GANDHINAGAR: Connect, Celebrate and Contribute –- this was the 3C mantra that resonated among young global Indians who gathered in Gandhinagar, Gujarat’s capital named after Mahatma Gandhi, in what External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called the celebration of the 25-million strong Indian diaspora and India’s soft power.
Hymn to youth Power
In a pioneering exercise, the annual gathering of overseas Indians called ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ kicked off on January 7 with a hymn to the power of youth and the first-ever youth PBD that provided a platform for young NRIS and PIOs to connect with their ancestral land and contribute their bit in the ongoing transformation of the motherland.
Enthusiasm was palpable among young expats who has come to the city that embodies the spirit of Gandhi, the exemplar pravasi, as they were reminded of the glory and the grandeur that was India and the unfolding miracle that is India.
Sushma Swaraj encapsulated the animating ethos of the PBD as she inaugurated the three-day diaspora fest on a bright resplendent morning on January 7. This year around, the PBD is special as it celebrates the centenary of the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India as the liberator of the nation.
“This Youth Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas is not just about match-making, it is also about discovering your roots, and learning about and appreciating your heritage. If I were to put it in a nutshell, this Youth PBD is about 3Cs,” she said presciently.
In a country where over 50 per cent of the population is below 25, building bridges between the Indian youth and their diasporic counterparts is the primary driver of youth PBD. “This is also the platform for you to connect with the new generation of Indians who are confident, aspirational and transcending the old boundaries of caste and class,” said Swaraj. The youth PBD will culminate in visits by young expats to meet their counterparts in four premier universities of Gujarat, including Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, DhirubhaiAmbani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Gujarat National Law University and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India.
Know and Recognise India
In the ‘Bharat ko Jano’ (Know India) session, the discussions focused on how to reconnect to the variegated civilizational heritage of India. As the focus was on both connection and celebration, the minister reminded young global Indians of multifarious achievements of the Indian genius that hark back millennia. The Bharat Ko Mano session was a full-throated hymn to the spirit of India. “Bharat ko Jano’ will tell you that zero and the decimal system were India’s gift to the world. The value of ‘Pi’ was first calculated by Budhayana in the sixth century. The world’s first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. The earliest school of medicine known to humans was Ayurveda which was consolidated by Charaka, the father of medicine, some 2,500 years ago.”
Coming down to modern times, the minister underlined that “the nation which gave the world the concept of zero, has also mastered the nuclear cycle, sent expeditions to Antarctica and even unmanned missions to the moon and Mars.”
Against the backdrop of India’s rising global profile and its economic prowess, making it the world’s largest economy in PPP, the minister reminded the young audience of the ineluctable reach of India’s soft power and called the ‘Pravasi’ the “image of India’s soft power.”
“India’s soft power has also been spreading around the world. Whether you have Californians doing yoga, Britishers taking to chicken tikka masala, Brazilians hooked to a TV serial set in India, or Egyptians dancing to Hindi film songs, they have all contributed to the image of the new India.”
Contribute: Make India
With so much going for them, the minister exhorted young global Indians to harness their talent and expertise in the project of making and remaking India into a self-confident empowered nation that will be a focal point of moderation and stability in a shifting world order. The expats can contribute by harnessing their restless energies in spurring the success of defining initiatives launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said. These include assorted but interlinked mission of national renewal like Clean India, Skill India, Digital India and Make in India.
“There are tremendous opportunities today for you to join us, especially in the fields of manufacturing, infrastructure development, education, health, skills development, science and technology, research and innovation, knowledge economy and youth development as part of our effort to realise India’s full potential.”
“So Global Indians come, Connect, Celebrate, Contribute and become a part of the momentous transformation taking place in the country to build Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat,” said the minister.
Over 25 million Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin live in around 130 countries across continents, and sends in nearly &70 billion in annual remittances. This year, over 4,000 overseas Indians have trooped to Gandhinagar for the annual conclave.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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