The 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas or Non-Resident Indian (NRI) day got off to a colourful start here on Saturday, with the young Indian diaspora from across the world connecting with their motherland and discovering its wonders.
"With 65 per cent of the Indian population being under 35 years, it's a great opportunity for the young diaspora to foster friendship, discover the country's hoary tradition and rich culture and identify with its ethos," said Karnataka's Industry Minister R.V. Deshpande at the inaugural session of the three-day event.
Lauding the contribution of the young Indian Diaspora worldwide, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel said the American business magazine Forbes had listed about 30 Indians below 30 years as super achievers and game changers in 20 industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, finance and sports.
"It's a matter of pride and honour that Chief Executives of Google, Microsoft and PepsiCo are India-born Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella and Indira Nooyi. President-elect Donald Trump has named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, daughter of Indian immigrants, as the US Ambassador to the United Nations," said Goel.
Suriname Vice-President Michael Ashwin Adhin and Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh also addressed the gathering on the occasion.
Being held for the first time in Karnataka at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre on the city's outskirts, the three-day event has drawn about 1,800 NRIs from 72 countries to redefine their engagement with their motherland.
Besides, about 5,400 delegates from across the country are also attending the mega event.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially inaugurate the event on Sunday and deliver the keynote address in the presence of Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa as the chief guest.
Celebrated every alternate year since 2015 in the second week of January, the biennial event commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa on January 9, 1915 and provides a common forum for addressing issues concerning the Diaspora, especially NRIs and PIOs.
About 10 plenary sessions are being held over the next three days on various topics, including two on start-ups and disruptive innovations and investment opportunities in Karnataka.
President Pranab Mukherjee will confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards and delivery the valedictory address on Monday.
Other Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javedkar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers H.N. Ananth Kumar and Niti Ayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant are among those who will address the gathering at the plenary sessions.
Chief ministers of seven states are also attending the event.
The state's Kannada and Culture department has organised cultural shows in the evenings to entertain the delegates for all the three days.