The last concluded 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas had evidently failed to contribute to any kind of beneficial reforms in the lives of ordinary expatriates.
Analysing the 14th edition convention of the three-day PBD, being held in Bengaluru alone is sufficient to prove that it was a failure. The Prime Minister‘s address of the representatives of the Indian diaspora across the world makes it clear that the prospects of betterment of the expatriates, particularly those residing in the Gulf regions are miles away. The PM said that he respected the 30 million NRIs, not just for their strength in numbers but for the invaluable contributions of Rs 6, 900 crore dollars annually they make to India,enriching the country’s economy. However, he announced only a skill development program called the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana for youths seeking employment abroad. Amidst the foreign investors globally losing faith on the Indian economy following the note ban, the focus of his talk was on recommending the Indian entrepreneurs abroad to play ‘middle-men’ to bring in foreign investments to the country. The PM mainly focussed on justifying his financial policies that had led to the current economic stagnancy. He also declared a ‘reward’ for those who helped in improving his persona at the international level. Dr Bharat Barai, an Indian-American based in Chicago, who was instrumental in the grand success of the historic Madison Square Garden event of Prime Minister Modi in New York in September 2014, was selected for the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. It’s the highest civilian award given to overseas Indians and people of Indian origin. It clearly reveals the interest of Bengaluru convention as well as the message conveyed by the PM as well as the government to the rich NRIs.
The convention that aimed to connect ad engage with the Indian diaspora scattered across the globe but has failed to address their concerns and find solutions to their issues. No step was taken to make the retirement life of the expatriates worthwhile by turning their income into investments. The government still displays laxity in collecting and maintaining complete details of the NRIs. All the estimates related to the expatriate population are merely based on assumptions. When asked about the amount of revenue to the central exchequer in terms of immigration clearance, the government had no specific estimates. No Indian ambassadors in the gulf countries will be able to give the exact information about the number of Indians living in their concerned countries. Modi said that the welfare and safety of all Indians abroad was the government’s ‘top priority’. The NRIs, who are subjected to the sloppiness and negligence of the diplomats, would be taking in the PM’s statement with contempt. Earlier there were at least certain promises to look forward to. There were also opportunities as well as the presence of senior officials to raise concerns. Although not adequately, the gulf sector, being the region that houses biggest number of Indian expatriates who send home a huge amount of remittances, had also got some representation. This time, the region was fully neglected from the government’s agenda. The authorities handling foreign affairs has turned into those who aren’t even aware of the necessity of creating a platform for voicing the grievances of the expatriates and sharing their complaints.
The three-day program makes obvious the government’s motive. As far as the PBD convention is concerned, the Centre doesn’t have any intentions other than increasing the investments and tactfully utilising the expatriate community and organisations to boost the image of the government. Other than an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to improve their ties with the Centre and boost their business prospects, such events are unproductive and a total wastage of expenditure. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention doesn’t touch the lives of ordinary expatriates or contribute towards their betterment. The decision to scrap such an event would be happily welcome.