Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Overseas Indians Day) is celebrated every year on 9 January to mark the contribution of Indians living overseas, in the development of India.
It was on this day in 1915 that perhaps the greatest Pravasi ever, Mahatma Gandhi, returned to India from South Africa.
Today, large conventions of overseas Indians are held on this day, providing a substantial platform for them to come on board with the people and Government of India.
This year’s major convention was held in Singapore, the heart of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).
This was followed by the first ever PIO Parliamentary Conference in Delhi which was attended by 124 Members of Parliaments and 17 mayors from 23 countries across the globe.
In the conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the special importance his government has begun to place on overseas-settled Indians and their contribution to the development of their homeland.
The Prime Minister’s speech was played for viewers here in Perth, gathered at an event organised by the Consulate General of India.
The video was followed by informative and interactive talk from Consul General Amit Mishra, who welcomed the enthusiastic NRI audience to the first Indian consular function of the year 2018.
He listed other NRI programs being supported by the Government of India such as: MADAD Students registration portal, OCI, scholarship for diaspora children, Bharat Ko Janiye quiz and VAJRA scheme.
Following this, Mishra formally introduced the India Development Foundation (IDF) led by the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, which funds some prolific projects in India such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and also works on various themes of sanitation, education, women’s empowerment etc.
The IDF’s message of “Be the change you want to be” and “Building the India of your dreams” resonated among the attendees: the program inducted them to a platform where they could connect to their ancestral roots by participating in India’s journey of change.
Gauging the enthusiasm, Mishra invited a few members of the audience to share their experiences of living in Australia.
Atul Garg has been living here for 25 years; he served in the Indian Navy, and is currently working on suicide prevention within the Indian community in WA.
Satinder Singh Samra came to Australia 42 years ago, influences by Khushwant Singh’s essay “Land of opportunity”.
He started the Sikh Association here in 1975-76 and along with others from his village now settled in Perth is contributing back to his homeland by funding social projects there.
Perth pravasis are making a mark in every field – as academics, medicos, corporates, entrepreneurs, artists – and contributing significantly to both their janmabhoomi as well as karmabhoomi.