The Indian High Commission in Wellington celebrated the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2023 at its premises on January 9.
The program synchronized with the official three-day function conducted by the Government of India in Indore in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh from January 8.
The theme this year is “Diaspora: Reliable Partners for India’s Progress in Amrit Kaal.”
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated every two years to honour the achievements and contributions made by the Indian diaspora spread across the world.
Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner of India to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan said the day marked the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa 108 years ago. It is also a celebration of the diaspora’s link to India.
The convention held in Indore (labelled the cleanest city in India) started with the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, among others, presiding over the occasion.
“I am particularly happy that a lot of young members are in the audience today, because we feel that the younger generation bears the burden of carrying forward our deep bonds and links,” High Commissioner Bhushan added.
The high commissioner observed that “the theme of this year’s convention stems from the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi ji’s vision for an Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India by 2047, and the role and active participation of the diaspora in this journey in the coming years.”
The high commissioner commended the speech delivered by the New Zealand diaspora youth representative Simran Kaur at the event in Indore.
Over 3,500 diaspora members drawn from more than 70 countries are taking part in the Indore convention, “which is being held in the physical mode after four years.” President of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali was the chief guest, with world leaders, including from Australia , Surinam and Mauritius, in attendance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release a postal stamp dedicated to safe and legal migration for diaspora members, High Commissioner Bhushan informed the gathering.
The high commissioner applauded the diaspora for its contribution and accomplishments.
“The Indian diaspora of over 32 million people, in various parts of the world, represents the rich cultural diversity of India,” she said.
High Commissioner Bhushan added: “Wherever they have gone, they [diaspora] have propagated Indian culture, language, ethos, philosophy and values. They have done so, not only within the family, but with their neigbours, in schools, colleges and the workplace. It is not surprising that Indian festivals, such as Diwali and Holi, as well as Bollywood movies, Indian cuisine and dresses have become popular among other nationalities.”
The high commissioner said she was heartened to see a number of [local] dignitaries wearing Indian clothes at diaspora festivals and events.
High Commissioner Bhushan referenced the achievers from the diaspora, such as Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan in New Zealand, as well as others in all walks of life around the world.
In closing, High Commissioner Bhushan noted that “India is making its presence felt on the world stage as a country which cares about world issues. India is holding the presidency of the G-20 and has also launched the Voice of the Global South Summit , which will be held on the digital platform on January 12 and 13.”
Over 120 countries from the Global South will take part in the summit.
Up next was former Governor General of New Zealand Anand Satyanand, a recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, an award bestowed on leading lights of the diaspora worldwide.
Past awardees include Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Honorary Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon, Ex-MP Kanwaljit Bakshi and former Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner.
Satyanand recalled the privilege of receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas award in New Delhi on 9 January 2011, while he was the Governor General of New Zealand. He applauded “prominent Wellingtonian” Naginbai Patel whose efforts led to the Indian High Commission “taking the initiative to place a statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the railway station.” Thus, Wellington joined a number of world capitals “where there is a reference to the Mahatma and his unique contribution.”
Earlier, Second Secretary Durga Dass welcomed the gathering, while Second Secretary (Consular) Mukesh Ghiya alerted the audience to the revised fee structure for consular services provided by the high commission, which are available for viewing on the high commission website.
The revised fees are applicable with effect from 11 January 2023.
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