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Home > News > Report

2000 visitors expected at 5th PBD

September 28, 2006 16:45 IST

The government is likely to introduce an amendment to the Representation of People's Act in the next session of Parliament to allow voting rights for Non-Resident Indians, said Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, announcing the 5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on the theme  "Rooting for the Roots  - Meeting India's Social Development Challenges," in New Delhi on Thursday.

"The Parliamentary Standing Committee has submitted its report which says these amendments should be introduced," the minister said, at a press conference. The 5th PBD is being jointly organised by the Ministry, Confederation of Indian Industry and the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in New Delhi from January 7-9. 2007.

The 5th PBD will focus on social sectors, including education, healthcare, women, youth and investment, said Ravi. Another new feature of PBD will be sessions on geographical regions which have large concentrations of overseas Indians.

In addition, the 5th PBD will carry on tradition of having state-specific sessions. The Chief Ministers of the states concerned will lead their state delegations at different meetings. "We have invited the CMs of all the states to the PBD," said the minister.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will feature for the first time a Conference of Parliamentarians of People of Indian Origin, said Ravi. Between 1,500 and 2,000 delegates are expected to attend PBD.

Another major addition to the PBD programme is a daily report-back session to capture the main outcomes and issues raised during the day.

This is in line with PBDs resolving issues relating to overseas Indians. In  2006, the first Overseas Citizenship of India card was issued that allows its holder free access to India and gives him all rights except political privileges. The government has issued 59,600 OCI cards so far.

Other issues raised at previous PBDs have also been addressed, the minister said. These are easier travel to India including special immigration counters, facilitating remittances to India through a single-window system of the UTI Bank and increasing the number and amount of scholarships. "We have also raised the quantum of the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana to Rs 5 lakhs."

This PBD is a high profile event, Ravi said. "It will be addressed by the Prime Minister, President of India and the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance. "

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is the flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, he said. It aims to connect more than 25 million overseas Indians and to bring their expertise and knowledge to India to assist in the country ' s development process, the Minister said.

Chief Mentor, CII, Tarun Das, said CII has a strong international network of partnerships though its bilateral councils. This has helped it to reach out to Indian diaspora and connect it with India on issues of social development -- education, health, water, skill development.

"These are what the 5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will focus on." The PBD should take this agenda forward -- connecting diaspora with India's social development needs.

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