New Delhi: India's
annual convention to connect with its 27-million strong diaspora
in over 150 countries concluded Sunday with President Pratibha
Patil honouring 14 individuals for their achievements and
enhancing India's image globally.
The awardees of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman included New Zealand
Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand and the Indian Community
Benevolent Forum in Qatar, who were formally honoured on the day
India's best-known global Indian, Mahatma Gandhi, returned to
India in 1915.
"Overseas Indians are recognised globally as the 'knowledge
diaspora'. Your skills and expertise will be vital inputs for
India's progress and inclusive growth," Patil told the 1,500
delegates from 51 countries who attended the Pravasi Bharatiya
"I hope we will see rapid increase in the number, size and scope
of activities in India by our overseas Indians. I am sure we will
also see these initiatives evolving into more comprehensive,
long-term projects with significant impact on many lives," she
"India would like to measure these projects not in terms of
monetary contributions made by members of the diaspora but in
terms of human lives touched and improved by them," the president
She announced that the next mini-Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be
held in Toronto.
Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi particularly
welcomed professionals and entrepreneurs in virtually every field
-- from healthcare and education to research and commerce -- to
participate in and benefit from India's progress.
"I urge all of you to participate and discover areas of common
interest and engagement. I especially call on our young overseas
Indians to participate with enthusiasm," Ravi told the gathering
at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre here.
The focus of this year's event was on the eight northeastern
states - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram,
Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. The speakers include several
ministers and chief ministers. Sir Anand was the chief guest.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had addressed the gathering
Saturday, had announced that India will merge the two visa
facilitation cards issued to people of Indian origin and soon
enrol non-resident Indians to help them exercise their franchise.
He also announced setting up of India cultural centres in five
more countries to project the country's soft power and provide a
global footprint to its rich diversity which he said was "making
waves" around the world.
This apart, he also unveiled the foundation stone for the Pravasi
Bharatiya Kendra here and hoped it will fulfil its envisaged role
of becoming a focal point for engagement between India and its
Te key speakers at the event included Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Haryana Chief
Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Michigan Business School's Gautam
Ahuja and tech evangelist Sam Pitroda.
Sir Anand said people of Indian origin who migrated to distant
lands thousands of miles away over the past few centuries have
never forgotten their roots. "To this day, they remain proud of
their Indian heritage."
He said till 1976 the strength of the Indian diaspora in New
Zealand numbered 6,300. But today, their numbers had swelled to
over 100,000 people, to make them second largest Asian ethnic
group in the South Pacific nation.
"The 27-million diaspora, the second largest expatriate community
in the world, can give a powerful support to India in its ongoing
path towards development. We should give our continued support to
this diaspora," said Sir Anand.
The others who received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, along with
-Prof. Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla (Australia)
-Lata Pada (Canada)
-Harindrapal Singh Banga (Hong Kong-China)
-Mohammad Munir Nazir Hassan Ansari (Israel)
-Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Liberia)
-Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh (Malaysia)
-Saleh Wahid (Netherlands)
-Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin (Saudi Arabia)
-Mano Selvanathan (Sri Lanka)
-Mohan Jashanmal (United Arab Emirates)
-Baroness Sandip Verma (Britain)
-Ashook Kumar Ramsaran and Rajiv Shah (United States)