Home / Current Affairs / In nod to Mahatma Gandhi, khadi to be theme of 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

In nod to Mahatma Gandhi, khadi to be theme of 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi regularly borrowing from Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings in the past few months, including his pet project of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’, all eyes are set on the 13th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 (PBD) to be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. 

This year’s PBD takes the Mahatma’s legacy further with khadi as the key theme to mark the centenary of Gandhi’s homecoming from South Africa. Indian origin attendees will be taught to weave khadi, and will also be presented with gifts made of the fabric, officials said. A ‘Khadi Utsav’ featuring designs from local weavers will also be part of the event.

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, along with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, will launch the event in Gandhinagar with the Vibrant Gujarat Global Trade Show on Wednesday, January 7. 

For this year’s PBD, the chief guest is Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, where 43% of the population is of Indian origin. 

The 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is also likely to see the  Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin(PIO) cards getting clubbed, as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had announced the move last month. Merging these cards will enable PIOs to obtain life-long visas, like NRIs holding OCI cards do. At present, PIOs get visas for 15 years to acquire property here. It was the United Progress Alliance (UPA) government that had introduced a Bill — the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2013 — to merge both cards. The Bill was passed last year. 

Calling it the biggest PBD so far, Charu Mathur, chief executive officer, Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), the economic engagement arm for the diaspora of the Ministry of Overseas Indians Affairs, said there has been a spike in interest levels amongst non-resident Indians (NRIs) this year. 

The three-day event, which is dubbed as the globe’s largest gathering of diasporic Indians and which kicks off tomorrow, has seen a four-fold increase in the number of registrations by NRIs.

Government officials said the government will seek to woo NRI and PIO investments in six of its flagship programmes that include ‘Make in India’, ‘Clean Ganga Campaign’, ‘Swachh Bharat’, ‘Digital India’ and also the skills development initiative. 

While Gujarat is hosting the event, 10 other Indian states, including the non-BJP states of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Nagaland, are participating in the event. Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra, too, are part of the PBD.

PBD is celebrated on January 9 every year to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa to eventually lead the country to independence from British rule. 

To mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return, the Gujarat government this year has established a permanent exhibition titled ‘Salt Mound’ on Gandhi’s life journey at Mahatma Mandir.

The exhibition, spread across 1,25,000 square meters, has 17 domes housing over 1300 stalls and is one of the largest exhibitions in the country, Gujarat finance minister Saurabh Patel said on Tuesday.

Two domes will be dedicated to PBD-2015 for different departments of Government of India as well as various state governments to showcase specific schemes and initiatives.

Also, the Overseas Indian Facilitation Center (OIFC), the economic engagement arm of the MOIA,  will set up an interactive ‘Marketplace Forum’, a business networking platform for PBD delegates.Over 500 pre-scheduled business meetings have been planned during the PBD and the Vibrant Gujarat Summit that follows the PBD. 

“After our diaspora Engagement Meets in Bahrain and London in 2014, we have received multiple queries from the Indian diaspora on sectors of clean energy, education and skills, healthcare, infrastructure and real estate,” Mathur added. 

As per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotions (DIPP), ministry of Commerce, GoI, the total foreign direct investment (FDI) equity inflows from individual non-resident Indians (NRIs) from January 2000 to April 2013 was $ 4684.25 million. 

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