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5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held in New Delhi
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | September 28, 2006 16:12 IST
"We expect over 1500-2000 delegates from various parts of the world to participate in the 2007 function. We would discuss education, issues related to women's empowerment, healthcare and youth. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh would deliver the opening address and the President of India A P J Abdul Kalam would give away prizes to the NRI's selected by a committee headed by vice president of India Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. United Progressive Alliance chairman Mrs Sonia Gandhi would also address the gathering," he said.
He denied that the PBD was an exercise in futility as the NRI's participating in the functions only want facilities but do not show any interest in investing money in the states to which they belong to. "This is not true. PBD is only an opportunity for interaction with the NRIs and in such a short time you do not expect them to invest money. Chief minister's keep on going abroad and they can utilise those trips for investment from the NRI's. This is only a single window system meant to address the problems of the delegates from various nations and find solutions," he said.
One of the major issues that would dominate the deliberations is compulsory registration of the marriages of the NRIs at the time of the wedding so that the wives have something to prove that they are legally wedded in case they are deserted by their husbands. "We have received a large number of complaints in this regard and we would do something about it," he promised.
He made it clear that NRI's may get voting rights but they would not have the right to contest elections. "Dual citizenship is a misnomer. There are lots of headaches. And hence it was decided that we should have overseas citizens of India, which would be a lifelong card like green card of United States. The owner of the card can come as many times to his country and live as long as he wants to but he would not be able to exercise political rights. He/she can opt for voting rights if he chooses to do so," the minister said. So far over 59,000 cards have been distributed.
Asked why the PBD should not be held in Kerala, the minister smiled. "Kerala could also be the host may in 2008," he said. The government would spend Rs 9 crore out of which 6 crore would be reimbursed by the Confederation of Indian Industries and the government of National Capital of Delhi.