Topic: INDIAN DIASPORA
- The Indian Diaspora is a generic term to describe the people who migrated from territories that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India. It also refers to their descendants.
- The Diaspora is composed of “NRIs” (Indian citizens not residing in India) and “PIOs“
(Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired the citizenship of some other country)
- India has the second largest Diaspora in the world. The overseas Indian community estimated at over 31 million is spread across every major region in the world.
- The major concentration of Indian Diaspora is in Middle East, U.S.A, U.K, Canada, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa respectively.
- The overseas Indian community is the result of different waves of migration over hundreds of years driven by a variety of reasons-mercantilism, colonialism and globalization. Older Diaspora who went as indentured labor numbering around 1.7 million.
- In the last three decades of the 20th century the character of migration began to change and a ‘New Diaspora’ led by high skilled professionals moving to the western world and semi-skilled contract workers moving to the Gulf, West and South East Asia emerged.
WHY IMPORTANT FOR INDIA
- Overseas communities constitute a significant resource for the development of the countries of origin. It serves as an important ‘bridge’ to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of origin with the rest of the world.
- Indian Diaspora is an important part of India’s “soft diplomacy”, which sometimes proves to be more effective in creating news paths for the country of origin. For example, Indian Diaspora played a critical in the fructification of Indo-US Nuclear deal.
- They have also contributed to the growth and development of the country of their residence. For example, Silicon Valley represents the success of Indians. 4 out of 10 startups in the region are Indian.
- The Indian Diaspora has played an important role in the field of Science & Technology. Indian emigration thus increasingly consisted, among others, of highly qualified scientists, engineers and other professionals, also termed as the Brain Drain.
- Of late, it has emerged as a significant source of trade and investment in India it is the source of large inflows of remittances, which has been helping balance the current account. According to the World Bank, Remittances to India, the world’s largest remittance recipient, will grow by 4.2 percent in2017 to $65 billion, following a decline of nine percent in 2016.
WHY IN NEWS
- The Indian Diaspora is getting influential across the world so much so that there are 285 people of Indian origin in various positions of leadership such as Heads of state and governments, senators, state leaders and members of parliaments.
- In a unique initiative to forge ties with this influential Diaspora, India hosted the first ever PIO Parliamentarian conference. This conference is only for MPs and mayors and not ministers and heads of states and governments MPs and mayors and not ministers and heads of states and governments because regular interactions already happen at that level.
The idea of the event is to “break the barriers” that may have existed due to the lack of communication between India and any of the other country. It was also an occasion for many countries to upgrade their idea and image about India which is more than slums and poverty.
MAJOR ISSUES PERTAINING TO DIASPORA
- Dual Citizenship: Majority of Indian Diaspora want to retain their Indian citizenship along with the citizenship of the country of their residence.
- Consular and other issues: The commonest grievance of the Diaspora is the ill treatment, harassment and the demands for illegal gratification it encounters at the hands of our customs and immigration officials at the points of entry.
- Culture: Indian Diaspora is deeply conscious of their rich cultural heritage. They are aware that they are the inheritors of the traditions of the world’s oldest continuous civilization. Being part of such a rich legacy they are naturally keen to maintain their cultural identity.
- Threat to their employment (Nitaqat Law):: It is aims to replacing a large section of overseas workers with locals in Saudi Arabia. Because of this, overseas workers from Kerala, TN etc. affected.
- Threat to their security: In view of the recent cases of violence in the Middle East, there has emerged a new threat the very security of oversees workers in the region. For example, the recent kidnapping of Indian workers by IS group.
MEASURES TAKEN BY GOVT
- In recent times, the government has laid a strong foundation by making diplomacy people-centric with government’s constant interaction with the Indian Diaspora.
- The government has started, since 2003, the organization of Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India.
- The government has launched various schemes for the welfare of Indian diaspora living abroad, like Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana, 2006 etc.
- Know India Program was launched as a three-week orientation programme for Diaspora youth conducted with a view to promote awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the country in various fields. KIP provide a unique forum for students & young professionals of Indian origin to visit India, share their views, expectations & experiences and to develop closer bonds with the contemporary India.
- Oversees Citizenship of India Scheme (OCI): In response to persistent demands for “dual citizenship” the OCI Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005. However, it is not a dual citizenship in true sense, rather it only gives life time, multiple and multi-entry visa with some rights.
- The Indian government has executed several evacuation programs for expats trapped in distress in foreign country. Eg Operation Raahat 2015 in Yemen.
- The government has signed social security agreements with many foreign countries for the protection of Indian community in those countries.
AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY
- Medical tourism and travel is one of the biggest opportunities.
- Utilizing the vast experience and resources of the Diaspora in program like ‘Make in India’, ‘Start Up India’ etc
- Sports is one area where India and other countries like Kenya, South Africa can collaborate for better opportunities for sportspersons
- To ensure that Diaspora members feel welcomed on their arrival in India and also recall warmly their visits, a friendlier reception at their point of entry; easier procedures for immigration and customs clearances that are marked by courteous service are essential.
- To address the problems of our overseas blue-collar workers, steps like establishing a welfare fund for repatriated overseas workers in distress, negotiating a Standard Labour Export Agreements with the host countries etc.
- A Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Indian Diaspora could be constituted. It should have in it, members with an interest in Diaspora affairs. This Committee could also act as a focal point for interaction with Parliamentarians of Indian Origin in other countries. Such exchanges are essential in order to bring about greater understanding and amity between them.
The Indian Diaspora is huge source of remittance and knowledge. India has recently recognized the strengths of the Diaspora. The need of hour is to not just see the Diaspora as a source of revenue in terms of remittance but using their experience to push industrialization and generate employment (as Chinese Diaspora did for China).
The Diaspora still faces major hurdles in terms of red tape, corruption etc. The need of the hour is to make the environment more business friendly and transparent.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
What is the contribution of the Diaspora in terms of enhancing the ‘Soft power’ status of India?
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