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Home > News > Report

Bigwigs stay away from Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | January 10, 2004 17:33 IST

The second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is increasingly proving to be a disappointing fare, turning out to be a pale shadow of the first one last year.

The intellectual engagements, the giants of Indian Diaspora who stirred up debates and dissent last year are all missing. There are very few individuals who are able to attract the crowds back to the halls this year.

It was most stark on Friday when some of the most famous members of Diaspora were missing from the festival, though they were present in India.

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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2004

Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, who last year delivered stimulating speech about India being a very open culture, gave the festival a miss. Hardly a few minutes drive away from Vigyan Bhawan, where the PBD is being held, Sen addressed a smaller gathering.

And he also gave an interview to a foreign channel wherein he criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for its anti-Indianness and its attempt to suppress dissent in an autocratic manner.

United Nations under secretary general Shashi Tharoor, who was one of the 12 members of the Diaspora selected for this year's Pravasi Samman, was in India but skipped the meet. He was in Mumbai releasing his book on Nehru, in the company of men like Rashid Zakaria.

With several others like V S Naipaul also missing, Diaspora meetings, which last year were good quality debating forums, are now fast turning out to be uninteresting and dull.

But the central government is finding more support for its utterances, and open dissent like what was seen last year are missing.

In the meeting halls, the NDA ministers are not missing any opportunity to appeal for votes and to project India's 'feel good factor'.

Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani who spoke on Saturday morning even appealed to the audience to vote for the National Democratic Alliance in the coming elections.

Impatient with cynics within the country, Advani told the NRI crowd that sometimes he felt that they understand India's achievements better than the cynics.

The increasing influence of the government, and right wing organisations, is also visible on the festival.

During the session on Diaspora youth, editor of RSS mouthpiece Panchajanya Tarun Vijay was so excited that he felt 'Indianness' more among the Diaspora youth outside India than in the youngsters around him in India.

Vijay said he was very happy that there are 20 million (that is the Diaspora strength) modern-day Swami Vivekananda's around the world.

Vijay had some concrete suggestions for improving the interactions between the Diaspora and India. One among them was to take a team of Diaspora youth every year to the Kailash Mansarovar in China.

In between the meetings the crowd was also getting down to business. A team of delegates from the Malaysian Indian Congress found time to tie up with the youth wing of the BJP for better exchanges.

What is adding to the disappointment is the failure of organisers on some fronts, especially in their dealings with the media. Last night they did not invite most of the media groups to the entertainment night saying the invitation was only for a select group.

Funnily enough the venue was half-empty during the programme and this morning there was hardly any mention of the night's programme in most of the media.

More reports from Delhi
Read about: Assembly Election 2003 | Attack on Parliament

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Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: What is ''Pravasi'', ''Divas''

What is "Pravasi"? What does it mean? Is it a corruption of intended _paravasi_? "Bharatiya" is easy enough to understand. "Divas" is not the plural ...

Posted by T S Raman, Ph.D

Sub: Amartya Sen is a Marxist

There is a problem where so called Indian 'intellectuals' go around giving interviews to the foreign media criticising India. In USA or any other civilizsed ...

Posted by abcd1234

Sub: Josy

Dear Josey, oops...your anti BJP bias is showing.Just because Amartya Sen a known leftist was absent does not mean all the bigwigs were not there ...

Posted by Vaibhav



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