As part of the activities lined up for the forthcoming Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD), a government-sponsored conclave for the Indian Diaspora also known as the Non-Resident Indian Day, in Bengaluru, Karnataka the Ministry of External Affairs (EMS) is organizing a national contest to identify the country’s top 25 social innovations. The Ministry will be conducting this nation-wide search with the support of Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog.

According to the MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, the objective of the contest is to identify a pool of social impact innovators that have developed or are developing commercially feasible solutions to the socio-economic problems of the country.  The key focus sectors for the contest include areas such as the clean technology, education, health, housing, public transport, skill development and livelihood, waste management, water and sanitation and women empowerment. The 25 finest innovative start-ups with a social impact will be showcased to NRIs participating in the event through an exhibition. “The exhibition will offer an excellent opportunity for the Indian Diaspora (those who represent angel investors and private equity interests) to connect and interact with these social innovators and associate themselves with the social entrepreneurship movement in the country,” the MEA spokesperson said.

Importantly, the format of the PBD was also recently been announced to be significantly changed. It was decided that PBD to be moved outside Delhi to different states every two years; and a smaller event will be held in Delhi every alternate year. This was earlier announced Indian Foreign and External Affairs Minister of India, Mrs Sushma Swaraj. The EMA had stated the fair or ‘MELA’ would also be held every alternate year in different states. This would be a joint collaboration of central and state government. Indian states such as Karnataka, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have shown interest in hosting the event. These events will be held in the new venues or PBD Kendras.

Started in 2003, every year PBD is celebrated to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival in Bombay from South Africa.  A term ‘Global Indian Family’ was devised by the Indian government in the first PBD, held in 2002. This year, the Portugal Indian-origin Prime Minister Antonio Costa will be the Chief Guest at the convention. He will participate in the inaugural session of the convention on January 8 and is set to address the delegates. Another Indian-origin leader, Michael Ashwin Satyandre Adhin, the Vice President of the Republic of Suriname, will be the special guest at the Youth PBD convection on January 7.

by Ashwani Srivastava

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