26-Mar-2017
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Economic reforms focus at Pravasi Bhartiya Divas

NEW DELHI Jan 4: Latest wave of economic reforms including overhaul of indirect taxes through proposed GST will be projected significantly by the government at the three-day Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) beginning Saturday at Bengaluru to woo overseas Indian investors and make them part of India's growth story.
 
The convention, being held biennially for the first time instead of earlier annual versions, will aim at redefining India's engagement with its 3.12 crore strong diaspora in diverse spheres including innovation, start-ups, tourism and education.
 
On January 7, a youth PBD will be held with a focus on encouraging diaspora youths to reconnect with their Indian roots and the event will formally be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 8, secretary (Overseas Indian Affairs) Dnyaneshwar M Mulay told a press conference.
 
Mulay said government will project various reforms initiatives as well as schemes aimed at spurring economic growth at the convention and a separate exhibition on them will also highlight the measures.
 
Asked whether delegates from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir will attend the conclave, he said PBD is an open event and people from Indian territory including PIO and NRIs can seek online registration. Pressed further on whether people from PoK have applied for registration, he said there was no such information.
 
To queries on alleged incidents of molestation in Bengaluru during New Year celebrations, days ahead of the prestigious convention, Industries Commissioner of Karnataka Government Gaurav Gupta said a probe was on and insisted the city is one of the safest in India.
 
The valedictory session on January 9 will be addressed by President Pranab Mukherjee who will also confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to eminent overseas Indians.
 
Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa will be the chief guest at the 14th PBD which will be attended by over 4,000 delegates from across the globe. 36-year-old vice-president of Suriname Michael Ashwin Satyandre Adhin will be the Special Guest at the Youth PBD.
 
A number of senior union ministers and chief ministers of at least eight states have confirmed their participation at the convention.
 
The PBD was launched by Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003 to step up India's engagement with its diaspora and the congregation of NRIs and Persons of India origins had continued as an annual event till 2015. Last year, the government had decided to make it a biennial event.
 
January 9 is the main day of PBD as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the "greatest Pravasi", returned to India from South Africa and led India's freedom struggle.
 
The organisers have developed a mobile app to help delegates navigate various events and programmes at the convention.
 
Mulay said decisions of previous PBDs were thoroughly deliberated upon in 10 sessions and major initiatives and outcomes will be presented before the plenary at the upcoming PBD and thereafter larger engagement with the diaspora will be held. The decisions will be forwarded to concerned departments and ministries.
 
Replying to a question, another MEA official said an earlier proposal to set up a PIO university in India has been dropped.
 
Asked whether government was looking at addressing grievances of Girmitiya people on issuance of PIO cards, Mulay said various recommendations in this regard has been under consideration.
 
The Girmitya people had petitioned the government saying only three or four generations were being issued PIO cards and the limit should be extended further. Girmityas are descendants of indentured Indian labourers who are settled in countries like Mauritius and Fiji.
 
The topics for discussions at plenary sessions include - realising India's development vision, partnering with diaspora to accelerate tourism in the country and India as a global health and wellness hub.
 
The PBD will have provisions for business-to-business meetings and delegates will have opportunities to talk to senior officials of various departments as well as ministers and chief ministers.
 
Though the list of dignitaries figures the name of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, she will not attend the conclave as she had recently undergone a kidney transplant at AIIMS. - PTI