Programmes and Schemes for Indian Diaspora Abroad

Government have taken several initiatives for engaging the Indian Diaspora around the world. The major initiative is the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, which is one of the largest diaspora engagements in the world. The Ministry of OIA does not organise programmes based on region, caste or creed. Besides Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, this Ministry organizes various other engagement programmes namely Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, Know India Programme, Study India Programme, Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children, Tracing the Roots and issues Overseas Citizen of India(OCI) cards for eligible applicants from the Indian diaspora abroad irrespective of their region, caste or creed. In addition Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Awards are also given to distinguished NRIs/PIOs for excellence in various fields. New programmes for the Indian Diaspora abroad are formulated by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs from time to time taking into account the various needs for engaging the Indian Diaspora.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs organises the following programmes and schemes for the Indian Diaspora abroad.

1. Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (RPBD)

This Ministry organizes Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (RPBD) to allow participation of the Indian diaspora who are unable to attend annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in India. So far, 7 Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas have been held at New York, Singapore, The Hague, Durban, Toronto, Mauritius and Sydney. These have elicited enthusiastic support from the Indian diaspora and the local Government and have been highly successful.

7th Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (RPBD) Convention was organized by MOIA in Sydney, from 10th - 12thNovember, 2013 to have interaction & discussion with Indian Diaspora to ensure their connectivity with their ancestral motherland as well to know their expectations & concerns. Secondly, the guiding spirit of the decision to hold the 7thRPBD in Australia was on account of the sentiments of the Indian diaspora in the region. Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea represent an important region for our diaspora, and the Indian community has been taken note of by the leadership of all political parties, there.

The theme of the PBD Convention in Sydney was “Connecting for a Shared Future: The Indian Diaspora, India and the Pacific”. This was appropriate, as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas seeks to reach out to both members of the Indian origin community as well as all those persons who are interested in plugging into India’s growing relationship with Australia and its neighbouring countries.

The programme for the event included an inaugural session on Sharing Experiences and breakout sessions on different topics including Bilateral Business Opportunities in Services, Resources, Primary Commodities, Engagement through Culture, Indian Languages, Skills, Infrastructure (Airports, Ports, Road and Construction), Manufacturing, Education, Culture and Youth Dialogue. There were breakout sessions also on Sharing Experiences, The Indian Diaspora in the Pacific, Honouring the Success Stories, Scientists and Academics, Women in Business and Community, Power of Media in the Asian Century and India Australia Strategic Partnership.

Eighth Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is scheduled to be held in London from 16th to 18thOctober, 2014.

2. Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards (PBSA)

The Award shall be conferred on a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO) or an organization or institution established and run by Non-Resident Indians or Persons of Indian Origin, who has made significant contribution in any one of the following fields:

(a) Better understanding abroad of India;

(b) Support to India’s causes and concerns in a tangible way;

(c) Building closer links between India,the overseas Indian community and their country of residence;

(d) Social and humanitarian causes in India or abroad;

(e) Welfare of the local Indian community;

(f) Philanthropic and charitable work;

(g) Eminence in one’s field or outstanding work, which has enhanced India’s prestige in the country of residence; or

(h) Eminence in skills which has enhanced India’s prestige in that country (for non-professional workers).

It is conferred by the President of India as a part of the Pravasi BharatiyaDivas (PBD) Convention. PBSA is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians. So far, 164 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards have been conferred on PIOs and NRIs. During PBD 2014, 13 prominent Overseas Indians were given PBSAs for their notable contributions in different fields.

3. Know India Programme (KIP)

The objective of the Ministry's Know India Programme is to help familiarize Indian Diaspora youth, in the age group of 18-26 years, with developments and achievements made by the country and bringing them closer to the land of their ancestors. KIP provides a unique forum for students and young professionals of Indian origin to visit India, share their views, expectations and experiences and to bond closely with contemporary India. The Ministry has conducted 28 editions of KIPs so far and a total of 866 overseas Indian youth participated in these programmes.

The participants are selected based on nominations received from Indian Missions/Posts abroad. They are provided hospitality and are reimbursed 90% of their economy class return airfare from their respective countries to India. The programme content broadly includes the following:

(a) Presentations on India, the Constitution, the political process, etc.

(b) Interaction with faculty and students at a prestigious University / College / Institute

(c) Presentation on industrial development and visit to some Industries

(d) Visit to a village to better understand the typical village life in India

(e) Exposure to Indian media and cinema

(f) Interaction with NGOs and organizations dealing with women's issues

(g) Visits to places of historical importance or monuments

(h) Participation in Cultural programmes

(i) Exposure to Yoga

(j) Call on high dignitaries, which may include the President of India, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and Ministers in-charge of Overseas Indian Affairs, Youth Affairs and Sports, etc.

