Pravasi Bharatiya Divas attendance dips

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas attendance dips

Govt. had changed the dates for the 2019 edition to coincide with Kumbh Mela

The government has termed the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), that ended on Wednesday “the large and grandest of the PBDs held so far.”

However, numbers given by officials for 2019 appear to be below the figures issued by the government for the last PBD gathering in 2017.

Special arrangements

The numbers dropped despite special arrangements being made for the delegates to travel to Allahabad and Delhi this year; even the date of the PBD was changed to attract larger numbers to the convention.

“We received registrations from 7,228 delegates from about 90 countries this year, which is a very big number, of which about 3,000 will travel to the Kumbh in Allahabad and to Delhi for the Republic Day parade,” said Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Retd.) V.K. Singh on Wednesday.

“This has been an unusual year when we shifted the date of the PBD [from January 7-9] because we received a lot of demands from abroad that since the Kumbh was being held this year, delegates wanted to come later,” he explained.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Secretary CPV & OIA, had added that of the 7,228 registrations, the number of delegates who had attended the convention was “close to 5,000” and was “breaking all records of the past.”

Bengaluru meeting

However, according to the official figures given by the MEA at the 14th convention in 2017, when the PBD was held in Bengaluru, the previous conference had attracted as many as “8,000 delegates”.

“The 14th ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ was inaugurated in the presence of the Prime Minister of India as well as the chief guest, the Prime Minister of Portugal. The event was held in the presence of 8,000 delegates, making it the largest ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ ever,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said at a press conference on January 8, 2017.

According to the MEA website ( the PBD in Gandhinagar in 2015 had also seen the “enthusiastic participation of nearly 5000 delegates from different heterogeneous and diverse overseas Indian community spread across the globe and India.”

‘Local’ delegates

MEA officials told The Hindu that the numbers of those who attended the PBD included many who had not registered as well, which could explain the discrepancy in numbers. They also explained that previous years had included the figures of “local” or Indian delegates. However, despite specific requests from The Hindu had not furnished a break-up of the figures until Thursday.

It is also unclear why Indians based in India would be included as delegates at a conference meant for the diaspora.

Regardless of the exact figure, the numbers are a very small fraction of the 31 million strong Indian diaspora worldwide. At previous PBD-related events, officials have conducted surveys to try and increase the numbers of those attending the conference, which had led to the decision to shift the dates of the conference for the first time to coincide with the Kumbh and the Republic Day Parade.

The shift in dates had raised eyebrows as it broke from the tradition of holding the PBD conference on the day that Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa (January 9, 1915), and was seen as particularly unusual given that this is the 150th birth anniversary year of the Mahatma.

Officials said the next convention of the PBD in in 2021 would likely revert to the normal dates of January 7-9.

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