Melbourne: India is keen to harness the growing power of its Diaspora, their contribution to homeland and the progressing ties with Australia fostered by strong trade and investment links as the three-day Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas concluded on Wednesday in Sydney.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was an initiative to recognise the 4,50,000 people of Indian origin in Australia and those in New Zealand and Fiji, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Valayar Ravi said.
"India wishes to harness the growing power of its Diaspora, their contribution to homeland India and the progressing relationship between the two countries (India and Australia), fostered by strong trade and investment links," he said.
The Minister also assured overseas Indians that the government of India would continue to look out for and serve the interests of the growing Indian Diaspora that is more than 25 million around the world.
"I am very enthused with the participation and I hope to take back a lot of shared experiences that will help enhance the engagement with overseas Indians," Ravi, who launched the Seventh convention with New South Wales Premier Barry O`Farrell on Monday, said.
The event initiated several important discussions during bilateral business sessions.
Indian High Commissioner for Australia Biren Nanda said: "Participation in the event was from all states and territories of Australia and from neighbouring countries including New Zealand and Fiji, attracting about 500 delegates from the Asia Pacific region."
The convention has been overall appreciated by several participants as a positive initiative for the Indian Diaspora living in the region. However, many attendees criticised the registration fee of AUD 425 and the event being held on working days.
The convention, which began on Sunday and was officially inaugurated on Monday, was expected to attract over 1,000 attendees across the region, including from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Melbourne-based editor of South Asia Times, Neeraj Nanda, who also attended the event, said he has come back with mixed feelings about the convention.
"The convention lacked participation from the huge Indian Diaspora living here. It was focussed majorly on business and trade aspects," he said.
According to Vasan Srinivasan, interim chairman of Confederation of Indian Australian Associations, the event was a success and the initiative was positive one from the Indian High Commission (HC) here.
"I would like to congratulate Indian HC. It could have touched the expected number of attendees but working days were the reason for people skipping it," Srinivasan said.
The sessions were moderated by key business and community leaders on different aspects of India`s relationship with Australia and countries in the region, including resources, energy, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, skills and education, languages, youth, women in business and culture, among others.
Prominent dignitaries who attended the convention included Premier O`Farrell, Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill, Minister of trade and investment Andrew Robb, Senator of Tasmania Lisa Singh, former prime minister of Fiji Mahendra Pal Chaudhry and former Australian cricketer Steve Waugh.