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Transcript of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017: Curtain Raiser Briefing (January 2, 2017)

January 03, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Good evening friends and welcome to the first press briefing of 2017. Let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very happy and peaceful 2017.

Today as you know we have gathered to give you a briefing on the forthcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017. This is going to be the first PBD to be held under the new format about which External Affairs Minister had briefed you in her press conferences. So we are here to tell you more about this very important event which really marks the engagement with the diaspora for us.

I have with me a very distinguished panel, Secretary Overseas Indian Affairs and CPV, Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay. Then I have with me Commissioner Industrial Development from the Government of Karnataka, Shri Gaurav Gupta and of course Mrs. Vani Rao Joint Secretary, Overseas Indian Affairs too.

The way we will handle this is Secretary OIA will give you a broad understanding of the program of the Pravaasi Bharatiya Divas and what we expect from it and then Shri Gaurav Gupta will brief you on the Bengaluru specific and rather the Karnataka specific details. After all there is a particular reason why we chose to partner with the government of Karnataka this time so he will brief you in greater detail on that aspect. With that I give the floor to Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay.

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Good afternoon friends. The Ministry is organizing the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention from 7 - 9 January in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention is a very important platform for engagement of the government of India and the state governments with the overseas Indian community. PBD has been held traditionally on 9th January every year to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi as a Pravasi from South Africa to India.

Presently there are nearly 3.12 crore i.e. about 31.2 million overseas Indians settled globally, of which nearly 1.34 crore i.e. 13.4 million are Persons of Indian Origin and 1.78 crore i.e. 17.8 million are Non Resident Indians. The first PBD was held in January 2003 in New Delhi. So far 13 editions of the PBD Convention have been held, the last in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in January 2015 which coincided with the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return from South Africa.

The PBD is often held in cities outside Delhi in partnership with states which have large diaspora populations outside Delhi. PBD Conventions have traditionally seen participation of a large number of Overseas Indians, however the convention was becoming a repetitive event without significant outcomes therefore the PBD format has been revamped under the guidance of Hon’ble EAM. The Government has therefore decided that the PBD Convention will henceforth be held once in two years. As per this decision in 2016, ten PBD Conferences were held in New Delhi on subjects of relevance to both overseas Indian community and the Government of India. To each of these conferences we invited overseas Indians who are domain experts in their respective fields, policy makers and stakeholders in India, enabling a direct dialogue between the overseas Indians and stakeholders in India.

The 14th PBD Convention will be held from 7 to 9 January, 2017, in Bengaluru in partnership with the State of Karnataka with the theme "Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora.” We have been working closely with the government of Karnataka and the representative here today, to organize the event and we appreciate the cooperation and assistance which we are receiving from the state government and various departments which are involved on their behalf.

I will now run through some main program elements of the 14th PBD Convention. First, the Youth Pravaasi Divas. On January 7, the Youth PBD will be inaugurated by Shri Vijay Goel, Minister of State Independent Charge for Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh. Vice President of Surinam Mr. Michael Ashwin Adhin who is just 36 years old, will be the Special Guest.

Youth PBD seeks to reconnect young overseas Indians with their Indian roots and enhance their awareness of both contemporary India and the culture and heritage of India. The inaugural session will be about the theme "Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India.” Youth PBD will see participation of 160 Indian origin youth visiting under four of our "Know India” programs, 250 graduate and postgraduate students from the National Service Scheme and 200 students from Bengaluru colleges. This has been arranged so as to have a wider representation.

Highlight of the youth PBD will be sessions on start-ups and innovations which have a social impact in India and start-up ecosystem in Karnataka. The Karnataka government will host a cultural evening focusing on their State’s music and dance forms.

On 8 January, the PBD Convention will be inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister who will deliver the keynote address. Prime Minister of Portugal Dr. Antonio Costa will be the Chief Guest for the inaugural function. Ministers from Malaysia Dato’ Seri S. Samy Vellu, Special Envoy of the Government of Malaysia for Infrastructure, Dato’ Seri Dr. S Subramaniyam, Minister of Health and Mauritius Minister Mr. Prithvi Raj Singh Roopun will also participate in the PBD as special guests.

