Ambassador Vijay Thakur Singh, DG, ICWA
Ambassador Virendra Gupta,
Ambassador Anil Trigunayat, Prof Binod Khadria
Shri Sushil Pandit
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. At the outset, let me take this opportunity to thank Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) for organising this curtain raiser to the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held at Indore from 8-10 January 2023. I presume that this the first event being organised by ICWA this year and it is also the first event organised by the Centre for Migration, Mobility and Diaspora Studies which was created recently as a vertical under ICWA by merging the erstwhile India Centre for Immigration (ICM).
2. Since its inception in 2003, PBD has grown into an extremely important forum for us to connect and strengthen our bonds with the Overseas Indian community. In the 17th PBD we not only plan to celebrate their contribution but also reflect on the fact we are standing today on the cusp of history, when we have completed 75 years of our Independence and celebrated the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and entered the Amrit Kaal and looking forward to how we can guide the transformation of our country with our Diaspora as our invaluable partner.
3. As we are aware, the Indian population living abroad makes up the world’s largest and oldest Diaspora Our Diaspora is 32 million strong comprising of around 18.68 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and 13.45 million Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), including around 8.75 million from the Gulf countries.
4. The Indian Diaspora is spread across 210 countries from the Caribbean Islands, to Southeast Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. In Seychelles, Indians are the first settlers.
5. With the passage of time, our Diaspora has emerged as a dynamic and powerful entity which is recognized for its skill, hard work, law abiding nature and tenacity. They have been an important constituent of India’s soft power diplomacy, contributing in effective dissemination of Indian culture and heritage and traditional Indian knowledge across the globe.
6. The Indian Diaspora is also gaining political influence in their adopted lands as visible in the increasing number of Indian-origin parliamentarians including Heads of State of several countries. Over 140 sitting Members of Parliament and Mayors in over 20 countries belong to the Indian At least 7 countries have Presidents or Prime Ministers who trace their ancestry to India (UK, Ireland, Portugal, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname and Seychelles). This fits in very well with India's growing prominence in global affairs and could also be the key in advancing India’s ties with these countries.
7. Our Diaspora has not only been instrumental in propelling growth in their chosen country of residence but also in India’s development. This has been done in many ways through trade, investment, technology transfer, remittance, social capital, strategic support and cultural diplomacy for India.
8. Look at the example of remittance alone, even at the peak of pandemic, India remained the highest recipient of remittances from abroad at USD 87 billion in FY 2020-21 indicating the resilience of not only the monetary flows but also of our people. Significantly, the working class contributed as much as US$ 42 from the total remittances.
9. Indians abroad are engaged in both high as well as low-skilled occupations and have gained widespread recognition. Their intellectual capital and leadership capabilities are evident in the increasing trend of Indian-origin CEOs successfully leading global enterprises.
10. India is deeply committed to strengthening its bond with the Diaspora as we consider the Diaspora as a ‘living bridge’ in our foreign policy and a viable resource for India. In the past few years, our engagement with and outreach to the Indian Diaspora has grown Our engagement with the Diaspora is characterized under the maxim of 4Cs — Care, Connect, Celebrate and Contribute.
Ladies and gentlemen,
11. We celebrate our Diaspora by organizing the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas every two years and by conferring the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards. In fact, the PBD is not only a celebration of our rich ties with the overseas Indian community, but also a manifestation of the value we assign to remain connected with our PBD is perhaps the biggest congregation of its kind for the Diaspora anywhere in the world.
12. It is a two-way exchange of views and aspirations and enables our Diaspora to witness first-hand, the numerous ways in which their motherland is taking giant strides towards progress. It is also an opportunity and an invitation to them to connect and be part of this journey.
13. The 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be organised from 8-10 January in Indore, Madhya Pradesh which is the Partner State. PBD Convention is being organised in a physical format after a gap of 4 years. This will also be the first Convention in the ‘Amrit Kaal’.
14. We believe that as our nation marches towards the goal of making India a developed nation by 2047, our Diaspora will play a very important role in the National Development Agenda. That’s why the theme of the 17th PBD is aptly chosen as “Diaspora: Reliable Partners for India's Progress in Amrit Kaal”.
15. We intend to deliberate upon new ways to encourage further participation by the Diaspora that will provide added momentum to India’s growth story, especially in view of emerging changes ushered in by demographic shifts, technological innovation, widespread prevalence of Artificial Intelligence, remote working, gender mainstreaming, transition to renewable energy and changes in policy landscape of many destination countries.
16. We will have five Plenary sessions in the PBD on the themes of Youth, Healthcare, Soft power, Indian Workforce, and Women. Four of these sessions would be headed by a Cabinet Ministers and the panellists are drawn from different walks of life.
17. Additionally, we also wish to share with our Indian community, India’s priorities during its G20 Presidency. We have a town hall planned on the G20, where the G20 Sherpa as well as G20 coordinator will be present.
18. We have received an overwhelming response from the Diaspora, including the youth to the PBD. We have so far received more than 3500 registrations from 66 different countries.
19. Eighty participants of 63rd & 64th Know India Programme (KIP) participants have been invited to participate in the Youth PBD to be held on 8th January.
20. Going Forward:
21. I am certain that today’s discussion will offer us valuable insights towards building a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship with our Diaspora through sharing of perspectives and experiences by eminent experts in the I am happy to be chairing this panel discussion and I look forward to hearing your views.