Keeping in mind the size and importance of the Indian Diaspora in the UK, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, under the helm of NDA Minister of External affairs Ms. Sushma Swaraj, has zeroed in upon London to hold the 2014 regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas Convention. This mini-PBD event, meant to serve as a bridge between the Diaspora and the Indian Government, is slated to take place between the 16th & 18th of October this year, and the first such to be held in the UK. About 700 participants from all over the UK and neighbouring European countries are expected to participate in the event. NRI Achievers brings you the outlines of what is being planned for the conclave.

Regional PBDs (Pravasi Bharatiya Divas) are Diaspora events organised by the Indian Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in collaboration with the host Government, the Indian Mission there, prominent Overseas Indians, and several Indian community organisations. Earlier Regional PBDs were held in New York, Singapore, The Hague, Durban, Toronto, Mauritius and Sydney. The professed objective of these regional conventions is to reach out to members of the overseas community who have been unable to participate in the annual PBD in India, and to provide them with a platform from which to partake in the Indian Growth Story, and contribute to the relationship between their region and India. The Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) is partnering the Indian Government for the Regional PBD in London, and is also busy at organising a Business Roundtable and B2B meetings in collaboration with the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) as part of the conclave. The event will feature discussions on India-UK collaboration in trade and investment (including in third countries), the role of Diaspora in India-EU trade and their contributions to British/European and Indian societies and economies, the role of NRI/ PIO businesses in European nations, and the role of youth in widening the scope of engagement between India and the Diaspora through cooperation in education, culture and skill development, not to mention taking a serious look at the aspirations and expectations of the Indian Diaspora from the mother country. Speakers at the event are likely to include prominent dignitaries from the UK and India, key members of the Indian community in Britain, Indian and British representatives of large corporations, as well as eminent academicians and media persona. To recap, the programme of the London Regional PBD will broadly be based on the following themes:

In Present and future relationship between India and the Indian diaspora n Aspirations and expectations of the Indian diaspora from India n India-UK collaborations in trade and investment including in third countries; n Role of diaspora in India-EU trade n Role of NRI/PIO businesses in European countries n Contribution of the Indian diaspora to the British/European and Indian societies and economies n Role of youth in widening the scope of engagement between India and the diaspora, including through cooperation in education, culture and skill development. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, or PBD as it is know for short, is celebrated on the 9th of January every year to mark the contribution of the communities of Overseas Indians to the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the date on which to celebrate this occasion, as it was on this very day in 1915 that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, one of the greatest and most wellknown Pravasis, returned to India from South Africa, kickstarted India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever. PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with India’s government of the day, and with the people of the land from which their ancestors and peers have been voyaging the seas in their quests for betterment, for embarking on mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian communities resident in various parts of the world and enable them to fruitfully share their experiences in various fields. During these annual events, individuals of exceptional merit are often honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in and contribution to India’s growth. These Awards are bestowed upon individuals from across the world who the Indian Government feels have brought honour to India through their endeavours and achievements in another country. For instance, in the 2014 PBD, Shailesh Lakhman Vara (born 4th September 1960), a British Conservative Party politician, Justice Minister and Member of Parliament, was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas for 2015, it is now known, will be held in January 2015 at Mahatma Mandir, at Gandhinagar in Gujarat. With 2015 marking one hundred years of the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa, PBD 2015 is expected to be celebrated in a grand way. A big number of participants from the UK are also expected to take part in PBD 2015.

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