Theme of this year's convention is ‘Global Indian: Inclusive Growth'

The 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conclave got off to a flying start here on Saturday with a colourful display, depicting the rich and vibrant Rajasthani culture, followed by half-a-dozen parallel brainstorming sessions convened on subjects such as water management, solar energy, health care, tourism and tapping the potential of youth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will formally inaugurate the prestigious annual event with his address at the main venue, the B.M. Birla Auditorium, on Sunday. The chief guest, Indian-origin Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad Bissessar, arrived here on Saturday.

The theme of this year's three-day convention is “Global Indian: Inclusive Growth.” Over 10 Union Ministers as well as Chief Ministers of six States are scheduled to address the delegates on different aspects of the country's development process.

Among those taking part in this flagship event will be about 1,500 NRIs and persons of Indian origin from 54 countries, leading businessmen, industrial magnates, government functionaries and young entrepreneurs.

Ms. Bissessar met acting Rajasthan Governor Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot here. Mr. Patil apprised her of the desert State's cultural heritage and the rapid strides being made in the modern scientific and industrial realms.

The Trinidad and Tobago Premier asked Mr. Gehlot to consider teaming up for a proposed oil refinery here, while pointing out that oil and natural gas production comprised 40 per cent of the gross domestic product of her country. Ms. Bissessar said her country had 100 years of experience in this sector.

Mr. Gehlot later told journalists that the State government would not expect huge investments from the event's participants, but would like to enhance interaction with the diaspora and seek their suggestions for giving a suitable direction to development: “This [event] would enable NRIs from all walks of life to come and see what is happening in their country.”

The Prime Minister is scheduled to interact with the State Council of Ministers for an hour at the Raj Bhavan here after inaugurating the conclave. Mr. Gehlot and his Cabinet colleagues are expected to apprise Dr. Singh of the State government's performance and difficulties over the past three years.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi inaugurated the Protector of Emigrants (POE) office at Sitapura on the outskirts of Jaipur. He said the ninth POE office established in the country would render assistance to the large number of people from the State who went abroad for jobs, particularly to the Middle East. The new office would do away with the need for prospective emigrants to travel to Delhi for emigration clearance, while the registered recruiting agents could file their applications online.

Addressing a seminar ‘Solar energy: Investment and R&D,' Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said the sector could help preserve the global ecological balance. He emphasised the need for increased efficiency and better technology for harnessing the true potential of solar energy. The national diaspora could consider making investments for generating capacity and R&D, Mr. Abdullah said.

Speaking at a seminar ‘Health and wellness: Partnering with the diaspora,' Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the share of healthcare in the GDP should be enhanced from the present 1 per cent to 2.5 per cent. The Centre was considering allowing medical practitioners having post-graduate degrees from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to practise in India, Mr. Azad said.

President Pratibha Patil will address the closing ceremony of the conclave on Monday and give away awards to NRIs and PIOs in recognition of their achievements in different fields.

The three-day event has been jointly organised by the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the State government.

More In: National | News