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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government, reconnect them with their roots and celebrate their achievements and contributions. PBD is celebrated on January 9 as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa to lead Indiaâ€™s freedom struggle.
In 2015 the Government of India revised the format of PBD and re-energized its engagement with the Indian Diaspora to enable sustained and more substantive engagement. Following the review, the PBD Convention will be held once in two years in a city outside Delhi. In the intervening year, smaller, outcome-based PBD Conferences will be organized in New Delhi on issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora. It was decided that Indian Missions and Consulates will also celebrate PBD every year.
Through the first series of PBD Conferences which commenced in February 2016 the Government is proactively engaging with the Overseas Indians in an issue-based dialogue.
As a run up to PBD 2017, 10 PBD Conferences (panel discussions) have been held in 2016 on issues of importance to the Indian Diaspora. Domain experts from the Diaspora, and stakeholders and policy makers based in India have been invited for day-long deliberations on various topics. Their recommendations have been submitted to the Government of India for consideration. At the 14th PBD Convention in January 2017, each PBD Conference will present their recommendations, and the Action Taken Report to PBD delegates for their suggestions and comments.
The 14th PBD Convention January 2017:
PBD 2017 which will focus on the theme â€œRedefining engagement with the Indian Diasporaâ€ will
Background for Plenary Session IV (i)
This session on â€œLeveraging Social Media for Diaspora Connectâ€ aims at discussing the role of Social Media in connecting with Indian Diaspora. The Indian diaspora has always maintained a link with the motherland. Today, digital technologies have democratised information, ensuring that India is only a click away. Social media is now part of Indian identity for Indians abroad. In recent times, social media has turned out to be tremendous force multipliers for the Government to reach out and establish a human connect with the vast number of Indians living, working or travelling abroad.
Governments across the world have also recognized the potential of this tool to communicate information about their policies and to receive feedback on strategies. The present Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clear push towards the use of social media and other digital tools to remain engaged with the public.
The Ministry of External Affairs has been a pioneer in adapting digital tools. Starting in 2010, the Ministryâ€™s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, G+, SoundCloud, Flickr have a collective followership exceeding 4.5 million and weekly impressions (views, profile visits, etc) are usually five times the followership. External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj is testimony to the extent that these disruptive communication technologies can be used to connect and practice diplomacy with a human face.
Under the PBD 2016 Conference in New Delhi experts from the diaspora, and policy makers based in India discussed on 25th October 2016 on â€œLeveraging Social Media for Diaspora Connect.â€
Chair of the session, MoS General (Retd.) VK Singh welcomed the participants and mentioned how the Missions had become responsive in dealing with the Diaspora using the power social media. MEA had not only used social media effectively for distress and crisis management but also for creating awareness about the flagship programmes of the Government. He mentioned that it was important to understand the advantages as well as the pitfalls of social media and invited recommendations on how social media technology could be leveraged further for the benefit of the diaspora.
Some important recommendations made by the participants were:
The recommendations of the PBD Conference were submitted for consideration and follow up.
The Plenary Session in PBD 2017 will discuss the above recommendations, including the best ways to connect Diaspora through Social Media and steps already taken by the Ministry of External Affairs. The session proposes to focus on key priority of the Government towards bringing latest tools and technologies that can be employed by the Ministry and Missions to connect with the diaspora. It will deliberate on how diaspora and Missions may come together through social media to fully utilize the commercial and business opportunities available in other countries and facilitating linkages with Indian business houses and Chambers of Commerce.
Some of the important issues for discussion in the session include: