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Vayalar Ravi on 7-day visit to Gulf

Posted on Nov 09, 09:35PM | IANS

In preparation for the 2013 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) at Kochi in Kerala, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi will go on a seven-day visit to the Gulf nations, beginning Saturday, to meet representatives of the nearly six-million Indian diaspora there.

The PBD 2013 will be held from Jan 7 to 9 -- this will be the first time the event will be held in Kerala, home to a majority of overseas Indians living in the Gulf.

Sessions throughout the first day of the three-day PBD-2012 will discuss the issues and concerns of overseas Indians living in the Gulf nations.

"I will be on a whirlwind tour of the Gulf nations from Saturday to meet overseas Indians living there and to seek their participation in large numbers in the PBD-2013," Ravi told IANS here.

"This is the first time the PBD is going to be held in Kerala, which has a large overseas population," he said, when asked about the significance of the event.

The 2012 PBD was held in Jaipur in January and in October this year, India, in collaboration with the Mauritius government, held a mini-PBD at Port Louis.

The PBD-2013 will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Jan 8, 2013. But on the first day, Jan 7, 2013, the event will discuss the Gulf region.

On the last day of the event on Jan 9, 2013, President Pranab Mukherjee will deliver the valedictory address, apart from presenting the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, an award for overseas Indians who have achieved distinction in their respective fields.

Mauritius President Rajkeswur Varryag will be the chief guest at PBD-2013.

"We want to reach out to the Indian diaspora in the Gulf region and hence, have a daylong session on issues concerning them at the Kochi PBD this year," Ravi said.

The minister is visiting Kuwait, Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Riyadh, Jeddah and Bahrain during the tour, ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) officials said.

At these places, Ravi will meet prominent Indian doctors, businessmen and other professionals, apart from members of Indian associations, when they would discuss matters relating to their welfare, apart from inviting them to PBD-2013.

Between these meetings, he will also hold talks Monday with United Arab Emirates' Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash at Abu Dhabi on issues concerning Indian workers in employment there.

At Sharjah, he will visit an Indian community funeral centre that is coming up through India's MOIA grant of USD 820,000, which accounts for 50 percent of the USD 1.64-million cost of the project.

He will also meet with the Indian Association and the Umm al-Quwain at Sharjah, where funds from the Indian Community Welfare Fund of the MOIA will be presented to the association through a cheque.

At Muscat, he would hold meetings with Manpower Minister Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Abdullah Al Bakri, Justice Minister Abdulmalik Bin Abdullah bin Ali al Khalili, and Police and Customs Inspector General Lt. Gen. Hassan Bin Mohsin Bin Salim al Shraiqi.

In these meetings, issues concerning overseas Indians and their welfare are likely to come up, particularly over employment, visa expiry and overstay issues.

At Riyadh, Ravi will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the Indian cultural week.

He will also have the opportunity to discuss operational matters with the Indian diplomatic corps in the Gulf nations.