4. Study India Programme (SIP)

The first 'Study India Programme' (SIP) was organized from 25 September to 23 October, 2012 in Symbiosis University, Pune, Maharashtra with participation of 9 youths of Indian origin from four countries like Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia, Fiji and South Africa. Like KIP, SIP has immense potential of connecting youth Indian Diaspora with India through the channel of educational institutions.

The SIP enables Overseas Indian youth to undergo short term course in an Indian University to familiarize them with the history, heritage, art, culture, socio-political, economic developments etc. of India. The focus of the programme is on academic orientation and research. Cost of boarding, lodging, local transportation, course fee during the programme and 90% of the cost of air-ticket by economy class is borne by Govt. of India. Gratis Visas by Indian Missions are granted to the participants.

The 2ndSIP was conducted from 01.11.2013 to 28.11.2013 at the Symbiosis University, Pune, Maharashtra with the participation of 14 youths of Indian origin.

5. Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC)

A scheme called 'Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC)' was launched in the academic year 2006-07. Under the scheme 100 scholarships upto US$ 4000 per annum are granted to PIO and NRI students for undergraduate courses in Engineering/Technology, Humanities/Liberal Arts, Commerce, Management, Journalism, Hotel Management, Agriculture/Animal Husbandry etc. The scheme is being implemented by Educational Consultants India Limited (Ed. CIL), a Government of India Enterprise under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The scheme is open to NRIs / PIOs/OCIs from 40 countries with substantial Indian Diaspora population. SPDC scheme has been modified and it has been decided to do away with the "Common Entrance Test (CET)" for selecting PIO/OCI and NRI students for the award of scholarships. The applications from students who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria are evaluated and short listed by a selection committee consisting of officers from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ed.CIL (India)Ltd. and MOIA and recommended for selection to the competent authority.

6. Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card Scheme

Keeping in view Government's deep commitment of engaging Persons of Indian Origin with the land of their ancestors in a mutually beneficial relationship, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme was launched in August, 2005 by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955. The OCI Scheme is operated by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Scheme provides for registration as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) of all Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) who were citizens of India on or after 26 January, 1950 or were eligible to become citizens of India on 26 January, 1950 and who are citizens of other countries, except Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Scheme provides for the issue of OCI documents consisting of OCI registration certificate and universal visa sticker to PIOs. The Scheme has been operational since January 2006 and as on 31 March, 2014, a total number of 15,25,890 PIOs had been registered as OCIs.

A registered Overseas Citizen of India is granted multiple entry, multi-purpose, life-long visa for visiting India, and is exempted from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Office for any length of stay in India. As mandated under the Allocation of Business, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has issued notifications granting registered OCIs further benefits as under:

(i) Parity with Non-Resident Indians in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children;

(ii) Parity with resident Indian nationals in matters of tariffs in domestic airfares;

(iii) Parity with domestic Indian visitors in respect of entry fee for visiting national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India;
(iv) Parity with non-resident Indians in respect of:

  (a) entry fee for visiting the national monuments, historical sites and museums in India;
  (b) practicing the following professions in India, in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts, namely:
     · Medicine, dentists, nursing and pharmacy;

     · Law;

     · Architecture; and

     · Chartered Accountancy;

(v) Entitlement to appear for the All India Pre-Medical Test or such other tests to make them eligible for admission in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts.

However, the OCI is not 'dual nationality'. OCI does not confer political rights. Detailed instructions and procedures concerning the OCI Scheme are available in the MHA's website: www.mha.nic.in.

An on-line OCI miscellaneous service is now available for issuance of duplicate OCI documents, in case of issuance of new passports, change of personal particulars, such as nationality, name, change of address/occupation etc. and loss/damage of OCI registration certificate/visa.

7. Tracing the Roots

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is running a scheme since October 2008 known as "Tracing the Roots" to facilitate PIOs in tracing their roots in India. PIOs who intend to trace their roots in India need to apply in a prescribed Form, through the Indian Mission/Post in the country of their residence. Application Form for this purpose is available on the website. Persons of Indian origin desirous of tracing their roots in India would be required to fill up the prescribed application form and deposit it with the concerned Indian Mission/Post located in the country of their residence along with a fee of Rs.30,000 (Rupees Thirty Thousand only) in equivalent US $, Euro or any other foreign currency acceptable to the Indian Mission/Post.

The traced details of roots in India, i.e. name of close surviving relative(s); place of origin of their forefathers (paternal and maternal side); and a possible family tree, are made available to the applicant.

In case the attempt is not successful, the Indian Mission is authorized to refund Rs.20,000 (Rupees Twenty Thousand only)to the applicant. For further details/information regarding the Scheme, the nearest Indian Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General may be contacted.

Source : www.pib.nic.in

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