A large number of people are living outside India. Among them a good percentage belongs to lower or middle income group. This large group of middle-lower income group faces many fundamental problems during their life in the Gulf/other foreign countries and and also when they return to their homeland. The saving habits and rehabilitation facilities available to them are not very promising. Similarly a good percentage of Keralites is living outside Kerala but within India for their being. These Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs-India) are also facing similar circumstances as the NRKs abroad.
Realising such circumstances, Kerala State came forward with a unique initiative, first of its kind in the country, to setup a welfare fund to provide welfare schemes to NRKs (abroad) and NRKs (in India). Kerala Non-Resident Keralites Welfare Board came in to existence under the Kerala Non-Resident Keralites’ Wlefare Act, 2008 passed in the Legislative Assembly, Government of Kerala. More than Two lakhs twenty five thousand NRKs are members in the welfare fund. NRKs abroad but now returned to India for permanent settlement after at least two years of foreign employment, can also avail membership in this Welfare Fund. The Act envisages many welfare schemes such as pension schemes, family pension schemes, medical aid, death assistance, etc.
The occasion is marked by special programs to recognise the contributions of NRI/PIO individuals of exceptional merit, felicitate NRI/PIO individuals who have made exceptional contributions in their chosen field/profession (Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Hindi: NRI/PIO Award)) and provide a forum to discuss issues and concerns of people of the diaspora. The event has been organised every year since 2003, and is sponsored by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), initially sponsored by FICCI.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual event for the Indian diaspora, was canceled for 2016. The format of the event, which is held between 7 and 9 January, has been changed as announced by the minister of external affairs and overseas Indian affairs Sushma Swaraj, in October 2015. As per the announcement, the event was being moved to different states every two years; a smaller event would be held in Delhi every alternate year.