Updated: Nov 25, 2021
EVENT DATE : 18 SEPTEMBER
Indian hearts swell with pride as their brethren in the world’s most advanced nation get frequently celebrated as a “model minority”. While India remains stuck in the third-world, it’s citizens revel vicariously as their former compatriots or their progeny rise to leadership positions in Business and Politics in the first world nations. According to a UN report, the #Indiandiaspora is the largest in the world, estimated to be 32 million strong spread across over 30 countries, bringing India the highest share of global remittances. But the remittances are only a small part of the benefits India receives from its diaspora. Recently their contributions in strengthening ‘Brand India’ abroad has been increasingly receiving attention. India’s PM Narender Modi has repeatedly called attention to the role that the diaspora will play in India’s development process and in the promotion of its #foreignpolicy goals. Even the de-facto opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has labelled the diaspora as “important” on multiple occasions.
But there is another side to this rosy story. Between 2000 and 2020 India's diaspora abroad grew by 10 million, faster than any other nation. In this India was followed by Syria, Venezuela, China and the Philippines, nations either in the grip of authoritarianism or undergoing economic collapse. Interestingly over the same period, India experienced a pronounced decline in immigrants. What does this say about India’s attractiveness to both insiders and outsiders? For many this is clear evidence of India’s stagnating economy and lack of opportunities within its borders.
They point to the fact that the biggest chunk of the Indian diaspora is not in Europe and North America, but in the Middle East. The vast majority of them are not running MNCs, but engaged as contract labour in Construction and Energy sectors. Even after decades of living there, neither they nor their children born there are entitled to any rights in those countries. Stories about their mistreatment often make it to global headlines. If anything their presence there exposes to the world India’s abject failure at generating employment for its young and skilled. It is also argued that the reliance on a successful diaspora in places like the US and UK might be misplaced as their interests need not be aligned with India’s priorities. For example India has had problems with negative campaigning and foreign funding for separatist movements like the Khalistan movement.
So what is the right way to view India’s diaspora? Do they represent an ever growing pool of citizens disillusioned with India venturing far away from home in the hope of prosperity? Or are they champions of an emerging India spreading its soft power in their adopted countries?
FURTHER READINGS - AS RECOMMENDED BY SPEAKERS
DR. BINOD KHADRIA
~The Migration of Knowledge Workers: Second-generation Effects of India's Brain Drain (Sage 1999) https://books.google.co.in/books/about/The_Migration_of_Knowledge_Workers.html?id=BLaZAAAAIAAJ&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y
~“Skilled Diasporas in Asian Development”, Special journal issue of Asian Population Studies, v3, n2, Taylor&Francis by NUS, Singapore, 2007 https://ari.nus.edu.sg/publications/asian-population-studies-vol-3-no-2/
~ India Migration Report 2009: Past, Present and the Future Outlook, IMDS Project JNU & Cambridge University Press, 2009
~ India Migration Report 2010-11: The Americas, Cambridge University Press, 2012
~ World Migration Report 2020, Biennial Flagship Publication of IOM-The UN Migration Agency, Geneva https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/wmr_2020.pdf
(Editors: Marie McAuliffe and Binod Khadria)
~ The Sage Handbook of International Migration, Sage London, 2019
(Editors: Christine Inglis, Wei Li and Binod Khadria)
2. DR. AMBA PANDE
~ AUTHOR OF WOMEN IN DIASPORA
3. DR. ANJALI SAHAY
~ AUTHOR OF INDIAN DIASPORA IN UNITED STATES : BRAIN DRAIN OR GAIN