BENGALURU: At the 14th Pravasi Bharati Divas — said to be the largest gathering of Indians living abroad — at India’s IT hub Bengaluru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today thanked the disapora for supporting the government’s move against black money. This year, the focus of the meet is on the role of youth in transforming society. Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa is the chief guest of the meet. The session is also being attended by Suriname Vice President Michael Ashwin Adhin, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh.
In his address, delivered in English and Hindi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the delegates, said, “corruption and black money have been corroding our system from within. India needed to take a stand and so we have.” PM Modi also said all holders of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards should convert them to OCI (Overseas Indian Citizens) Cards. “We have extended the deadline for conversions from December 31, 2016, to June 30, 2017, without any penalty,” he added. Addressing the delegates, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said, “Portugal is an open country, we will receive you with open arms if you consider it as your location for investment, education and living”. The convention started with the ‘Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’, which was inaugurated as part of this year’s meet to connect with the new generation growing up across the world. It had plenary sessions on problems faced by Indian students abroad, problems faced by NRI students in India, and startups and innovation which have a social impact in India. Speaking at the event, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said the common thread that binds the Indian dispora together is the enduring connect with a country whose history dates back to five millennia, whose contemporary reality takes them on an incredible journey and whose future offers them endless possibilities. Recalling that the 2015 Youth PBD was about 3Cs, connect, celebrate and contribute, he said it will be “4Ts” this year – “Talent, Technology, Training and Teamwork,” he said. Mr Goel called on the youth to give suggestions on creating infrastructure to channelise their force. He also assured of all possible assistance from his Ministry for those willing to take up social projects in any part of the country. About 300-400 overseas Indian youth are participating in the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, including nearly 150 PIOs who are visiting India for the Know India programme. The convention, which started with the youth event on Saturday, will continue till Monday.