For the last 12 years, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has become an annual pilgrimage for many non-resi- dent Indians and Person’s of Indian Origin.
I have had opportunity to attend all eleven PBDs starting from 2003. The first one was attended by almost
4,000 delegates. Since then, the delegates’ attendance has
been shrinking, although in the last five years, it has
remained between 1,500 to 2000.
PBD has lost its charm in attracting important players
among NRIs/PIOs. We need to have some new ideas to
make it appealing to overseas Indians.
The last decade has seen NRIs/PIOs becoming enormously rich, thanks to the information technology revolution. The Indian Diaspora has become a most sought after
group to be attracted for investments, whether it is in
developing countries like Trinidad and Mauritius or countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia who
want new investments.
The biggest contribution from the global Indian
Diaspora has been to build a positive image of India in
other countries. The Diaspora has contributed to
increased trade, investments and business opportunities
between India and the countries they live in.
Many of these are experts in different fields and their
talents should be used for India’s development by motivat-
ing them to attend the event and fully utilize their visit to
People of Indian origin could assume a new role in providing help in case of crisis to their communities around
the world. India too can do a lot so that its overseas children can give back to their motherland.
Need for mobilizing the community
As a first step toward bringing our communities together, the Indian-American community, under the leadership
of the National Federation of Indian American
Associations, took the initiative to organize the First
Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New
York in 1989.
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin was
formed at this convention to help in networking our communities and take up common issues to the larger community.
Although, our initial thrust was in human rights violations of Diaspora Indians worldwide, our objectives have
now changed to creating economic opportunities by pooling our professional and financial resources to achieve
economic progress not only for our Diaspora communities, but also for India.
A strong India helps NRIs too
In the last 3 decades, the perception of India has consid-
erably changed from a poor country trying to survive itself
to a country with the latest technology achievements. It is
in the interest of NRIs/PIOs to achieve a developed and
strong India. And we are committed to do our parts in
With a large number of NRIs taking active interest in
India’s development, several new non-governmental
organizations have been launched worldwide to promote
education, health care water management, rural development and self-help programs.
NRIs and PIOs are also increasingly supporting several
non-governmental organizations in India in a range of
developmental, educational and social programs. PBD has
been providing platforms to discuss how NRIs/PIOs could
actively participate with government agencies and NGOs
in India. Interaction with the right authorities in India
could motivate more NRIs/PIOs to help in developing a
What the Indian government can do
With the emerging economic influence of the overseas
Indian community, the government of India took several
steps to bring the Diaspora closer to the motherland.
GOPIO and other Diaspora organizations have been
campaigning on several issues for the last two decades.
We have over 10 million Indian passport holders living
outside India. India has also accorded voting rights for
Indians living outside the country.
However, very few NRI citizens can avail this opportunity since they have to be present in their hometown when
the voters lists are updated.
There is no opportunity to register by mail. Also, voters
have to be present in person to vote at the assigned
polling booth. The only solution to this is to accord mail
voting or online electronic voting.
A truly democratic way to provide representation to
S4PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS 2014/NEWS India Abroad January 2014
Indian citizens living outside India in the Indian parlia-
The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is a good platform for India to connect
with its Diaspora. Their talents should be used for the country’s development,
says Thomas Abraham
Forging a new role
The first PBD in 2003 was attended by
almost 4,000 delegates. Since then, the
attendance has been shrinking. We need to
have some new ideas to make it appealing,
says Dr Thomas Abraham.