PBD closes; Engagement extremely substantive, says govt

PBD closes; Engagement extremely substantive, says govt

The three-day 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, a mega meet of the Indian disapora which saw its largest convergence, came to an end in the IT city today, with the government saying the PBD engagement was "extremely substantive" and outcome oriented.

"This year we have had a very large gathering, we have had more than 7200 people who registered, we have had more than 2000 people who came from abroad.., Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh told reporters.

"The general impression that we get after talking to people is that this time we were able to attract much larger crowd whether they were at the sessions or at the exhibition area," he said.

Pointing out that for the first time all the space for the exhibition was sold out, he said, "I'm quite sure with this as the marker we will have to work very hard for the next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2019.

PBD is held with an aim to provide a platform to overseas Indians to engage with the government on issues of concern to the diaspora and to explore opportunities for investment in India and contribution to the country of their origin.

The event, launched by the Vajpayee government in 2003, also provides an opportunity to the overseas Indians to network with other overseas Indians residing in various parts of the world. It continued as an annual event till 2015 when the government decided to make it biennial.

Singh said the format was changed so that in the intervening year, issues concerning pravasis could be addressed in great detail to ensure better results.

As per this, ten different issues were discussed last year by panels that had pravasis as well as Indian experts and recommendations were made.

"In this event, we have presented the recommendations and asked more suggestions so that we finalise the recommendations and convert them into executables..."

Calling it a great initiative, Singh said action taken report on all the other recommendations had been made.

Speaking on behalf of the Karnataka government, partner state for PBD 2017, Industries Minister R V Deshpande said Karnataka also takes pride that it had hosted the largest ever PBD since inception and thanked union government for providing the opportunity to project the state as a destination for investment and a hub for innovation and science.

Singh said most of the problems that were raised during the PBD were from Gulf countries and Malaysia, because there is a large labour force there.

"Our aim has been to find a solution to the issue, most of them were of generic nature and those that can be solved by discussion with their ambassador," he said.

"Take away (from this event), in the coming years a greater emphasis will be given on ensuring that government schemes, programmes, outreach programmes of the MEA goes out in a bigger manner to all the countries," Singh said.

Stating that PBD engagement has been extremely  substantive, outcome oriented, with wide ranging issues been discussed, Secretary- MEA (OIA and CPV) Dnyaneshwar Mulay said it was a different format altogether and people were extremely positive about the format.

He said "attendance was extremely good, the economic engagement has been one of the important aspects of this PBD. ...; economic engagements whether it is startups, innovation, human resource development all these aspects were discussed."

To a question that out of 7,200 people who registered, only 2000 people had come from abroad, Singh said it was wrong to perceive it that way as many pravasis who had already come for holidaying attended the event along with their families.

On the commemorative for the event like the stamp that was released last year, Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said this year a select compilation of Prime Minister's speeches on foreign policy issues in 2014-15 had been made, the forward for which has been written by President Pranab Mukherjee.

On investments that government expects after the PBD, Singh said the event itself was not to attract investment, but to facilitate and showcase opportunity for investment.

Endorsing Singh, Deshpande said PBD was to understand the grievances of pravasis and to know about the steps taken by the government, "not that on itself it garners investments, but it provides an opportunity to market state like ours."

Responding to a question on lack of facility at the venue to convert foreign currency for PBD delegates who have come from abroad, Singh said he will look into it and ensure no inconvenience happens next time, if it has happened this year.

However, Mulay said ATMs were installed at the venue to facilitate delegates.

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