The Union Minister of HRD Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Culture and Tourism Shri Mahesh Sharma, Minister of Health Shri J P Nadda, some ministers from the state governments and several Members of Parliament will also participate.

This will be followed by the Chief Minister's session. We invited all the Chief Minister to participate as the PBD is an excellent opportunity for them to connect with the diaspora and also showcase their respective States. Eight Chief ministers have so far confirmed including Karnataka, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry. There will be plenary sessions after lunch, the day culminates with a cultural evening hosted by the Minister of External Affairs to give a glimpse of India's varied forms of dance and music.

On January 9, i.e. the last day of the PBD convention there will be several plenary sessions on issues which are of significance to the Indian diaspora such as immigration to ECR countries, role of diaspora organizations, the Indian community in the Girmitiya countries etc. The Hon’ble President will deliver the valedictory address and confer the prestigious Pravaasi Bhartiya Samman awards on 30 Overseas Indians in India and abroad. From 2017 there will be 30 PBSA awards in each PBD convention as the awards will now be granted once in two years.

On January 9, 2017, Indian missions and consulates all over the world will also celebrate PBD in their respective jurisdictions with participation of the overseas Indian community. I would like to highlight some unique aspects of the PBD Convention this year.

The logo, you might have seen it already, the logo of the PBD was selected through an open competition launched in earlier this year. We developed a portal which gives program and highlights of the convention and is being updated regularly. Delegate registration is also through this portal. All sessions in PBD 2017 will be in plenary format and there will be no concurrent sessions. This has been done to ensure good attendance in all the sessions. All sessions will be interactive to enable a direct dialogue with the delegates through a designated Q&A session during which Overseas Indian delegates can convey their suggestions and comments. All sessions will be live streamed globally.

One of the attractions at the PBD is an exhibition which will give an opportunity to delegates to know more about the government's ongoing programs and see the vast strides that the nation has taken in various sectors and states. For the first time the PBD exhibition will have five specific themes and zones i.e. Flagship programs of the Government of India, Schemes and programs for NRIs and PIOs, Opportunities in states for Business Investment Tourism, Incentives for NRIs and PIOs etc. then Indian Handicraft and Cultural Bazaar including sale and demonstration by artisans and finally Corporate Sector, where it will feature the Indian corporate sector and PSUs etc.

The highlight of the exhibition is again a pavilion about India's top 20 social innovators which will feature 20 start-ups selected on the basis of nationwide contest organized by the Ministry of External Affairs. The contest which was organized on mygov portal, call for applications from start-ups and innovators who had a social impact in India. The winner will be awarded a certificate and cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh. There will be a designated B2B meeting lounge in the exhibition area, this is being done for the first time. We have launched a B2B platform online through which delegates can pre-arrange meetings with each other, exhibitors, corporate sector and government official who are participating in the PBD.

To enable enhanced participation of young Indian diaspora, registration fees for this segment have been reduced substantially. The registration fees for group registrations have also been rationalized so that Indian associations, Community organizations and Indian Professional organizations abroad can participate in good numbers. Our Missions and Consulates abroad will also celebrate PBD on 9th January.

More than 4000 delegates are expected to participate. We have very good registrations so far and we are hoping that there will be more registrations in the coming days, particularly from the overseas participants. We look forward to welcoming diaspora groups from Malaysia, Mauritius, UAE and Qatar which are sending groups of Overseas Indians to the PBD. Qatar is in fact sending one of its largest delegations of Overseas Indians to the PBD, nearly 140 persons. We look forward to welcoming all of them at the PBD in Bengaluru.

A mobile app for convenience of delegates has been introduced for the first time. The app PBD 2017 is available in Google Play and Apple App Store and can be installed free of cost. The app will update the delegates about program and other highlights of PBD 2017 and will give real-time updates of the event. Coupled with the fact that the venue will have free Wi-Fi, the app is expected to prove to be a useful tool for delegates on the go. The app is also eco-friendly and in keeping with technology of the day.

