TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Indian Diaspora
In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 16th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas convention.
- Addressing the event, he told Indians across the world that they are connected in minds because of ‘Maa Bharti’ and lauded the efforts of the overseas Indians in fighting the challenges last year.
- He assured the Indian diaspora that the country always stands with them, while mentioning that over 45 lakh people were repatriated under the Vande Bharat mission during the pandemic.
- The Prime Minister said the lessons learnt by India during the pandemic have become an inspiration for the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, and this movement for self-reliance is meant to help others as “Made in India” products and solutions will benefit the world.
- In this regard, he spoke about the two “Made in India” coronavirus vaccines. He said India will continue to play its role as the world’s pharmacy and protect humanity from Covid-19, adding that the world is not only waiting for India’s vaccine, but everyone is watching how India runs the world’s largest vaccination programme.
Role of Indian Diaspora
There are close to 32.1 million NRIs and PIOs residing outside India. They are huge reservoirs of talent and potentiality that India needs to draw upon. The Indian diasporic community are “unnamed ambassadors” promoting and maintaining the rich Indian culture and interests on foreign lands.
Indian diaspora as a biggest strategic asset for India:
- Global labour source: With one of the largest pools of relatively low wage semi-skilled and skilled labour, India can become a critical centre of global labour sources. The past few decades has seen an upsurge of migration from India to the Gulf and, to North America. Given these emerging realities, India take advantage of these future trends to not only maximise the welfare of Indians outside the country, but also those within the country Can international migration and the Diaspora be a strategic asset for the country instead of just depleting its best and brightest.
- Influential Positions: From Google CEO Sundar Pichai to Nobel laurete scientist Har Gobind Khorana and Microsoft CEO Sathya Nadella to world’s one among the leading music conductors Zubin Mehta, the list of NRIs and their contribution to the world goes endlessly. The President of Singapore, Governor-General of New Zealand and prime ministers of Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago were all of Indian descent.
- As a Pressure groups: The influential Indian diaspora affects not just the popular attitude, but also government policies in countries where they live, to the benefit of India. India benefits tremendously through these people in luring large multinational companies as well as entrepreneurial ventures. Example: lobbying for the US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement Bill in 2008
- Agents of change: Diaspora acts as ‘agents of change’ facilitating and enhancing investment, accelerating industrial development, and boosting international trade and tourism. Another tangible long-term advantage in nurturing ties with an active Diaspora is an accelerated technological sector.
- Soft Power: The spread of Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian spiritualism, Bollywood, Indian cuisine across the world has made India famous. It has even led to revival of many lost relationships with many countries.
- Humanitarian Assistance: There are many instances where diaspora has stood up for their Indian kins in times of disaster. Example: during the recent Kerala floods, immense help in the form of men, material and money from diaspora was given. Indian diaspora residing in China’s Shanghai has contributed Rs. 32.13 lakh to the Chief Minister’s distress relief fund for Kerala floods.
- Political power: Many people of Indian origin hold top political positions in many countries, in the US itself they are now a significant part of Republicans and Democrats, as well as the government. The three ministers Rishi Sunak, Alok Sharma, and Priti Patel have held top roles in the UK government currently.
Measures taken by the Government to help the distressed diaspora during COVID-19
- Vande Bharat Mission was the biggest evacuation exercise to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad amidst the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions. It was also considered as the largest exercise to bring back Indian citizens since the evacuation of 177,000 from the Gulf region in the early 1990s at the start of hostilities between Iraq and Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
- The mission has given priority to Indian citizens with “compelling reasons to return” – like those whose employment have been terminated, those whose visas have expired and not expected to be renewed under the present circumstances and those who have lost family members in recent times.
- The program named Samudra Setu by Indian navy entails to bring back around two thousand Indians in two ships during the first phase of evacuation.
- INS Jalashwa and INS Magar are being operated as part of efforts to repatriate Indian nationals from foreign shores.
Way forward –
- Deepening links within existing Diaspora: India needs to court two important, but untapped, segments of the existing Dia-spora: the young, second generation of overseas Indians; and those approaching retirement.
- Diversify: Currently, Indias migration is concentrated in English-speaking countries for obvious reasons. The EU, Japan, Latin America and Russia should also be targeted over the next few decades. Also, there is greater scope for jobs at all skill levels in global transportation, health and home care. This requires major investments in specific educational services.
- Increase investment engagement: Diaspora should be treated at par with other Indian citizens, including the right to work, both in the private and public sectors, and the right to buy and sell property to attract talented persons into the public sector.
The Indian diaspora is the bridge between their nation and India where they can grow simultaneously for betterment of their citizens. With the versatile role of Diaspora, India could fulfil its cherished dream of being a super power and it could make much head way in its international and foreign affairs. The diaspora can provide the requisite strategic impulse, which makes it all the more important to unlock their potential.
Connecting the Dots:
- To view the diaspora only through the looking glass of remittances and financial flows is to take a myopic view. Not all expatriates need to be investors and their development impact measured only in terms of financial contributions to the home country is to miss the larger picture. Comment.
- Indian Diaspora is India’s asset in disguise. Elaborate with suitable examples.