Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India?s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.
PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.
During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India?s growth. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.
Here is an interesting question:
I was born and brought up in India, and like so many of my countrymen, I now find myself enjoying my work and life here in the US. I am on the standard H1B->GreenCard->Citizenship path that many follow.
But I love my country and until recently I could not imagine living permanently elsewhere. I was wondering what it’s like to give up Indian citizenship and accept American citizenship? Was it a hard choice? Did you have regrets?
For many of us who have lived overseas for extended periods of time, a western passport is a practical tool to have. Traveling back to India every so often is made easy by having an OCI.
Take my example: The decision for me wasn’t hard. I naturalized as an American in 2012, after which I had to have my Indian passport cancelled and applied for an OCI. This was a very practical decision since I lived in the US and worked for a European multinational. I was expected to make frequent business trips from the US to the European HQ. As Indian Passport holder (even with a US Green Card) I was required to apply and renew a Schengen visa. A US passport allows a visa-free travel.
There are few professions like Government service, holding a Political office or military where nationalism and patriotism are kind of a ‘Bona fide occupational qualifications’ For the rest of us in professional services or business, nationalistic sentiments take a back seat to one?s family and friends, and life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
One way of looking at Naturalization and giving up a birth-citizenship to acquire another one is similar to the ‘Flag of convenience – Wikipedia’
So, how does it feel?
- Does my heart flutter every time I hear Lata Mangeshkar?s ?A mere watan ke logo? or Mahendra Kapoor?s ?mere desh ki dharti?? Sure it does every time!
- Do I feel a sense of pride standing up for ?star spangled banner? or when I hear ?America the Beautiful.? You Bet !
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