We hope that the Convention will enable the government to continue our engagement with Overseas Indian Community, address some issues which pertain to them, take on board their suggestions and feedback. We will also celebrate at PBD, the achievements of the Indian diaspora and take pride in their success. With this I would conclude my opening remarks, if you have any questions I will be happy to take them. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: I would like to thank Secretary, OIA, for giving this comprehensive briefing on the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. I now turn to our representative from the Government of Karnataka Shri Gaurav Gupta, a senior IAS officer, to brief you on the Karnataka specific aspects of the PBD.

Representative of Karnataka Govt. Shri Gaurav Gupta: Good afternoon and happy New Year to all of you. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention organized by Ministry of External Affairs as a flagship event to connect India to the vast diaspora is being organized 7 - 9th January every year and this time Bengaluru has been chosen as the venue and Karnataka is the host state.

The main events related to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas are, 7th January, the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, with participation of young Indian origin youth. 8th January, the inauguration of PBD by Hon’ble Prime Minister, session with Chief Ministers of various states and the other plenary sessions and 9th there will four plenary sessions and conferment of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards.

Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre has been finalized as the venue for conducting the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. This venue has been visited a number of times. There has been an MoU which has been signed between the Ministry of External Affairs and Government of Karnataka. As part of this, it is decided that the cost of hiring the venue is borne by the State government, the preparatory work and additional infrastructure at event venue is being taken up by the event manager appointed and paid for by Ministry of External Affairs.

Other responsibilities specified in the MoUs are being carried out by the State Government. In particular, issues of media, publicity and the outdoor branding etc. are being taken up by the State Government on the basis of creatives being provided by Ministry of External Affairs. State Government has also provided for budgetary support towards the venue cost, advertisement & media, cultural programs, food, transportation, accommodation etc. and Government has released the necessary funds for this purpose.

Hon’ble Minister for Large and Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka has held several meetings, seven meetings to be precise, with the senior officers of all departments concerned. The Ministry of External Affairs has also been present through its representatives in these meetings and beside that there are various committees that have been constituted for successful organizing of Pravaasi Bharatiya Divas. This includes Coordination committee under the chairmanship of far Hon’ble Minister, Monitoring committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka and sub-committees are chaired by Additional Chief Secretaries to the Government.

The State Government is also organizing two sessions and their responsibility has been given to us. 7th January session to showcase start-up ecosystems in Karnataka which is titled "Fuelling Growth Through Disruptive Innovations,” knowing fully well that Karnataka and Bangalore are the start-up centers for India. So "Fuelling Growth Through Disruptive Innovation” is being organized by the Department of Information Technology, Bio-technology and Science & Technology.

Another session will showcase investment opportunities in Karnataka which is titled "Innovate, Invent and Invest in Karnataka.” We all know that Karnataka is one of the major recipient states for foreign direct investments and we look forward to engaging the diaspora for investments and investment opportunities in the State of Karnataka.

Karnataka Government will also be arranging cultural programs on 7th January which will be choreographed and presented by the Department of Culture. This will be followed by dinner for the Yuva Pravasi Bharatiya Divas delegates, again hosted by the State Government. We are also providing for university students participation in the Youth Pravasi Divas programs on the 7th of January.

On the 9th, lunch is also being hosted by the State Government. State Government is also organizing industrial visits on 7th and 10th January. These industrial visits are to various locations of interest, I will specifically mention visit to Information Technology Park Ltd in Whitefield organized by Department of Information Technology and Biotechnology, visit to IAMAI Mobile accelerator NASSCOM 10k start-up warehouse, NASSCOM-IoT Centre of Excellence in Diamond district Domlur organized by Department of Information Technology and visit to the Electronics City Association and Bangalore Bio-innovation Centre Bangalore organized by Department of Biotechnology, Government of Karnataka. And also the fourth visit to High-tech Defence and Aerospace Park Devanahalli. This will be organized by the Karnataka Industries Department.

We are also organizing a number of sightseeing tours which are being organized by the Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, which includes day-sightseeing tours around Bangalore. Mysore, Kabini and such other places by Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation on payment basis. I would also like to mention that the State Government has been allocated one thousand square meters of exhibition space at the PBD Exhibition for showcasing the policies, and progress of State Government and public sector undertakings.

