This year’s theme is “Engaging Diaspora: Connecting Across Generations” and this is the first time that the Youth PBD is being held on the first day of the event.

Making a strong pitch for greater connectivity with diaspora youth, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi on Tuesday said partnerships between young Indians in the country and those residing overseas in industry and social sectors would create jobs and bring prosperity.

He was speaking after inuagarating the 12th edition of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD), India’s flagship annual event to connect with its global diaspora, which kicked off on Tuesday with special focus on “engagement with the youth“.

Referring to the opportunities for growth and development that India’s growing economy presents today, he said “the interactions should foster greater connectivity between Indian and diaspora youth, which should eventually result in economic cooperation leading to the creation of wealth, livelihoods and prosperity.”

Mr. Ravi said that in this age of globalisation, there are greater trade and business links between nations.

“Indian youth and their diaspora counterparts should come together in developing strong networks, which would lead to partnerships in trade, industry, entrepreneurship and social work,” he said.

“This will lead to the creation of wealth and employment, which will benefit the masses at large. Our goal should be to build a strong global connect of youth for this purpose,” he said.

This year’s theme is “Engaging Diaspora: Connecting across Generations” and this is the first time that the Youth PBD is being held on the first day of the event.

“It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of our working population is between the age group of 18-35 years and are contributing immensely to the growth and development of our great country India,” Mr. Ravi said.

The PBD will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday while Malaysia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Y B Datuk Seri Palanivel will be the chief guest.

More than a thousand delegates are participating in the three-day event which is expected to open up horizons of a strong network of young overseas Indians to contribute to India’s engagement with youth in all sectors.

Youth Affairs and Sports minister Jitendra Singh, while talking about the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and National Service Scheme (NSS) schemes run by the government, urged overseas Indians to connect with the volunteers of these programmes and said that the government also will promote social entrepreneurship.

Mr. Singh said, “I encourage the Overseas Indian community to connect to these (NYKS and NSS) networks and work with them. Some of the brightest NSS volunteers who have been chosen to participate in the Republic Day parade are present. It is an opportunity for the Indian diaspora to interact with them,” Singh said.

He said the government promotes social entrepreneurship and provides annual investment for social entrepreneurs. This facilitates the setting up of social ventures in India by overseas Indians.

“My ministry will work to create an institutional framework under which the overseas Indians will have an opportunity to come and work with NYKS and NSS and other social organisations in India and further strengthen their ties,” he added.

Mr. Singh said that 27.5 per cent of the country’s population belongs to the 15-29 year age group, while 41.3 per cent are in the 13-35 year group. By the year 2020, the population of India is expected to have an average age of 28 years.

This figure, when compared with 38 years in the US, 42 years in China and 48 in Japan, makes India one of the youngest nations in the world, he added.

President Pranab Mukherjee will deliver the valedictory address on January 9 and will confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards which will be given to 14 people this time.

A special session on “Issues of NRIs in the Gulf” will also be organised this year to discuss the problems faced by them and their possible remedies.

Speaking at another session of the Pravasi Bharati conclave, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the credit for holding the meet should go to the NRI community.

He claimed that in this age of internet, border controls and visas have less significance as it was fast becoming a “seamless world“.

“Internet represents the largest ungoverned space on planet Earth... The world is marked by two civilisations today — the physical civilisation and the virtual civilisation,” Mr. Tewari said.

He expressed hope that the conclave will see a constructive and fruitful engagement between the diaspora, the Indian government and people.

In reply to a question, the Minister accepted that there was a need for a more robust broadcast system to reach out to global viewers.