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Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (CPV & OIA) on Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (January 22, 2019)

January 23, 2019

Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Awaneesh Awasthi: I am so happy to see lot of our friends from Lucknow also and from all around. I would like to welcome Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Secretary CPV & OIA, I would like to welcome Shri Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson for MEA and I would of course like to welcome Manoj Mohapatra Ji, Jt. Secretary.

Main kewal itna kah sakta hoon ki MEA aur MEA ke margdarshan mein jo Uttar Pradesh Sarkar ne jo ye poora aayojan kiya hai wo nishchay hi abhootpoorv hoga aur mere khyaal se history hogi aur ye jo aaj aapne Pradhanmantri Ji ki speech suni hogi, aadarneey pradhanmantri Mauritius ki speech suni hogi aur hamare maananeey Mukhyamantri Ji ki speech suni hogi aur jo swagat External Affairs Minister ne kiya tha, nischay hi ye abhootpoorv sanyog hai ki Kashi jo kaha jaata hai ki ye jaankaari nahi ki kab se Kashi ki history hai, it is the oldest living city.

Kashi aur uske saath Kumbh aur Kumbh ke baare mein to aap sabko gyaan hai. Kumbh mei to hum bahut sara detailing kar bhi rahe hain aur bahut saari cheezein Kumbh mein kar rahe hain. To Kumbh, Kashi, Republic Day aur Pravasi Bharatiya, ye aisa sundar sanyog hai ki aaj aadarneey pradhanmantri ji ne, bahar se jitne bhi log aaye hain unka dil kii gahraaiyon se, pradhanmantri ki haisiyat se, apne saansad hone ki haisiyat se unhone jo swagat kiya hai, unhone sab jo samman badhaya hai wo nischay hi something very great.

I just be very short in giving the opening lines. I would now request Secretary CPV & OIA to give a brief of all the sessions, to give a brief on the technical sessions, give a brief on what essentially is intent behind all of this. Sir has been a part of this system for very long and he would be able to give you the depths of what exactly needs to be done to take our country forward. With that I now request Secretary Mulay to give his remarks.

Secretary CPV & OIA, Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Thank you. Good evening and Namaskar. I am sure you have seen this particular place since morning and felt the whole environment here. I will give you some broad contours of how far we have come in so far this 15th PBD is concerned.

Number one, it could be easily termed as the largest and the grandest of the PBDs that have been held so far, undoubtedly. To support this I will quote the numbers, 7228 registrations and I would add that this is also the largest foreign participation. By foreign I mean those persons who have come as overseas delegates to this particular program.

Today you have seen the inaugural. This inaugural is again the largest inaugural so far. We used to be happy with foreign registrations if they were 700 or 800 or 1000. If we crossed 1000 we used to really feel joyous about it but foreign participation is close to 5000 in this particular PBD. So again I would say breaking all the records of the past.

Three in one, this is just as Awaneesh ji mentioned. This is Triveni so far as even the structure is concerned. You have the PBD, followed by Kumbh followed by Republic Day. And as Hon’ble External Affairs Minister said, this is not one day PBD, this is not two day PBD but it is a six day PBD if you include 21 and 26 as first and last day of events.

Besides this logistically this is most complex of the PBDs that we have held so far. Train transport has never been involved, never been part of our PBD in the past. Bus transport upto 200 buses has never been part of our PBD in the past. We have four trains between Prayagraj and Delhi and they will be called Special Pravasi Trains. This has never happened in the past so in that sense it is abhootpoorv.

Pahli baar is tarah ka ho raha hai ki ye chaar train jo hain pravasiyon ko lekar jaa rahi hain.

But more than that it also is showcasing to our overseas friends as to how India has traveled and what are the capacities that we have developed in this country in terms of even organizing events of this scale. And this is not only PBD even Kumbh is included and even the train journey included, we have been able to work out a fairly seamless arrangement of this entire thing.

We have also focused on the participation of youth because we really think that if we have to connect overseas Indians then it is youth really which has to be primarily connected. While the older generation looks towards the emotional connect, cultural connect, maybe what we call the Teerth-Darshan or visiting holy places irrespective of the religious beliefs. We have now been focusing as a part of that what is called ‘Bharat Ko Janiye’ program which is really KIP – Know India Program. And then Bharat Ko Janiye Quiz.