The design and execution of this Karnataka pavilion is also being taken up by us. We also are organizing the media & publicity through newspapers, hoardings, airport hoardings, bus shelters and bus branding and through skywalks, gantries and metro pillars etc. Newspaper advertisements will also be taken up on 8th and 9th January by the State government on the basis of the list forwarded by Government of India.

We are organizing a number of liaison officers for assisting the guests and also arranging for protocol. The list of speakers, the MPs of Parliamentary Committees and External Affairs, Chief Ministers of 9 states, Chief Guest and Special guest for Youth Pravasi Divas who are invited and this list of liaison officers has been shared and we have also held one session to brief them about the arrangements required.

Shuttle services are also being provided between the city and the Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre, the venue is about the 15 to 20 km away on the Tumkur road and the commute time will be typically about one hour.

As regards to security, a lot of effort has gone into this. Traffic management plan and security plan for the participating dignitaries has been prepared by the Home Department. Additional CCTV cameras and baggage scanners sought by the police department are being arranged and regarding parking space outside the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre and across the National Highway 4 on Tumkur road have been blocked. The NHAI has been asked and they have agreed to remove the median opposite the venue on the event day so that we can have smooth flow of traffic.

Toll free exclusively lanes for movement of PBD delegates during the event days has been arranged. Fire and emergency services are in place. The work of asphalting of four helipads and connecting road to BIEC has been initiated and this will be over soon. 2000 Souvenirs Mysore inlay work on Rosewood is being prepared by Kanaka Handicraft Development Corporation for presentation to the delegates. Karnataka tourist guidebooks are being arranged by the Department for insertion in the delegate kits.

City beautification works have been initiated by the Municipal Corporation of Bangalore i.e. Bangalore Development Authority and Horticulture Department. Action has been initiated for setting up the dispensary & emergency health services in the venue premises. Disaster management plan, a detailed disaster management plan is in place and also there have been special permissions issued by the Commercial Tax Department for transport of goods to and from the venue for the exhibition participants.

Temporary TIN numbers for exhibition participants who wish to sell items is also being arranged. Facilitation desk for dignitaries and delegates is arranged in the airport for coordination between the logistics partner of MEA and the International airport in Bangalore. There are other works which are relating to infrastructure in the city, a road over-bridge near the venue has been completed, uninterrupted power supply is being provided and arrangements have also been made for issue of passes for the registered delegates in consultation with MEA. MEA is printing the passes and the distribution will be taken care of by us. We were providing a center for this purpose. The details of several other programs are with me and as and when required I will share with you. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Thank you Gaurav for that very comprehensive briefing on the tremendous arrangements that the Government of Karnataka has made to ensure a very successful Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the 14th edition. The floor is now open for questions but before that I would like to tell you that the entire program of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has been uploaded on the website. You can have a look.

The media by the way, let me tell you is permitted to attend each and every session. There are no sessions where the media has been kept out, so you are all part of each and every session. The details of all the sessions are now available on the website. If you look in the media advisories, you will see the detailed program of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas including the details of the sessions and the participants. The floor is now open for questions. Before you ask a question please also introduce yourself and your organization.

Question from India Today: My question is to Mr. Gupta and Vikas you can add to it. Just earlier this afternoon we have been reporting about some shocking visuals from Bengaluru from MG Road of mass molestation of women, incidents involving groping on New Year's eve. Does it act as an embarrassing curtain raiser to an event where you will be talking about start-up ecosystems and tourism investment opportunities?

Representative of Karnataka Govt. Shri Gaurav Gupta: I think the same reports also carry the fact that Bangalore is one of the safest city to be in, particularly for the ladies. And the kind of incidents which have been reported are still being probed by the city police. They happened on 31st night at midnight and the details of that are being ascertained. I'm sure that they have no connection whatsoever with what will go on on the 7th, 8th and 9th January and Bangalore continues to remain one of the safest cities for women and for start-ups and for any other youth around, and there is a lot of mingling between the youth in the finance sector, technology sector and also the innovation sector all throughout and that doesn't get affected by the incidents which have been reported which I already said are being investigated.

