Overseas Indians from across the world travelled to India this January, to attend the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual gathering of the Indian Diaspora hosted by the Indian Government. Seen in retrospect, the event, which concluded on the 9th of January may rightfully be said to have gained some steam compared to past years, but a lack of communication among participants still exists. A number of people from various parts of the world still feel that the purpose of their visit has not really been fulfilled. However, according to those who have also participated in past years, the footfall is increasing, though albeit not on the desired scale given the sheer size of the Indian Diaspora.
Kushagra Bhatnagar, an Australia-based financial analyst and an active member of the Overseas Friends of BJP, who had come to Delhi to attend the PBD, said that he did not find anything overly interesting, and so was returning home without attending the third day’s programme. Ravinder Singh from Canada, Chairman of the Indo Commonwealth Ex-Army Heritage, found a sad lack of communication in the event. “People of Indian origin from across the world are finding it difficult to interact with each other, which is the main purpose of this event,” he told the media.
Ravinder, who has come for every PBD since its inception in 2003, feels however that the programme is on the way to getting more participative each year, and the number of participants is growing. Another regular at every PBD since 2003 is Shihab Kottukad, a consultant to the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) department of the Kerala Government and a volunteer at the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia. His take was that he finds PBD very interesting and it does give him an opportunity to meet a lot of Diaspora from different corners of the world here.
Vinod Daniel, Chairman of AusHeritage, was a first time PBD attendee. He finds it very impressive and useful. “Really appreciated hearing first hand from senior ministers and bureaucrats on where they see India going. I personally am very positive about India and this congress has made me more excited about India’s future,” he said. Subramaniam Kandsamy, delegate from Malaysia, said the event was yet to gain the full attention of Indians elsewhere. “Diaspora meets are a good move. Glad this has been taken up by the GOI, I really appreciate it,” he said. “Still, the event has not yet gained the full attention of non-resident Indians, but with time I guess it will became a good platform for Indians living outside India,” he added.
According to official sources, around 900 delegates from 60 countries had registered for the PBD this year, with the single largest contingent of around 200 coming from Malaysia. Actual participation, however, seem to be lesser, but no figures are available yet.