Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra: The Connection with Indian Diaspora

  • December 6, 2016

The Indian Diaspora constitutes significantly to the economic, social and cultural force in the world today. The overseas Indians are a few millions who are spread across the world. Their industry, enterprise, education, expertise and economic achievements are widely recognized and appreciated. Such people contribute immensely to our country’s growth and development in various spheres.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on January 9 every year to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the growth and development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 where Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle when it was the call of the time. The PBD convention was held every year since 2003 till 2015. Now it is held once in every two years. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to interact with the government and people of their motherland for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are extremely useful in forming a networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enabling them to share their experiences in various fields. Many of them are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to recognize their exceptional contribution in India’s growth. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.

As a step forward, a high level committee on Indian Diaspora, headed by Shri L. M. Singhvi, had recommended in January 2002 that the Government must make efforts to renew and strengthen linkages with overseas nonresident Indians (NRIs). The committee recommended that a Pravasi Bharatiya Bhavan Kendra should be set up which will act as the focal point for networking between India and its overseas Indian community. Taking this recommendation forward in January 2004, at the second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) organized in Delhi, the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced that the Government will set up the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in New Delhi.

The Foundation Stone of the Kendra was laid by the then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh at 9th PBD in January, 2011. Ground Breaking was done by the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs on 28th April, 2011 and construction started in April, 2013. Contract for construction of PBK was awarded to National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) on turnkey basis. This year, on the Gandhi Jayanti, the Kendra was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra is located at the heart of the Capital in Plots No.15A, 15B and 15D, Dr. Rizal Marg, in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. It is dedicated to the overseas Indian community and honours their migration to various parts of the world, the challenges they faced abroad, their achievements and contributions. With the passage of time, the Kendra is expected to develop into a hub of activities for unceasing, symbiotic and mutually rewarding economic, social and cultural engagement between India and its Diaspora. Activities, seminars, events, workshops pertaining to the Indian Diaspora are expected to be organized in PBK. The Museum in the Kendra will depict the history of migration of the overseas Indian community; their achievements and contributions.

In the Kendra’s state-of-the art auditorium, multi-purpose halls, Conference and seminar halls – workshops and conferences with overseas Indians and on issues pertaining to them would be organized on a regular basis. The Kendra will also house the autonomous bodies India Centre for Migration, a think-tank working on issues pertaining to Indian migrant workers and the India Development Foundation for Overseas Indians, a not-for-profit Trust promoting contributions to flagship programmes in India.

The Library in PBK is a valuable repository of material about the Indian Diaspora including books written by overseas Indians in different languages. With an emphasis on digital material, the library will provide access to online journals and prestigious library resources. The Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in New Delhi on the 2nd of October, 2016. Speaking on the occasion, he said that the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was an apt occasion for such an event. He said Mahatma Gandhi had left India, but the call of the nation brought him back. He said the Indian diaspora should be looked at, not just in terms of its numbers, but also in terms of its strength. He said that for years the term ‘brain drain’ has been in vogue. But if we look at the diaspora as our strength we can convert it this to “brain gain.”

The Prime Minister said that at a time when the world is keen to engage with India, the ‘fear of the unknown’ can be the biggest obstacle, which the Indian diaspora can help overcome. Emphasizing the importance of connecting with the diaspora, he said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had initiated the concept of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which has been continued by successive governments. The Prime Minister said that India, and especially the Ministry of External Affairs, has done significant humanitarian work in the last two years. He noted that how not only Indians, but citizens of many other countries have been rescued from conflict and disaster situations.

The Prime Minister said that India has never attacked another nation. He recalled the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers protecting foreign lands in the two World Wars, and added that the world must recognize this sacrifice. On the occasion, the Prime Minister also visited the exhibition on ‘Gandhi – Ek Pravasi’. He launched a booklet on Yoga Protocol for Diabetes control, and distributed prizes to winners of the ‘Know India’ Quiz.

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