Question from Sakal Media Group: The question is to Mr. Mulay. Prime Minister has been going to various countries, meeting with the diaspora over the last two and half years and he has been appealing to them to come to India, invest in India. Do you have any figures of the FDI coming, especially from the NRIs all over the world?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: I will reply a bit differently. The whole focus of Prime Minister’s speeches has been conveying that in India we are busy creating a conducive environment for the investment and a number of steps in that direction have been taken. DIPP and Minister of Commerce Industry are in charge of investment. They along with the RBI maintain these figures.

But what I have to say is that a number of measures that have been introduced whether it is raising of the cap for various investments, opening up of infrastructure sectors including defence and Railways for foreign investment, these have gone down well. Along with that something like 155 countries now can avail what we call the e-tourist visa. A number of measures have simultaneously been taken to relax the Visa and passport requirements both domestically as well as for visiting visas and a number of such measures are also under consideration of the government.

This being the case, government essentially can create a conducive environment for investment, including for NRIs. So my personal belief is that large number of NRIs have been taking active interest and it is reflected in the country heads that are appointed in India. You go to cities like Pune and Bangalore, you have large number of NRIs and OCI cardholders now residing in India. And they are, because of the way we have incentivized them, very happy to come and stay in India. There is no restriction on the length of their stay for example of the OCI card holders. PIO cards are also now being converted into OCI card, what it essentially would mean is the same facilities of OCI cards will also be available henceforth to the PIO card holders. So these are the steps. I can confess that I don't have the actual figures because these are not maintained by us.

Question from Deepika Malayalam Daily: There were certain decisions like a special university for the children of the NRIs and PIOs and an investment window was offered later. Are these things really there or completely dropped?

Jt. Secretary (OIA) Mrs. Vani Rao: Before I respond, the Secretary was right earlier. The last PBD Convention i.e. 13th one was actually in January 2015. So my apologies for that. We had mooted a proposal for setting up a university for children of NRIs, that was some years ago. As the process was ongoing, we came across several hurdles including legal and regulatory challenges and in the process of inter-ministerial consultations we also came across some practical problems that would come up in setting up such a university, so we have actually dropped that proposal formally. It is no longer in existence.

I think you mean by investment window, the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre. That was an organization that was set up by the erstwhile Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and after the merger of the two ministries, there has been some reallocation of work that pertains to investment. The investment functions pertaining to Overseas Indians, they have now shifted to DIPP. So DIPP which has also set up Invest India will also promote investments by Overseas Indians. That mandate no longer exists with the Ministry of External Affairs. So the body Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre is no longer active.

Question from PTI: Is the government planning to in fact use the platform of our PBD to highlight various reform initiatives that the government has taken in the last two and half years to woo investments from abroad? Like the GST, we have already passed the bill. So we are doing lot of initiatives for boosting investments in India and bringing investment from abroad. Second question is that as you have already mentioned that government has decided to host an outcome driven PBD so are you also going to come out with the outcome of the PBD 2017 at the end of the convention?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Good questions. We will be displaying, in the exhibition area and I'm very happy to tell you that our entire exhibition area has been booked. There will be a corporate sector and there will be a special section, a zone that will be highlighting Government of India's flagship projects, - what we've been doing currently, what the government is right now doing whether it is Make in India, or Swachh Bharat.

Then Ministry of External Affairs own schemes which focus specifically on NRIs and OCIs will be displayed and the various schemes, for example, that we run for the Gulf workers from India, those will also be explained. Because government is running a number of schemes, in fact, just to add what Vani said earlier, after the merger all the existing schemes were reviewed and revamped under the guidance of EAM. And that being the case, some of those that have been revamped will be showcased at Bangalore.

Now to your second question was about the outcome. What we have done in fact is an entire hundred percent outcome oriented approach to the issues of NRIs - OCIs i.e. Overseas Indians as a whole and in that context the revised PBD format, while the convention will be held once in two years, PBD is an ongoing process. So every month, for the last 10 months we have had one focused brainstorming under the chairmanship of EAM and these 10 sessions that have been held, whatever action has been taken, whatever recommendations have been made, these will be presented to the entire plenary in Bengaluru and thereafter a direct engagement with the larger diaspora will be held. Those will be then added and forwarded to the concerned department of the government for further consideration. So in my view there can't be a better way of inclusive approach to policy-making than this.