Last year we had 5000 participants, this year we have had 40000 participants and you have seen that today Prime Minister also honored them in the event. And this is also the 50th KIP participants also came and then 51st and 52nd, all three groups were present and we were able to connect them with the local youth because the idea was really not only interaction among the adults but also among the youth of both living within India and those who have come from overseas.

This has been, Youth Pravasi Divas, there in the past but we have tried to make it more focused this time and also their engagement is much more deeper. You have seen today’s events, we have had of course the inaugural and subsequently we have had two sessions.

If you would see two years back or prior to that the sessions used to be of general nature, how far we can help the pravasis, how we can assist them. But now the discussion has gone to entirely, I would say, a new level. Where the interaction is very very specific and focused.

For example it would have been difficult to conceive a theme like artificial intelligence and the role of Indian diaspora in making this happen in India. It would have been difficult to conceive, say, a session of cyber security and the role of Indian diaspora in giving India the capacity or the technological aspects. Waste management, Hon’ble Prime Minister has been focusing on Swachh Bharat but this is our own engagement with foreign resident participants whether PIO, OCI card holders or even NRIs living abroad because they have resources, they have technology and they have experience of doing this.

For the first time, in specific sectors, we have been able to get them engaged with India. So yesterday we had the role of young generation in building India, a very engrossing session and today we had two sessions, one on waste management and one of solar technology and participation of the diaspora in the same. And in both the sessions the enthusiasm that was there was very visible, people want to now contribute. They want to contribute through their experience, expertise, technological cooperation and where possible also investment.

So one sees a new enthusiasm, if I can describe it, among the diaspora because now they can see less of bureaucratic barriers. They see ease of doing business in India and they also see the transformation and the rate of transformation in India rather has picked up and the government is proactively engaging the diaspora.

Tomorrow we will be having four more sessions. And of course today evening program. There would be a well know danseuse and artist, Hema Malini Ji will be performing Ganga Avataran, the theme has also been chosen carefully so as to highlight Kashi being a place of Ganga, the theme has been identified as Ganga Avataran and I invite all of you to experience that particular dance drama program this evening.

Tomorrow we have four sessions lined up. The first one is Indian Diaspora’s Role In Capacity Building of Artificial Intelligence, which I mentioned just now. The second session at 10:30, Giving Back To India – Opportunities & Challenges. Third one is, you see the wording of this, Indian Community Organizations – Working For Indian Nationals In Distress Situations.

Government is doing a lot and some of the socio-cultural organizations abroad are also trying to do their best. But our effort is to see how best they can be empowered and we have worked out something called Indian Community Welfare Fund which even the community organizations can use but they can also generate internal resources to help people in distress situations.

Then we have the third session tomorrow, Developing Cyber Capacity In India with the help of Diaspora and the fourth one will be the valedictory session in the evening. We have Hon’ble President of India coming and he will be giving away the awards to the pravasis.

Please do participate in these, they are somewhat of technical nature but you will also come to know how Ministry of External Affairs is taking the lead, also taking on board the line ministries it is time to engage with because that is something that was earlier missing. Now ministry is working with the line ministries and taking them along to engage them with the diaspora. So this is also new phenomenon that we have brought in in our engagement.

I will pause here and I will be happy to handover the mic to our spokesperson.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you sir. Before I request Additional Chief Secretary to add to what Secretary CPV has said, few announcements and also information.

The speeches which have been made today by the Prime Minister and also by the External Affairs Minister, they are already available on our website if you are planning to do stories on the two speeches. The website address is www.mea.gov.in and that is one source of information.

Doosara jo hai, jitni bhi cheezein ho rahi hain, aaj aur kal jo huin aur kal jo hongi, jo mera twitter handle hain aur khaskar jo UP ke media hain unko main batana chaahunga, us par ham jaise hi event khatam ho raha hai, uske baare mein ek chhota synopsis uske upar daal rahe hain, jo speeches hain uska hum link bhi de rahe hain. To meri ye guzarish hai ki event ke baad aap usko access karein aur us information ko use karein apni story ke liye.

Agar iske alawa aapke pass koi sujhaav hai, koi suggestion to hamari team rahti hai media center mein, aap unko bata sakte hain. Par hamne ye deicide kiya hai ki jo thematic sessions hain uske upar ek write up, jaise aaj jo do sessions hue, aaj ke dono sessions ke write-ups hum aapko bhej denge.

