Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January 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, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.
PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.
During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honored with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India’s growth. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.
The 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention will be held from 7 to 9 January, 2017 at Bengaluru in Karnataka. The theme of 2017 PBD is “Redefining Engagement with Indian Diaspora”. It will see close to 3000 Non-Residential Indians (NRI) and PIO delegates from across the world.

PBD was not the same in the initial years compared to what it is today. Over the years it has changed in better directions with new initiatives and ideas. It became more focused on achieving its goal to engage the diaspora in much productive ways. The first three PBDs had no tag line. The fourth edition in Hyderabad for the first time came with a tag line – : Coming Together, Working Together.
The interactions with the community also increased with more interactive plenary and working sessions. Specific sectors were targeted for investment opportunities. All these initiatives successfully created a true ‘Local platform for Global Indians.’

 

Here is a look at the previous Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations:

Year 2003: The first PBD was held in New Delhi.

The topics of the main plenary sessions were

‘India and the Diaspora – Forging a Constructive Relationship’

Science and Technology in India – Networking for Excellence’

The Global Business Matrix and the Indian Diaspora

Prominent Speakers included – Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Dr. L. M. Singhvi, Rajya Sabha MP and Chairman, Organizing Committee of PBD, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, External Affairs Minister.

Year 2004: The second PBD was also held in New Delhi. The topics of the main plenary sessions were

India and the Pravasi Bharatiyas: Policies for Productive Engagement

 

Diaspora Youth and India: Blueprint for Engagement

 

Globalization, Indian Economy and the Diaspora

 

India and the Diaspora: Vision 2020

Education Synergies between India and the Diaspora

 

Prominent Speakers included – Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Yashwant Sinha, External Affairs Minister, Arun Jaitley, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Industrialist Mukesh Ambani

Year 2005: The third PBD was held in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The topics of the main plenary sessions were

India: A hub for Globalization

 

New Initiatives for the Diaspora

 

Disaster Management and Rehabilitation

 

India and generation Next

Prominent Speakers included – P Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, Raghuram Rajan, Economic Counsellor and Director Research Dept, IMF, Industrialist Ratan Tata

Year 2006: The fourth PBD was held in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Theme: Coming Together, Working Together

The topics of the main plenary sessions were

Defining a Diaspora Agenda

 

India: The Knowledge Powerhouse

 

Diaspora collaboration in Healthcare

Remittance services

This was the first time that an Interactive Plenary session with all state was held.

Prominent Speakers included – P Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, Oscar Fernandes, MOS (IC), Dr. Mohanbir Sawhney Professor of Marketing, Kellogg School, USA

Year 2007: The fifth PBD was held in New Delhi.

Theme: Rooting for the Roots

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

Challenges of development in the Global context

Developmental Challenges of the States: Partnership Opportunities

 

How to get US $1.5 trillion of capital investment: The resource hurdle for development

 

Leveraging Technology for Development

 

Planning for development – How to include the Indian Diaspora

 

There were many working sessions as well including one on ‘GOPIO: Engaging PIOs in India’s Development.’

 

Prominent Speakers included Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry, Sam Pitroda, Chairman of Knowledge Commission, Asook Ramsara, Secretary General, GOPIO

 

Year 2008: The sixth PBD was again held in New Delhi.

Theme: Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

Social Development Challenges in India – Health and Education

 

Investment and Infrastructure

 

Trade & Business Opportunities

 

Developmental Challenges of the States: Partnership Opportunities

 

Diaspora Philanthropy: Empowerment of Rural Women

 

Couple of Concurrent sessions was also held.

 

Prominent Speakers included Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Lord Karan Billimoria

 

Year 2009: The seventh PBD was held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Theme: Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

India as an Emerging Power: The Diaspora Factor

 

Reflections on Current Economic Crisis: Diaspora Concerns

 

Indian Diaspora: Preservation of Language and Culture

 

The number of Regional working sessions increased to seven.

Prominent Speakers included Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs, Ashwin Patel Chairman, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Thomas Abraham Chairman, GOPIO International

Year 2010: The 8th PBD was held in New Delhi.

Theme: Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

Interaction with Union Ministers: Diaspora – Role and Expectation

 

Interaction with PIO Ministers and Dignitaries: Diaspora – Interest and Concerns

 

Session with Chief Ministers: Skills Development

 

Prominent Speakers included Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance, Renu Khator Chancellor and UH President, University of Houston, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University

Year 2011: The 9th PBD was held in New Delhi again.

Theme: Engaging the Global Indian

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

Engaging Young Overseas Indians

Opportunity India: Interaction with Union Ministers

Investment opportunities in the North Eastern Region

Interaction with Chief Ministers on Inclusive Growth

Prominent Speakers included Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, USA based filmmaker Mira Nair, Ruby Dhalla Member of Parliament, Canada

Year 2012: The 10th PBD was held in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Theme: Global Indian – Inclusive Growth

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

Inclusive Growth: Two Decades of Economic Liberalization

 

Business Session: Partnering for Prosperity

 

Global Indian: State initiatives and Opportunities

 

Prominent Speakers included Preeta Bansal Noted Attorney and Former Senior Obama Administration Official, Dr Thomas Abraham Founder, GOPIO, Dr Shashi Tharoor, MP

 

Year 2013: The 11th PBD was held in Kochi, Kerala.

Theme: Engaging Diaspora – The Indian Growth Story

The topics of the main plenary sessions were:

India’s Growth: Greater Opportunities

 

Heritage and Diaspora

Engaging Young Overseas Indians

 

Prominent Speakers included Hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, Naval Bajaj President, Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce

Year 2014: The 12th PBD was held in New Delhi.

Theme: Engaging Diaspora – Connecting across Generations

Year 2015: The 13th PBD was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Theme: Apna Bharat Apna Gaurav: Connecting Across Generations

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane attended that year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, commemoration to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa 100 years ago. The chief guest of the 13th PBD was Guyana President Donald Ramota.

In 2015, The External Affairs Ministry decided to revise and re-energize the format of the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention. Accordingly, it was decided that the PBD Convention will be held bi-annually and that, in the intervening year, smaller, outcome-based PBD conferences will be organized in New Delhi on issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora and the Government. The 14th PBD was held in New Delhi 7-9 January, 2016.