With over 18 million people of Indian origin scattered around the world, the Indian government decided to designate a commemorative day to honour and recognise the contributions they make not only in the adopted countries, but also to the development of their homeland. Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) was first established in 2000 and is celebrated on January 9 each year.
The date is of significance as it commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest contributor to the diaspora, from South Africa to Mumbai on 9 January 1915.
In 2015 the format was revised to celebrate PBD once every two years in different states and to hold theme based PBD Conferences with diaspora experts overseas. The event is sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India along with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Confederation of Indian Industries and the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.
Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (RPBD) conferences are occasionally organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in several parts outside India to reach out to the diaspora that could not take part and contribute in the main event held in India. These conferences are held in major cities abroad with help from the local governments and the Indian diaspora. So far 10 such events have been held.