It basically will be summing up discussions on each panel discussion.

Question: What is the twitter handle?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The twitter handle is MeaIndia, that is one twitter handle. The other twitter handle is PBD, so we are using both, PD handle also we have. So there are three or four twitter handles and they are loaded with lots of information. We have also done interviews with many participants who are visiting and those are uploaded as well. So I think it is a very good and useful source of information.

Jo hamara website hai aap usko dekhein, usmein jitni bhi cheezein hoti hain usko usi samay upload kar dete hain. Pradhanmantri ki jo bilateral meeting hui Mauritius ke pradhanmantri ke saath, uski press release humne already upload kar di hai. To isko aap dekhein, hamare twitter handle ko aap follow karein, kaafi information hai, uske alawa agar aur kuch hota hai to humko batayein hum usko aapse share karenge.

Now I request Additional Chief Secretary to add few points.

Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Awaneesh Awasthi: I have very few points to add. The first point which I would like to add to is for your reference, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Mauritius, he basically belongs to a place near Rasra, so that detail you can look up. So essentially his roots are from UP. You can look up on the internet and you will find a lot of details about it so that is something interesting that you would like to take up.

I would also like my friends from the press particularly I know quite a few, you could interact with the guests here. I have interacted with two personally. A lady from Israel, a lady who was in China and there is so much of enthusiasm within them for not just building a bridge between India and the country from which they come from but basically to show how they perceive India and this is essentially what came through in the speeches of our leaders.

The perception of India abroad has changed and it has changed drastically and what better could it be if you could interact with some of the people on your own independently and ask them, without any moderation from us and that is what I would request our friends from press to do.

There are a lot of journalists, please interact with the guests around. You could just introduce yourselves and you could ask them the reason for their visiting. On the other hand, on the personal note I can say, I accompanied Hon’ble Chief Minister when he was there in Mauritius and the warmth which was given by the people in Mauritius to us as a visiting team was fantastic, phenomenal and we are reciprocating that in the sense that the Hon’ble Prime Minister and more than 400 persons have come from Mauritius. So that is something of a bond which stays for life.

The third thing which I would like to tell you is from the Malaysian side, which is the largest contingent which came to this Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, it was led by their leader who is equivalent to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He is equivalent to the Chairman of the Senate. The details of course are available.

I have been to earlier Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas on and off but I would request the press to engage with our guests. You have this capacity to bring out the best among them individually and I would request you to do that. And I would like to see that also because this is essentially what we need to take forward.

I would also like to tell you that this entire contingent will now be going to Kumbh in very large numbers on the 24th and your friends in the press could also interact with them at the Kumbh and they are all going there as our guests. They will stay at the Tent City in the Kumbh. They will stay there the entire day and we have made elaborate arrangements. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of Mauritius will also be there in the morning and Mr. Suresh Khanna, who is the Urban Development Minister will be the minister in meeting who will accompany the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Mauritius and his family and be there.

Two announcements which were made by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Mauritius, one regarding the Gita Mahotsav that they are having in collaboration with Haryana Government. Now that is a major step forward because essentially this is what the essence of entire program is i.e. to take our culture forward. I would like to look forward to this aspect being brought forth.

Secondly, the first Bhojpuri Mahotsav or what would I say program is being organized by the government of Mauritius. There have been any number of, I know personally, of programs which have been held on Bhojpuri in Mauritius but this will be an official program by the government of Mauritius. So these two things really are very interesting and for the media I would like that you should take this up and bring this forth because this is the way we want to take it forward.

The entire belt of UP with Bihar and all these areas we have a large number of Bhojpuri speaking people and since I have been there in Mauritius I can say this for sure, the Bhojpuri which is spoken by people there is what Bhojpuri was spoken about 100 years ago and they have maintained it. The culture has been maintained, every house in Mauritius has a Tulsi ka Ped, so this is what our culture is all about. So all of these things will need to come forth and I just thought I would put light on that.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you sir. We have time for few questions.

Question: Jo Pravasi Bharatiya Samman aap de rahe hain kal uski list kya aap share kar sakte hain kyonki hum logon ko pata nahi hai. So that we can prepare earlier whom to interview or not?

