New Delhi, Jan 6 About 1,500 delegates will be participating in the three-day annual convention for overseas Indians, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), which begins here on Friday. The ninth edition will have a special focus on India's northeastern region and the younger generation of the diaspora.
"Without much effort, we already have 1,300 confirmed delegates, but we are expecting at least 1,500 delegates to participate," Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi told reporters on Wednesday.
The estimated population of the Indian diaspora is 25 million, with significant pockets in the Gulf, South East Asia and the US. The Indian government has been organising Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) since 2003 in the first week of January to coincide with Jan 9, the day when Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.
With a special focus on the northeast in 2011, the event is being held in partnership with the ministry for development of the northeastern region and the state governments of the eight northeastern states - Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
The ninth edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will kick off at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre in the heart of the capital Friday with a series of parallel plenary session on health and education issues related to the diaspora. There will also be a special discussion on successful diaspora role models from the northeast.
The event will be officially inaugurated Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. New Zealand governor-general Anand Satyanand will be the chief guest.
There will be a special plenary session on investment opportunities in the northeast, which will be addressed by the chief ministers of all the eight states in the region.
"We have great hopes from PBD," Minister of Development of North Eastern Region B.K. Handique said.
The participating delegates will also have an opportunity to interact with three senior members of the Indian cabinet - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Roads and Highways Minister Kamal Nath.
There will also be a plenary session to look at ways to engage with the younger generation of the Indian diaspora and involve them in the evolving India story.
Ravi had also stressed the need to improve the "connectivity of young overseas Indians" with the mother country. "These young people are born and brought up outside, but there is always a bit of India in all Indians. I want to arouse that feeling," said Ravi.
The annual C.K. Prahalad memorial lecture will be delivered on the subject of inclusive growth by Gautam Ahuja, chairperson, Corporate Strategy and International Business group, University of Michigan Business School.
President Pratibha Patil will deliver the valedictory address Jan 9 and confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards at the closing session.