The 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) held in Jaipur from January 7 to 9 set a tone of pragmatism with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh asking the Indian Diaspora to work together the meet the global challenges.
He said India was going through difficult times but the economy is poised to grow by 7% during the current financial year, despite an adverse international environment.
He said India can overcome the challenges with strong economic fundamentals and proven commitment to the existing constitutional mechanisms.
His speech this year was a deviation from the optimistic rhetoric heard in the previous years.
The change in the tone and the subject could be attributed to the trying circumstances experienced by the Congress Party-led coalition government of the United Progressive Alliance, not the least of which is the anti-corruption crusade by social activist Anna Hazare and his team.
The movement has found immense support among the Indian Diaspora.
Such support was visible during the PBD sessions, with the delegates asking ministers to be more accountable and implement the promises made to Indians in India and the Diaspora.
Dr Singh and his government announced a few sops such as the new ‘Pension and Life Insurance Fund,’ which will encourage overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return resettlement.
President Pratibha Patil called on the overseas Indian community to strengthen political ties between India and their country of domicile.
“We must continue to promote greater exchanges between the youth as an important aspect of forging linkages and maintaining the tradition of close bonds,” she said.
She commended the tenacity shown by overseas Indians in shaping their lives and making Indians proud in their countries of settlement.
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi reiterated the commitment of his government to allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to vote in Indian elections if they are in India when polling is held.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the government will shortly announce policy initiatives to allow overseas Indians holding bank accounts in India to remit and withdraw money easily.
Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, who was the Chief Guest, sounded even more positive about the future of India and the Diaspora.
She said she was deeply inspired by the events occurring in India, the PBD and the desire to contribute skills and resources for the benefit of humanity.
“I see this Pravasi as the spirit of yagna, selfless sacrifice for the community’s wellbeing and I applaud and draw inspiration from such commitment.
“In order to effectively reach out to one another, to the members of our Diaspora, to nations, to our neighbours, we must be proactive,” she said.
India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh lights the traditional lamp to signify the inaugural of the Tenth Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, watched by (from left) Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur on January 8, 2012 (Picture by Press Information Bureau, Government of India)