Jt. Secretary OIA-II, Shri Manoj Mohapatra: Uska list kal subah aap ko gazette notification mein mil jayega, woh aaj raat ki issue hoga. Uska list kal subah net par bhi available ho jayega as this is general practice kyonki jis din diya jaa raha hai usi din subah ko hi pata chalna chaahiye isiliye hamara list aaj raat ko release ho raha hai, kal subah tak aapke pass mein list aa jayega.

Question Contd.: ………… Inaudible ……………

Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Awaneesh Awasthi: Chaliye jinhone claim kiya hai unke baare mein aap jaroor nikhar dein.

Question: My question to Mulay sir, you said 7228 registration has been made. How many participants are attending in this PBD and countries, can you give us the number?

Secretary CPV & OIA, Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: Countries number is over 92. As again, I forgot to mention, this is the largest number of countries that are participating. So what this means is the enthusiasm in many more countries as compared to the past. And the number is 7228.

Question Contd.: These are the participants?

Secretary CPV & OIA, Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: These are the registered delegates which include awardees, which include some of the people who were awarded in the past, also the KIP participants and those are paid registrants and some other registrations including government delegates.

Jt. Secretary OIA-II, Shri Manoj Mohapatra: Largest is USA with 487, Malaysia is 440 and Mauritius is 413, UAE is 404. These are four countries which have crossed the 400 mark. Lowest are some of the countries, you know when out of 192 countries 92 countries are represented then it means the lowest number is zero.

Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Awaneesh Awasthi: Dekhiye jab bhi koi aisa karyakram hota hai to registration hone ka matlab hai ki wo aate hi hain. Do-chaar kinhi family kaaran se ho sakta hai na bhi aaye ho, but the number is more than 7000.

Jt. Secretary OIA-II, Shri Manoj Mohapatra: Ye jo 7228 hain, abhi last do din mein jo registration ho rahe hain hum uska count nahi kar rahe hain. Kyonki Data upload karna, unke liye card banana is difficult, hamare liye impossible hai isliye kaafi cheezein hum count nahi kar rahe hain. Doosara hai ki kitna aadmi nahi aaya hai uski agar number ginti karenge to bahut kam hoga but jitna add ho raha hai uska number jyada hai.

Second, jo ki aapne poochha ki kitna aadmi Kumbh ja raha hai. As of now hum lagbhag 90-100 buses ka plan kar rahe hain and as of now ka jo figure hai 3200 se 3300 tak kyonki jo abhi join kar rahe hain waise to hum unko mana kar rahe hain fir bhi unka pressure hamare upar hai, unko jaane ke liye majboori ho raha hai. To 3200-3300 tak hum le kar jayenge logon ko Kumbh. Ye number 2900 tak abhi confirm hua hai kyonki wahan par identity ka proof wagairah hai to isiliye 2999 that means lagbhag 3000 ka jo pass humko mil raha tha, 3000 pass hamara use ho raha hai.

Question: Ye jo registration hue hain ismein NRIs kitne aaye hain?

Jt. Secretary OIA-II, Shri Manoj Mohapatra: Ye data to mere pass hai par basically mere ko country-wise ginti karna padega. NRI do tarah ka category hai, thoda complex hai main iske baad apko personally de dunga.

Question from Tribune: I got a press release, I was given the impression that some major announcements are going to be made by the PM regarding the pravasi but we were waiting and nothing really unusual came, so was something planned and it didn’t happen or what was it? I belief in a briefing in Delhi yesterday, that was the impression given.

Secretary CPV & OIA, Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: I think there are two things. One is we have come to a level where Prime Minister is now expecting more from the diaspora. And if you heard him very carefully he spoke about ease in visa, ease in passport, ease in conversion of PIO card to OCI card and he also appealed to them that they should bring five families which are non-Indian origin to India. This really sums up where we have come. But I would say that separately there are a number of engagements taking place from MEA which Prime Minister is not only aware he is also guiding these efforts and these are almost on a daily or weekly basis. One aspect is just these sessions but there are a number of projects. ICWF which he mentioned indirectly is the kind of holistic welfare arrangement that we have made for our diaspora, for example.

And yes we are now taking pravasis, particularly the elder pravasis to religious places in India. That is the scheme he announced and this is really the pravasis in the age group of 45-60 and the first group is already here participating. They will be visiting religious places of all the religions and all the faiths in India.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We will take last round of two to three questions.