Question from Telegraph: My question is for Secretary Mulay and for Additional Secretary (XP). One, last year when the EAM had held the smaller version of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, members of Indian community from some Girmitiya countries have raised concerns about the fact that the new OCI card while it allows members of three or four generations, it doesn't go back further and that they felt was disadvantageous to them and EAM had mentioned that it would be looked at. Has there been any progress on that? And secondly, also to do with the diaspora, are we planning to invite representatives from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including Gilgit Baltistan?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: First, the OCI card to the Girmitiya countries who go beyond the fourth generation. The Government's attention has been drawn on this and so far as Mauritius is concerned, where the largest number of such Girmitiya members of community stay, we have launched a combined delegation which was led by me and had representatives of all the concerned departments and we have made a recommendation. That recommendation is, once that is done, we will perhaps undertake similar exercise because we have define exactly how do we decide, to give or not give? So those parameters have been recommended to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The second question i.e. on the Baltistan. Let me just make, since I am not a specialist, very clear this thing that PBD essentially is an open event and you know the categories that are included. Wherever, whatever is the Indian Territory, they can seek the registration through the portal and it will be examined as per the established process. Whosoever is an NRI or a PIO, he applied in that category and they are here or not here. Beyond that I don’t think I need to say anything else.

Question from Rajya Sabha TV: What is the basis of the awards that is being given to the NRIs and PIOs?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: We have a committee. The committee is of eminent persons and there are a number of areas, whether it is community service, distinguished achievements in their respective areas either in India are in their respective fields, extraordinary contribution to the world etc. and then the Jury Committee is headed by the Hon’ble Vice President, Principal Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and few others are the members of this committee and depending on the requirement as many meetings are required to take place, those are taking place and then the selection is made and the recommendation is then sent to the authorities.

Question from Economic Times: Both NRIs and even to an extent PIOs have lot of concerns regarding the demonetization. So would you be addressing these questions in a special session, or you expecting a lot of discussion on this issue?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Demonetization per se is not part of any panel’s discussion. The issue of demonetization and certain inconveniences faced by Overseas Indian Community have been taken into account and we have corresponded with Finance Ministry and RBI and as you must have seen there have been certain announcements which have been made by the government to this effect.

Question from News Nation: Sir kisi Baloch ne kya registration apni taraf se kiya hai participate karne ke liye, Gilgistan ya Balochistan se koi ho?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Not noticed any such thing.

Question from The Hindu: Today the Qatar Supreme Court has sentenced two Indians to death. In context of what you are saying that the Qatar will be sending one of the largest contingents in this convention. Do you think you will acquire some set of a handle also in such cases in future?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: If you are following Hon’ble External Affairs Minister, she has been personally involved in providing relief to the distressed Indians worldwide and that is the kind of cue for all of us. All of us in the Ministry of External Affairs are extremely concerned whenever such incidents happen or anybody is in distress, an immediate action is taken and as a result actually thousands of people have been rescued or brought back or have been given relief locally. Many people have got pardoned because of the efforts of government. So this is an ongoing effort and we have to always respect the local law and then work through the local governments and authorities and it’s not always as simple as one thinks when one reads the news in India.

Question from Samachar Post: The only thing that I want to know is this, as 4000 delegates are coming, who is bearing all the expenses? Is it the State Government or MEA is also involved and what is the per person cost?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: I'm happy to say that most of the delegates will be bearing their own expenditure. Government has of course invited panelists, those who will be on the dais and participating in the deliberations. We also have invited the consultative committee members of MEA and the Raj Bhasha committee members of MEA who are Members of Parliament, those have been invited. So a very few categories of invitees, rest people pay for themselves.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: There is a registration fee also. The government of Karnataka is making a number of arrangements on their own cost also which Mr. Gaurav has already briefed you about.

Question from Navbharat Times: Kya Bharat Sarkar ki taraf se koi nirdesh miley hain ki agar koi Gilgit-Baltistan se koi apply karta hai toh us par udaarata poorvak vichaar kiya jaye?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Is tarah ki khaas jaankari hamare pass koi nahi hai. Jaise ki maine kaha ki jo Bharat ke nivasi hain woh Bharat ke nivasi ke swarup mein aayenge, joh nahin hain, woh anivasi Bharatiyon ke ya Overseas Indians ke swarup mein aayenge.

