Gandhinagar: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel launched the 13th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Indian diaspora day) in Gandhinagar on Wednesday urging the youth gathered here for the three-day convention to contribute towards India’s transformation.

Speaking at the inaugural event, Swaraj said: “Come, connect, celebrate and contribute towards the momentous transformation that is taking place in the country.”

“Over the next few years, foreign investment will be the corner stone of the country’s progress. We want you, the young Pravasis (expats), to contribute to the development of India and participate in the vision that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has for the country’s future. The government is working in mission mode, you can contribute and become a partner,” India’s foreign minister said.

Making a pitch for the flagship programmes of the Modi government, Swaraj said: “[The] Make in India initiative, Jan Dhan Yojana, Clean Ganga Campaign, Swachch Bharat Abhiyan (clean India campaign) promise big changes in the landscape, but needs your support. The government has taken multiple steps to simplify procedures, rationalise rules and increased use of technology. Efforts are on to identify laws which need to be repealed. The focus is clearly on infrastructure and financing of infrastructure,” the minister said, promising that the government is committed to the highest standards of transparency and integrity.

Indian prime minister will formally inaugurate the three-day event on Thursday at a function in which about 4000 Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIOs) are participating. He is expected to make announcements of special packages and visa relations for NRIs and PIOs.

Swaraj and Patel also inaugurated a permanent exhibition, “Salt Mound” on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, at the venue of the congregation ‘Mahatma Mandir’. This edition of the annual congregation of the Indian diaspora is coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa in 1915, to lead the country towards attaining freedom.

The second day of the function will be marked with a programme on cultural diversity in India.

Also, a play on the life of Gandhi and his role in the Independence Movement will be screened at Sabarmati River front on the last day.

Ten states are participating in the event. The respective states have put up exhibitions and pavilions to attract and interact with the NRIS and PIOs. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will address the convention on January 9 to woo investors to invest in the economic progress of India’s most populous state. another participating state Bihar, has put up a hoarding all over the venue describing it as the “fastest growing” state in the country.

Charu Mathur, chief executive officer, Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), told Gulf News, “Indians outside want to experience the transformation that the country is undergoing first hand and would certainly like to contribute towards India’s development.

“This year, we are witnessing the highest participation ever, with huge interest from Indians living in the United Kingdom, United States and the Gulf countries.

OIFC is a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which facilitates economic and intellectual engagement of the Indian diaspora with their mother country.