Question: Pradhanmantri ne apne bhashan mein ek to e-passport ke baare mein kuch bataya tha, thoda sa usko elaborate kariye ki wo kya hone wala hai. Doosara Pravasi Teerth Yojana ke baare mein bhi thoda sa bataiye.

Question: Kya dono pradhanmantriyon ke beech mei koi policy matter baat hui hai?

Secretary CPV & OIA, Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay: I think the Passport Seva in India has seen a revolution in the last three years. Just to give you one figure, as of today we have opened approximately 290+ new passport centers in the country.

Apne aap mein ek bahut badi baat hai ki within such a short period. So give a comparative figure I would say that till 2014 we had 77 Passport Seva Centers in the country. We have added about 290+, I don’t have the figures because everyday the figure changes. If I understand correctly we are approaching the 300 mark and we will be moving forward to achieve our objective to reach out to every LokSabha constituency in the country. So that is the kind of ambitious program we have undertaken and it is moving very fast in the implementation. So this is on the quantity and the access side.

The other aspect is process of simplification. Its transparent, it is easier now, it is more efficient now and the entire passport seva officials throughout the country have been energized for this particular public service. Technologically we are trying to filling all the loopholes. We also want people not to go beyond 50 kms if possible in terms of getting the passport. Whether it is divorcees, single parents or even sadhus, they should not have problems on account of technical reasons in getting the passport. So very elaborate liberalization and simplification has taken place in the last two years.

And in the next obviously the ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization has adopted new standards now and the whole world is now moving towards e-passport and India has already decided to go for e-passports and the tendering process by the Nashik Printing Press is currently undergoing. So we are hoping that this can be really started as early as possible.

Regarding Teerth Darshan I would request Manoj to give a highlight and if possible give a little highlight to the itinerary that we have for this.

Jt. Secretary OIA-II, Shri Manoj Mohapatra: Ye jo Teerth Darshan hai, it is called Pravasi Bharatiya Teerth Yojana. Ismein basically hai ki pahli baar, bahut humko demand aa raha tha ki hum jo Know India Program kar rahe hain, that Know India Program is for the youth i.e. students or professionals.

Whatever those who had gone earlier still they have the desire to come to India and visit most of the pilgrims and sites. So keeping that in mind, then we, for the first time we have organized the first Pravasi Bharatiya Teerth Yojana and the delegation is here. PM inaugurated the Pravasi Teerth Yojana today and the delegation is here. Every year we will be organizing two of these. The age criteria is 45 to 65 years and all expenditure would be borne by the government of India and only one condition that they should be from the Indian diaspora family.

Secondly, it is a 25 days tour and all major religion and religious places are covered under this 25 days program. And third is while they will be coming to India by flight we would be taking care of their air ticket, inside India the IRCTC that means the Indian Railways, they would be catering to their requirements and we have signed one agreement with them that they would be taking all places of major religions. Whether it is Sikh community they would be going to Baba Saheb, if it is Muslim they would be going to Ajmer, for Christianity they would be going to Cochin, so we have included all major religious places so that it covers all religions and every year we would be doing two. This year the first group is here and after ten days the second group would also be coming and this was today inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.

Question Contd.: Aaj jo shuru hua usmein kitne log shaamil hain?

Jt. Secretary OIA-II, Shri Manoj Mohapatra: Hamara jo KIP ka program hai each group mein 40 members hain. Do to normal KIP jo student aur professional, to do mein ho gaye 80. Aur abhi hamara 50van KIP chal raha hai yani golden jubilee to humne sabhi 50 KIP se ek-ek aadmi le kar ek group banaya wo bhi yahan par hai. To as of now Teerth ka 40 aadmi hai, KIP normal 51 and 52 ka total 80 members hain and golden jubilee ka 50 members hain. Kul milkar abhi hamare pass KIP, Quiz aur Teerth ka 200 se jyada members hain.

Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Awaneesh Awasthi: Thank you Secretary Saahab, thank you Raveesh Ji, thank you Mohapatra Ji and thank you to our dear friends. The strength and the success of any program depends on friends in the media and we would like on the behalf of state, on behalf of Varanasi, behalf of this entire team and of course on behalf of MEA and on behalf of my parent department Tourism, we would like and request our media friends to push it hard so that we are all over the world.

(Concludes)

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