Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated every year to recognize the contributions of the overseas Indian community. My first personal experience at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in Delhi for three consecutive days was a very interesting one and I had the opportunity to meet the Indian Diaspora (NRI’s and PIO’s) from different parts of the world. They were mainly journalists, businessmen, observers, diplomats, entrepreneurs, professors, economists, and scientists. They were friendly and enthusiastic to interact with when approached.
This celebration is momentous as it helps to develop productive interaction of the Indian Diaspora with India and this becomes the underlying aim of the Parvasi Bharatiya Divas. It became a larger platform to discuss the important issues with the Indian Government. And delegates from different parts of the world come, participate and put forward their ideas and view on various issues. The event allows a lot of activities like conferences and policy discussions, exhibitions and cultural entertainment programs. The conference was divided into three plenary sessions where they could interact with the cabinet ministers of India, the People of Indian Origin (PIO’s) ministers and the Chief Ministers from different states in India. One can say that it was a high profile conference. There were different topics relating to different fields but the most important was given to investment policy. As India is a rising global economic power, it has become a favored destination for investment from various quarters.
During the interaction with the Chief Ministers of different states, the one which took my attention was the Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. Instead of investment policy, he was more interested in the field of tourism. He wanted as many people to visit as he believes that tourism is an instrument of economic growth and it has contributed a lot in developing the economy particularly in Kashmir and Ladakh valley. This led me to believe that Tourism might be the most important industry of the 21st century. There were also several talks on different related issues by the other Chief Ministers.
However, as is common in conferences, the time allotted for discussion period was limited. And I feel people could not express their true opinions because of this.During my interaction with a Malaysian delegate, there was one interesting thing that really got my attention. The NRI’s and the PIO’s living in Malaysia do not enjoy a comfortable life compared to NRI’s and PIO’s living in other countries. Apparently, Indians are neglected and there is plenty of racial discrimination in Malaysia. They came and attended this conference so that they could raise this issue of alleged human rights violations. They need and seek help from the Indian Government so that they can have a better life for themselves and their fellow beings. This was really shocking information for me, as I never imagined that such incidents would happen among Indians in Malaysia.
On the last day of the conference there was an award distribution program for the NRI’s and the PIO’s by the President of India for various achievements, outstanding performances and contributions to the development of India. Indians abroad have done extremely well in their individual fields, and have attained high prestige and honor among their respective countries.
By attending Parvasi Bharatiya, I have gained knowledge and at the same time I had the opportunity to meet new friends which would be helpful for my further studies. Thus, this conference gave me insights into facts that I never really thought about. I am really grateful to my university for the financial support, my lecturers and friends for their support.
The second conference which I attended was the North East India International Meet held in Guwahati organized by the Friends of Assam and Seven Sister (FASS) in association with the Government of Assam. This conference is an effort to bring together on a common platform the rich Diaspora: its people, its well wishers, its various stakeholders and all those who may have had in the past or even now have emotional, social, commercial, or official bondage with the region.
The conference was held for one and half days and divided into three plenary sessions on the first day and two plenary sessions on the second day. Educationalists, social workers, professionals, entrepreneurs and various organizations attended this conference. They hailed from different parts of the world, and there were a lot of people from within India as well. This meet did not really fulfill my expectations. The term ‘North East’ is habitually used to describe the eight sister states of northeast India but unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to meet people from the other states except the people from the state of Assam. Moreover, the topic in the plenary session was basically all about the state of Assam and the development of Assam, as the speakers were all from the state of Assam. This however, does not mean that I was disappointed but was in fact very pleased with the positive response I got from the people I met there.