Question from Sansar: Jaise ke ye NRIs aur PIOs hain hum in logon ka bahut khayal rakhte hain, waise hi ek doosari community hai jiske liye humne February mein bhi sammelan kiya tha, ye apne Roma Indians. Humne aaj tak kabhi Roma Indian ko, chunki woh Bharat se judna chahte hain, PBD mein unki sahbhagita nahi dikhai padti hai. Is par kuchh vichar ho raha hai, aur ab tak kyon nahi hua?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Is waqt hamare pass aisi koi jaankari nahi hai ki unhone request kiya hai ya aana chahte hain.

Question Contd. : Videsh Mantralay ne hi Roma Indians ka sammelan kiya tha February mein.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Humne woh conference ki thi, uske baare mein humne uske baad vistrat jaankari bhi di thi. Usmein kai tarah ke prashn hain. Woh basically Bharat ke saath judna chahte hain, leking usmein citizenship issues involved hain. Naagrikta unki kis tarah ki hai, kya un sabko hum NRI ya PIO ka darza de sakte hain? To us vishay par humein abhi aur adhik jaankari chahiye, us par adhik Prakash daalne ki aavashyakta hai. Committees bithai gai hain jo un sab pahluon par gahraai mein jayengi aur fir ek recommendation degi.

Question from Punch: Ye 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas hai. In 14 salon mein kya MEA ke pass NRI’s ki koi aisi soochi hain jinhone Bharat mein nivesh kiya ho?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Jaise ki pahle bhi bataya hai maine, ye soochi ab hum nahin maintain karte hain. Lekin hum abhi is koshish mein hain ki Pravasi Bharatiya jitne bhi hain videsh mein, un sab ki soochi banai jaye. Iske liye alag se portal par kaam kiya ja raha hai. Uske alawa aap jaante hain ki videsh mein jo Bhartiya vidyarthi hain, unke panjikaran ke liye bhi ek alag se portal jaari kiya gaya hai aur uske upar ab registration shuru ho gai hai.

Question from Deepika Malayalam Daily: This is regarding the special issues faced by the NRIs in Gulf areas. These people are facing so many issued related to their job, job-security, social security and all One more special thing is that one Father Tom, who is an NRI, who was abducted in Yemen is still in the custody of the abductors and it is almost ten months. Is there any progress, anything can be done?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: On Father Tom, I have already put out a statement. Basically, we are in touch with the authorities in Saudi Arabia as well as the local authorities in Yemen and all efforts continue to be made to secure his early release.

Question from Manorama News: You told that only eight Chief Ministers are participating, so why is it so?

Secretary (CPV & OIA), Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Chief Ministers have their own convenience. An open invitation has been sent to all the Chief Ministers inviting them. If they are invited, they will invariably be participating in their own session, however many states, we have not mentioned that to you, but many states are sending other important ministers. They might not have a speaking slot but they will be present there.

Many states will also be participating in the exhibitions to display their wares or crafts and handicrafts etc. So it’s a kind of an open thing. It is not only the Government of India or Government of Karnataka event it's an India event, that India Welcomes all the diaspora and these are opportunities for the engagement that are being provided.

Question: Could you tell us something more about the committee that you mentioned on Roma, what are they looking at and who is heading it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: As I said, I do not have full details but I do know at the time this was held, they had come up with a number of recommendations. Those recommendations needed further examination in terms of the legal aspects, constitutional aspects and various other aspects and those aspects were to be examined and then the government was to take a formal position on that. That was is the position.

Question: (…..Inaudible……..)
Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:
Look that has nothing to do with the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. As I said, I'm waiting for a report from our Ambassador there. Two Indians were involved, one was a gentleman Mr. Rizvi and one was a lady, Ms. Khushi Shah. It is very unfortunate that they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obviously, the Ambassador is doing everything to facilitate the repatriation of the bodies. We are facilitating the issue of visas to the family members who want to go there to personally collect the bodies and things like that. They were tourists, they were there in that nightclub at the wrong time as I said. They were not permanent residents of Turkey.

I think with that we have exhausted all the questions, so thank you all.

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