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PBD no longer a shining event?
George Iype in Hyderabad | January 07, 2006 18:19 IST
Is the much-publicised annual conclave of overseas Indians -- the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas -- losing its sheen year after year?
Looking at the decreasing number of non resident Indian/persons of Indian origin delegates coming over to attend the event and the confused manner in which the annual jamboree has been organised in Hyderabad gives a feeling that the PBD is no longer a shining event.
"Yes, indeed, this meet is losing its charm. Because we do not know what is happening here, and where to attend the sessions," said an angry Praveen Gupta, a businessman from Australia.
The driver of the car in which Gupta travelled from his hotel in Hyderabad could not locate the convention centre -- the newly-built and inaugurated Hyderabad International Convention Centre -- some 20 km from the city.
When he reached the centre, after a two-hour drive, he was not allowed entry because he did not have an ID card issued by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to enter the sprawling venue.
"I could get the pass only after registering at the venue. But they did not let me get in," he pointed out. Gupta, then, argued with security officials and entered the venue, and found that his name was not there in the list for the pass to be issued.
Krishna Kumar, secretary of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs admitted that there have been major glitches regarding PBD in 2006.
"There have been problems in the registration process. The security process to enter the venue got complicated because of the photo identity cards, which could not be issued to many delegates. We are trying to sort this out," he told reporters.
But it is unlikely that the ministry officials and the official partner of the event -- the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry -- will be able to sort out the teething problems they face in Hyderabad.
First, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Oscar Fernandes agrees that the biggest problem in 2006 was that the organisers got the venue -- the Hyderabad International Convention Centre -- cleared only a day before the event.
The sprawling convention centre at the Hi-Tech City was inaugurated Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and the organisers say they never got an opportunity to do a trial run for the event.
The result: The delegates did not know where to go for lunch, which was organised in an adjacent building; many of them did not get any registration kits; they did not know who the participants and speakers were.
And the huge auditorium that can seat hundreds was not even half full. "There are only around 600 delegates who have come for the meet. We hoped some 1,200 NRIs would come. But we do not know exactly how many have come," said one of the organisers.
Secretary Krishna Kumar said the organisers are yet to count how many people have come for the meet, at the end of the first day of the event.
Is PBD losing its sheen and becoming a lacklustre affair?
Nearly 4,000 overseas Indians attended the first ever PBD in Delhi in 2004. Some 2,000 overseas delegates travelled down to Mumbai for the second PBD in Mumbai in 2005.
In 2006, the number of delegates may not go up more than 600, if the participation on the first day is any indication.
Will the Ministry hold another PBD next year?
"These are some unforeseen temporary problems. Our idea is to showcase each state every year by conducting the PBD in various parts of the country every year," Fernandes told rediff.com.
When asked where will it be held next year, he said, "We are yet to fix the venue for the next year," he added.