EDISON, NJ – This year, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) celebrations will be held from January 21 to 23, 2019, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, with the theme of ‘The role of the Indian diaspora in building a New India.’
To promote the PBD, Swati Singh, India’s Minister of State for NRI, Flood Control, Agriculture Import, Agriculture Marketing, Agriculture Foreign Trade and Uttar Pradesh state minister in the Ministry of Women Welfare, Family Welfare, Maternity and Child Welfare, addressed a roomful of Indian Americans on July 19 at TV Asia Studio, in Edison, New Jersey.
Along with Singh, those who attended the kick-off event included S.P. Goyal, the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh; Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Joint Secretary of Overseas Indian Affairs of MEA; Deepak Agarwal, Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi; Arun Kumar, Special Secretary to the NRI Department of the Government of Uttar Pradesh; Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General of India in New York; Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, founder and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media; Padma Shri H.R. Shah of TV Asia; Ramesh Patel, Chairman of FIA; and Srujal Parikh, President of FIA.
In the past years, PBD was typically celebrated on January 9 every year as it is that very same day in 1915 when Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.
Therefore, in 2003, the first PBD was held in New Delhi, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, to strengthen the ties between NRIs and India as it allows them to reconnect to their roots while celebrating their achievements and contributions.
It also provides as a platform for Indians of one nation to network with Indians of another while some are honored for their contributions and achievements with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award.
“It is an honor and a pleasure to be here to talk about the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The Indian government has done an outstanding job this year as not only will the attendees get to see the beautiful city of Varanasi but they will also get to go to the Kumbh Mela and see the India Republic Day Parade. I encourage the second and third generation of Indian Americans to participate in this venture as one does not need an excuse to go to our motherland and explore our roots. In fact, it is the best way to combine a trip to India with such a wonderful, cultural and educational experience,” said Dr. Parikh, who has attended all of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations and has even been awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2006.
In her speech, Singh said that she is hoping to see the most participation of Indian Americans at PBD, from the New York-New Jersey area.
“We call our country the motherland and every mother wants their child to progress in life but every mother also wants to see their child and today, our motherland is calling upon all of you to visit her. A child can forget their mother but a mother never forgets her child and maybe that is why Mother India has sent me here to tell you all to come and visit her. You can see what level India has reached today. When you all came to the U.S. from India, there was no female lead and now you see me, a woman, here to call you home. We need you all to come home and see how it has changed,” Singh said.
This year, the PBD meet is being held later on in the month of January, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to invite NRIs to the Kumbh Mela as well as for the India Republic Day parade, on January 26.