Indian diaspora meet set to open - amid global recession

January 7th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghChennai, Jan 7 (IANS) Colourful giant billboards and tight security welcome 1,500 delegates and dignitaries at the venue of the seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the country’s annual convention to connect with its diaspora starting here Wednesday evening. Delegates from over 40 countries are scheduled to participate in the three-day event Chennai Trade Centre. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to deliver the inaugural address Thursday, while President Pratibha Patil will give the valedictory address Friday.

The president will also confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards Friday.

The event assumes great importance in view of the global economic crisis that has created a need for increased interaction between India and the people of Indian origin who live abroad. India has a 25 million strong diaspora spread over 130 countries.

Surinam Vice President Ramdien Sardjoe is the chief guest at the diaspora meet. Other important guests include Mauritius Vice President Angidi Chettiar, former Fijian prime minister Mahendra Chaudhury and former Malaysian minister Samy Vellu.

For the event, being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the Tamil Nadu government and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), security forces have turned the Chennai Trade Centre into a fortress. Over 20 ministers, including state chief ministers, are expected to attend the conference.

There are around 900 policemen on duty, including a bomb detection squad. Besides, over 3,500 policemen will offer protection to the visiting delegates. Over 5,000 police personnel have been deployed in the city along with commandos from the National Security Guard and local police personnel.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia are among those scheduled to address the delegates.

V. Narayanasamy, minister of state for parliamentary affairs and planning, is to inaugurate a trade and industry exhibition Wednesday evening, while Pranab Mukherjee will host the welcome reception.

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