India’s flagship annual event to connect with its diaspora spread across the globe will begin here on Thursday which will primarily focus on boosting investment and sharing of expertise.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will address the eighth edition of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas on Friday while President Pratibha Patil will deliver her valedictory address on January 9.

Nearly 1,500 delegates from over 50 countries including top businessmen, economists, entrepreneurs and scientists will participate in the three-day event which will also see participation of 15 chief ministers and several Union ministers.

One of the major highlight of the event will be the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council, comprising 20 top global business leaders and economists of Indian origin including Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, steel magnate L. N. Mittal and Pepsi chief Indra Nooyi. The meeting is scheduled to be held at Prime Minister’s residence on Thursday.

The eighth edition of the flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has been structured differently this time with a view to provide the delegates with an opportunity to interact with Union ministers and chief ministers.

The theme of this year’s event is “Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward“.

Union ministers scheduled to attend the event include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Organisers said the delegates will be able to raise with the Union ministers issues concerning overseas Indians including matters related to two-way trade and investment.

There will be interactive sessions with the chief ministers also so that issues related to the states could be addressed by their governments on priority basis to help NRIs contribute to the country of their origin.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said investment promotion, sharing of knowledge and property issues relating to the expatriates will be among the main themes of the event.

The congregation will have four concurrent sessions on investment, knowledge sharing, philanthropy and gender issues.

There will be also be separate seminar on property related issues of the overseas Indian community.

The event will also see the launching of an annual lecture series under the overarching theme of “India and its Diaspora: Everlasting Bonds of Togetherness“.

Another unique feature will be that for the first time the proceedings of the event can be watched live on the website of the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry (www.moia.gov.in).

The PBD conventions, held for some seven years now, provide the largest platform to the PIOs and NRIs for exchange of views and networking on matters of common interest and have been successful in linking overseas Indians to country of their origin.

On the cards is also a golf tournament and seminars on nano—technology and property related issues of NRIs and PIOs.

The event is being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in partnership with Delhi government.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) would be the institutional partner.

Among the decisions taken by the government as a result of wider consultations held at the annual event are establishment of Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, conceptualisation of PIO/NRI University, formation of Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council, setting up of the India Development Foundation and launching of the Global Indian Network of Knowledge.

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