- The Indian Diaspora is a generic term used for addressing people who have migrated from the territories that are currently within the borders of India. In India, diaspora is commonly understood to include Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), of which PIO and OCI card holders were merged under one category — OCI — in 2015.
Major Countries Hosting Indian Diaspora -2020
- United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 3.5 million
- United States of America (USA) – 2.7 million
- Saudi Arabia – 2.5 million
It contributes by way of remittances, investment, lobbying for India, promoting Indian culture abroad and for building a good image of India by their intelligence and industry.
16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention
- PM Rajiv Gandhi was the first to appreciate the potential role diaspora could play in advancing national development and improving India’s ties with the US. Later Atal Bihari Vajpayee constituted a committee in 2000 under the leadership of L.M. Singhvi, an MP, to suggest a variety of policy initiatives to strengthen the bonds with the overseas Indian communities.
- The committee’s recommendations led to the initiation of what we now know as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and the formation of a separate Ministry for Overseas Indians.
- The Prime Minister inaugurated the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, on 9th January 2021 and lauded the efforts of overseas Indians in fighting the challenges the world faced last year.
- He assured Indian Diaspora that the country always stands with them while mentioning over 45 lakh people were repatriated under Vande Bharat Mission during pandemic. He also emphasized about lessons learnt by India during pandemic has become an inspiration for Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative & this movement for self-reliance is meant to help others as Make in India product and solution will benefit the world.
- The theme was “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat“.
As India, moves forward with its self-reliant initiative what role, can Indian diaspora play in making brand India stronger?
- National representation across the globe:
Diasporas are symbol of a nation’s pride and represent their country internationally. They help in building country’s value internationally through their huge success stories.
- Economic contribution:
Many emigrants make huge investments into their home countries in domestic financial, real estates, services and technological sectors helping in huge inflow of capitals that boost local economy and create huge jobs acting as an “Agents of Change”. Indian have become prominent businesspersons and corporate leaders in many western countries and big players in financial sector, which means they can now act as bridges for investment in Greenfield and brownfield manufacturing and in bringing in financial investment. We have seen many foreign capital flow into the country & technology flow as well.
One of the greatest economic contribution of Indian diaspora has been in terms of remittances. According to Global Migration Report 2020, India continues to be the largest country of origin of international migrants with a 17.5 million-strong diaspora across the world, and it received the highest remittance of $78.6 billion (this amounts to 3.4% of India’s GDP) from Indians living abroad.
- Help in technology transfer:
Today in the 21 Century we are looking to move in a different direction as far as manufacturing and economic growth is concerned & in Information technology in which India again due to the assistance of oversea India we have become today a knowledge economy and IT superpower & as we move to AI driven Industrial Revolution 4.0. Rolls Royce speaks of co-creation and co-development of light combat engine in India. JCB largest manufacturing base is in India not just for captive use for Indian operation but also export equipment all over the world. Another example is the COMCASA agreement, which is meant to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the U.S. to India.
- Response to Pandemics:
In health care many Indian are serving overseas and we get a real sense of how integrated the Indian are in Healthcare and pandemic response globally. India will continue to play its role as world’s pharmacy & protect humanity from Covid-19 adding the world is not only waiting for India vaccine but everyone is watching how India runs world largest vaccination programme. The Oxford AstraZenica vaccine getting manufactured by Serum institute of India is classic example where research & development is happened in one country but manufacturing in our country not just for our captive requirement but for all-out all over the world.
An important advantage in having a large emigrant group is furthering of nation’s diplomacy through people to people contact. Apart from being Competitive a major advantage is by opening the door in a political way i.e in US or UK Indian have a voice and are in good position but we should not forget their loyalty would be to country of their residence. However, as far as business is concerned compared to other countries we can expect great amount of support from them & have significant control and communication with the people.
- Spread of indigenous culture and traditions:
Let us take the example of the Sikh community. The Sikhs are one of the largest migrants from India to the UK, Canada and many other countries. They have very well maintained their culture and ethnic existence for decades.
- Political influence:
Diaspora play important role in influencing policies and politics of its host country in favour of its country of origin and development of good ties and relations between both countries. India’s permanent membership to the UNSC can become a reality with support from the diaspora.
- Help in boosting bilateral ties:
Diaspora increasingly becoming prominent with getting prominent places in the high offices of their residing nations like UK, USA which further helps in building their economic linkages.
Challenges Faced by Indian Diaspora
- Heterogeneous diaspora: Indian Diaspora has different demands from the Indian Government. The diaspora from the Gulf, for example, look to India for support on welfare issues, from US look to India for investment opportunities, from Fiji and Mauritius, meanwhile, desire to reconnect with the country on cultural grounds.
- Racial antagonism: Rising incidence of hate speech and crimes against Indians by the locals due to racism, communalism emboldened by coming of nationalist and ultra-nationalist governments to power in many countries.
- Protectionism: Increasing anti-globalization: Fear of losing jobs and educational opportunities to outsiders has resulted in stricter visa rules in many countries including the USA, Australia, etc.
- Terrorism: Sectarian crisis, increasing terrorist activities and war in the Middle East countries (Yemen, Oman, Libya, Syria etc) leave our diaspora vulnerable to attacks.
- Negative Fallout: It must be remembered that having a strong diaspora does not always translate to benefits for the home country. Compared to China FDI half of it come from Chinese people working overseas but in India while the remittances are high investment are not as good & constitute small part of FDI, therefore what India needs is far more than that if they can plough back that money into business investment, projects so the country leverages in time.
- Initially there were apprehension that Aatmanirbhar Bharat will isolate Indian economy from rest of the world but now we see it is the greater integration of Indian economy with the global economy.
- The diaspora can provide the requisite strategic impulse, which makes it all the more important to unlock their potential.
- The present government is right in their focus on the diaspora as they are a strategic asset to India.
- Though the Government has made a good job in targeting Indian living in Britain, US, Canada, Australia being traditional immigration places for modern Indian but there are other Diaspora as well like in Africa 25% of GDP of Kenya is held by 40000 Indian families, half the richest men from Madagascar are from Indian origin and so on.
- These groups need little more outreach because these are extremely important to us both strategically and economically.
- Apart from it the Prime Minister has not shrunk from talking to the poorer like the Indian diaspora in Myanmar and Burma though they cannot contribute much in terms of economics but we do recognize they can play a vital role in influencing that India as a country sees all of its descendants and children as India has always taken.
- Outreach has to be far more effective. Connect communication strategy with Overseas Indian needs to be strengthened for promoting Make in India more effectively. Global Pravasi Rishta Portal can be used for better connectivity and communication with the Pravasi Bharatiyas.