Anurag Bhushan (left), MEA Joint Secretary for Overseas Indian Affairs - who is also a former Consul General of India in Dubai - with Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Dubai: A large group of Indian expats from the UAE are set to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention 2023, a flagship event of the government of India to connect with the overseas Indian diaspora, which will take place in person after a gap of four years.

This was revealed at a gathering of heads of Indian expat community groups with a top diplomat of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which organises the PBD in Dubai, on Sunday.

Anurag Bhushan, MEA Joint Secretary for Overseas Indian Affairs, who is also a former Consul General of India in Dubai, met the senior community members to ensure the active participation of the massive Indian expat community in the UAE at the 17th PBD.

Anurag Bhusan with Indian community leaders in Dubai
Bhushan (second from left) with the heads of Indian community groups in UAE Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

He said the first in-person PBD after four years will be held from January 8 to 10, 2023, at Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in collaboration with the state government of Madhya Pradesh.

“We are very happy that finally we are going to have a physical event again after four years,” said Bhushan, who also holds charge of the PBD at the MEA.

Held biennially, the last PBD was organised virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bhushan said the Indian diaspora, especially investors from across the world, were keen to attend the event which is considered the largest gathering of Indian investors. He said the government will also try to ensure the representation of the large population of Indian workers abroad.

While some community members raised the issue of high fees for registering for the event on its website, Bhushan said the government has tried to keep the fees reasonable and is also offering group discounts for members of expat community organisations.

“We have ensured that we give discounts to people who register early also… And then other costs such as transport and accommodation are also kept pretty reasonable. And the state government is working very hard to ensure that the stay of our Indian brethren is as comfortable as possible.”

Chartered flights

When the issue of limited flight connectivity from the UAE to Indore was raised, Bhushan said: “We are in touch with the Civil Aviation ministry. We are also in touch with other airlines. I think if there is a large enough number [of participants], we’ll be able to do something about the flights.”

Speaking later, Consul General of India in Dubai Dr Aman Puri said: “We will also be talking to the airlines for operating special charter flights for the same… And we will take full advantage of the direct connectivity we have between Dubai and Indore.”

He added that expat community groups had been looking forward to the event. “And we are absolutely certain that the largest delegation coming into the PBD will be from the UAE and various associations and the representatives have assured us that they would be encouraging their members to participate as a group, which will be very convenient for everyone.”

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Dr Puri pointed out that there is also the possibility of some of the business leaders travelling two days before the PBD for the Investment Summit.

“We are absolutely certain that a large delegation of entrepreneurs, business people, and other industry leaders and stakeholders will be there. As you’re all aware that with the signing of the CEPA [Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and India], the business relationship and the investment relationship between the UAE and India is on an upswing and we are at a historic inflection point in the relationship. So the participation of the Indian community at the PBD will truly reflect this very strong relationship between the two countries.”

Kamal Vachani, chairman of Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) for Dubai, said: “It is a big thing for us expatriates because after four years the Indian diaspora is looking forward to participating in the PBD in a very big way from the entire UAE and the Middle East. And I would like to be there along with the UAE delegation and GOPIO members.”

Event details

The theme of PBD Convention 2023 is ‘Diaspora: Reliable partners for India’s progress in Amrit Kaal’. The PBD Convention 2023 will be inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 9, 2023.

The Youth PBD will be held on January 8, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. On January 10, Indian President Droupadi Murmu will confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards and preside over the Valedictory Session.