New Delhi, Jan 07: India`s annual convention to connect with its 25-million-strong Diaspora in 130 countries began on Thursday, drawing around 1,500 delegates from over 50 nations to their land of origin.
President Pratibha Patil will address the annual convention on January 9 while Prime Minister Manmohan will address it on Friday at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre with the participation of 14 Chief Ministers and a host of key members of the federal cabinet.
The President will also give away the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to honour members of the Indian Diaspora who have made noteworthy strides in their fields of work or vocation, the organisers said.
Lord Khalid Hameed of Hampstead is chief guest at what is formally called the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The theme this year is: ‘Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward’.
The event, which coincides with the date on which Mahatma Gandhi returned to his native land from South Africa, is being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
It kicks off with a meeting of Prime Minister`s Global Advisory Council at his residence Thursday. The council includes 20 eminent people of Indian origin such as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, economist Jagdish Bhagwati, industrialist LN Mittal and Pepsico chairman Indra Nooyi.
One of the highlights of the three-day event is live webcast of the proceedings live on the website of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (www.moia.gov.in) as well as that of its official e-magazine, Pravasi Bharatiya (www.overseasindian.in).
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said there will also be several plenary sessions where the can interact with key cabinet ministers and the chief ministers of 14 states who will seek to expand economic and cultural ties with the Diaspora.
"An important session will be on the knowledge network of Indian scientists worldwide," Ravi said, ahead of the event, adding seminars on nanotechnology and property-related issues of Overseas Indians will be also be held Thursday.
On the first day, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations is organising a programme for the delegates to showcase the many facets of India`s soft power at the Durbar Hall of the Taj Palace Hotel.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna is also scheduled to host a dinner on Thursday, while Delhi Chief Minister has organised a medley of folk dances for the delegates followed by a dinner at her residence on Friday.
A new feature to be introduced at PBD 2010 is an annual lecture series by a prominent member of the Indian Diaspora. The inaugural lecture is by Professor Bhagwati who is speaking on ‘India: the role of Diaspora’ on Friday.
Indian ministers scheduled to attend the three-day event include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Key speakers from abroad include Canada`s Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar, Trinidad and Tobago`s Minister in Prime Minister`s Office Lenny K Saith, Singapore`s Community Development Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Mauritius Education Minister Vasant K Bunwaree.