Pravasi Bharatiya Divas — Non-Resident Indian Day — is celebrated in India on January 9 each year to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay on January 9, 1915.
The occasion is marked by special programmes to recognise the contributions of non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin of exceptional merit and provide a forum to discuss issues and concerns of people of the diaspora. The event has been organised every year since 2003. This year the Government of India decided to celebrate the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas henceforth in every embassy/high commission.
Indian embassy in Baghdad invited us for celebration of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The second secretary RS Virdi also called to invite me besides the embassy sending invitations through email. We reached the embassy before 12:00 noon. The main function was held at New Delhi from 3:00 pm (Indian Standard Time) and it was live streamed via internet so that Indian diaspora can see it from everywhere. We all sat in the hall in the residence of the Indian ambassador and were having general discussions with the ambassador George Raju. He has recently joined the Baghdad embassy. It was our first meeting with him. A projector and screen was placed for viewing live streaming of the function, which started at 12:30 pm (Baghdad time).
Gen VK Singh, MOS gave the introductory speech, which was followed by a speech by the guest speaker Priti Patel, Britain’s minister for employment and Prime Minister David Cameron’s Indian diaspora champion. External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj delivered the keynote address. Ministry of External Affairs also arranged an interactive question & answer session through video conferencing with missions in London, Mauritius, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
While we were listening to the speeches we were served with drinks along with nuts, potato chips, samosas and paneer pakoras. The Indian ambassador arranged a sumptuous home-cooked Indian lunch for us — Pulao, Dal, Gobi (Cauliflower) ki subzi, Chicken curry besides salad and raita. In desert, they served us cake. We had tea over a nice chat before walking back to our residence.
Happy Pravasi Bharatiya Divas!
Image courtesy: Parag Singhal & Indian Embassy