PBD celebrations in various cities in India and is typically attended by 1,500 delegates from over 50 countries. Since 2013 the Regional PBDs have been organized such as one organized in Sydney. However effective from January 2016, a new format for PBDs was announced by Hon. Sushma Swaraj Minister of External affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs. According to the announcement, the event was being moved to different states every two years; a smaller event would be held in Delhi every alternate year. “Starting 2016, we will have a scaled-down event in Delhi every alternate year. For this, we will invite 150 experts to have outcome-focussed discussions and events,” the Minister had said.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2016 ‬ was held at the Consulate General of India, Sydney on January 09, 2016. The aim of the event was to bring together the Indian community members, brief them on various and discuss about how Indian Diaspora could contribute in India’s social and economic development.
The event was well attended with over 50 eminent members from Indian community from wide cross-section of society and different fields including local government, business, academia, media and community associations, participating in the event.
Mr. Arindham Banerjee, Vice Consul welcomed the members of the community and invited guests. In his opening remark, Acting Consul General Dr Vinod Bahade highlighted the contribution of the growing Indian community in Australia which was not only recognized and respected but also considered to be a partner in building a multicultural Australia. Indian diaspora is well respected globally as they bring values to wherever they live which results in strength and pride. He made a presentation on various programs including Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities Mission, National Mission for Clean Ganga and Swachh Bharat Mission. Dr. Bahade said that these initiatives provided a unique opportunity to the members of Indian diaspora to contribute in different capacities in the social and economic development of India.
Mr Neville Roach AO, the first Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardee from Australia also spoke on the occasion and encouraged the members to attend PBD in India. He shared his thoughts on various avenues available for contribution by Indian diaspora including India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI). Mr. Neville Roach suggested that AIR-INDIA and INDIA Tourism can consider special PBD oriented travel/accommodation packages from Australia to India to facilitate community members interested in attending the PBD in 2017.
This was followed by an active participatory interaction among the attendees presenting what they could offer by way of expertise and other suggestions.
The event concluded with the screening of a video of ‘India Connect’ Initiatives of OIFC – a platform for economic and knowledge engagement of Indian diaspora with India.
Moving forward and to encourage effective and meaningful participation from Australia to Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas events in India such as the one in 2017, The INDIAN TELEGRAPH suggests the following for the consideration by Government of India and the Indian community members interested in participating in the PBD.

1. Community consultation - (what are the ways the community can participate apart from Business sessions) and Expression of Interest in participating in various PBD activities representing Australian Indian community right from planning stage. Identifying the specific Australian Indian needs, expectation and PBD segments of Australian Indian involvement to MAKE IN INDIA, SKILL INDIA etc.

2. Media campaign in Australia – may be the right time to start now considering the festival season, encourage group bookings, planning travel and accommodation.

3. The PBD organizing committee in India can also consider special segment for Australia covering business, culture, education, social welfare, youth, interactive session as to how Australian Indians can contribute to Indian economy and social fabric, identify specific projects.

4. AIR INDIA & India Tourism may also be requested to consider special travel packages (PBD special) as suggested by Mr. Neville Roach.

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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