Singapore President to be Chief Guest at PBD-2009 at Chennai

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New Delhi, Nov 11 (UNI) Singapore President Sellapan Ramanathan will be the Chief Guest at the Seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held in Chennai on January 7-9, 2009, in the backdrop of the global economic slowdown.

About 1500 delegates from across the world are expected to take part in the Indian Diaspora convention which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 8.

The PBD, which will have the theme 'Engaging the Diaspora : The way forward,' will be an attempt to invite the Indian dispora to invest in their country of origin and help in the times of economic slowdown.

President Pratibha Patil will give the valedictory address on January 9. She will also confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards for 2009.

Several Central Ministers and Chief Ministers are also scheduled to address the delegates.

Mr K Mohandas, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, who reviewed the preparations for the PBD at the first meeting of the Organising committee of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here today, said two Vice Presidents and several Ministers from various countries are also scheduled to participate.

Mr Mohandas said the PBD-2009 had assumed greater significance in view of the global economic crisis that created a need for increased interaction between India and the 'persons of Indian origin' abroad.

He said the PBD was likely to create more interest in view of the fact that Indian economy is doing better compared to the situation across the world. He expected substantial business to take place during the convention and several joint plans of action to emerge.

Nineteen States and Union Territories have confirmed their participation. A plenary session with Chief Ministers and separate sessions with State Governments have been planned.

The focus topics for discussion include 'Indian Diaspora : Preservation of Language and Culture', 'Role of Diaspora Youth in the 21st Century India' and 'India as an Emerging Power : The Diaspora Factor'.

So far, Malaysia has confirmed the highest number of participation in the convention followed by Singapore.

A special Trade and Industry Exhibition with participation from Corporate, Financial Institutions, State Governments, NGOs and others would form part of the event.

Arrangements have been made to take delegates on tour to Tirupati, Puducherry, Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) and other places.

UNI RB PD RAI1724

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