You are here: Rediff Home » India » News » Interview » Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

'What a resurgent India has to offer'

Get news updates:What's this?
January 06, 2007
As New Delhi gears up to host the fifth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from January 7 to 9, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi explains how the event has evolved over the years. In an e-mail interview with Deputy Managing Editor Ramananda Sengupta, the minister also elaborates on what the government hopes to achieve through the event.

How will this PBD be different from the earlier ones?

PBD 2007 will focus on engaging the overseas Indians in India's socio-economic development. The focus areas will be education, healthcare, youth, education, technology, gender issues and investments. We are also having special sessions on overseas Indians in different regions of the world to evolve area specific agenda for the ministry.

Who will receive the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award this year and why?

Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are given to overseas Indians and overseas Indian organisations who besides achieving great eminence in his/her own field, has made outstanding contributions towards fostering better understanding abroad of India and its civilization, has extended support to India's causes and concerns and has advanced her interests internationally and has made significant contribution or service to the Indian diaspora. Based on this criteria we will choose 15 awardees from different fields like public affairs, community service and other professions etc.

What kind of turnout do you expect this year?

We expect a huge turnout this year from across the globe including the US, Canada, Europe, Gulf, Indian Ocean region including Mauritius and South Africa, the Caribbean region and South East Asia including Malaysia and Singapore. More than 1,000 overseas delegates are expected including several high level dignitaries including overseas Indians who are ministers in their governments. Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Mr S Jayakumar will be the chief guest for the function.

What kind of feedback have your received from previous PBDs. In terms of content and general usefulness as a networking agent?

Very positive feedback has been received from previous events. The event has given the overseas Indians a feelings of Indianness, huge networking opportunity and also to voice their concerns and aspirations to the government.

Other than providing an annual platform for the Diaspora to interact, and to extol the virtues of India as an investment destination, is there any other purpose/objective behind this event?

The inputs received in the event will be used to formulate the Government's agenda for the Diaspora. This will not just be investments but involvement of overseas Indians in other areas like healthcare, education, technology and philanthropy etc.

What are the initiatives taken by your ministry to build up on the experience of the earlier Divas? Are there any specific programmes that have been taken up as a follow up to the earlier events?

Several initiatives have been taken as a result of deliberations during the previous events. These include the launching of the Overseas Citizenship of India scheme, Know India Programme for Diaspora Youth, Scholarship Scheme for Diaspora Children, E Remittance gateway and Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana. Several initiatives discussed are in various stages of implementation including overseas Indian centres, setting up of a Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, changes in the Emigration Act, skill upgradation of workers, computerisation of offices of Protector General of Emigrants, labour agreements with Gulf countries (already signed with UAE) and social security agreements with some countries (already signed with Belgium.)

The idea of making individual states stakeholders in the event was a brilliant one. What are the possibilities of some 'backward' states hosting the event in the future?

States have been involved since they are the direct beneficiaries of investments and other areas of interactions with overseas Indians be it education, business, healthcare, philanthropy, tourism and infrastructure development etc. We are open to exploring different venues for hosting the event

How popular is the PIO/dual citizenship scheme? Which country has sent the most number of applicants for these schemes?

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme is very popular among overseas Indians since it allows life long visa facility to holders besides other benefits. The popularity of the scheme can be judged from the fact that within a year of its launch we have issued 85,500 OCI documents. The maximum number of applicants have been from the USA.

What message would you like to send to those pravasis who are still undecided about the event?

The event is for involving the overseas Indians for mutual benefit and is the biggest platform in the world that any Pravasi can get to interact with others. If any Pravasi attends the event he will not be disappointed by his decision because of the tremendous opportunities that the event offers for networking and for knowing the concerns of the government and the private sector in India.

The delegates get a direct interaction with the top leaders of the country in government and in business. The event will show to delegates what a resurgent India has to offer.

Complete coverage: Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003

 Email this Article      Print this Article
© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback