Indian Diaspora: Meaning, Distribution and Significance for India

By Balaji

Updated on: March 6th, 2023

Indian diaspora is globally spread and is one of the largest countries of international migrants. People who have left their country of origin for a variety of reasons are referred to as a diaspora. Thus, the term “Indian Diaspora” refers to the group of people who currently reside outside of India and who can trace their ancestry to India.

According to the UN (UNDESA) Report on International Migration 2020 Highlights, approximately 18 million Indian Diaspora reside outside India which is the largest in the world. Download the Indian DIaspora UPSC Notes and study in detail the history of the Indian diaspora, its meaning and importance, and the role of the Indian diaspora in new India.

Table of content

  • 1. Indian Diaspora (more)
  • 2. Distribution of Indian Diaspora (more)
  • 3. Significance of Indian Diaspora (more)
  • 4. Issues Related to Indian Diaspora (more)
  • 5. Government Initiatives for Indian Diaspora (more)
  • 6. Indian Diaspora UPSC (more)
  • 7. Indian Diaspora UPSC Questions (more)

Indian Diaspora

Indian diaspora means the large heterogeneous group of people who have their roots in India but have migrated to other countries for some purposes. People of the Indian diaspora represent a wide spectrum of economic and social classes who speak various languages and adhere to various cultural practices. Currently, the Indian Diaspora is about 20 million, which shows the multiplicity of the origin, culture, and religious ethics in the world.

The term Indian Diaspora is used to refer generally to anyone who emigrated from areas that are today within the boundaries of the Republic of India. Also, it alludes to their progeny. The Diaspora, which consists of “NRIs” (Indian citizens who do not reside in India) and “PIOs,” (Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired the citizenship of some other country) is currently believed to number over 20 million people.

According to the Global Migration Report, 2022, China, Mexico, Russia, and India are the top four origin countries internationally, with India having the greatest population of emigrants in 2020.

Indian Diaspora UPSC Notes

Distribution of Indian Diaspora

The Indian Diaspora is the second-largest diaspora in the world. Every major region of the world is home to the estimated 25 million-strong expatriate Indian community. India’s diaspora is primarily concentrated in the Middle East, the United States, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, Canada, and South Africa, respectively.

The overseas Indian population is the end consequence of numerous waves of movement that occurred over many centuries due to mercantilism, colonialism, and globalization, among other factors.

The government’s data presented in Parliament in 2022 revealed that the Indian diaspora is widely scattered geographically. United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia, and Canada are among the nations with more than 10 lacks Indians abroad.

Significance of Indian Diaspora

An important asset for the advancement of the nations of origin is the overseas communities. It acts as a crucial bridge for the development of the nation of origin with the rest of the globe by providing access to markets, resources, and knowledge. The Indian diaspora plays a significant role in India’s soft diplomacy, which can occasionally be more successful in opening up new channels of communication for the home nation.

  • The Indian diaspora has also aided in the expansion and improvement of the nation where they currently reside. In Silicon Valley, almost one-third of the engineers and 7 percent of the CEOs of high-tech companies are of Indian heritage.
  • In recent years, the Indian Diaspora has become a significant component of investment and trade in India, having played a significant role in the fields of science and technology.
  • In addition to the aforementioned, it is the source of substantial remittance inflows, which have been assisting in the current account’s balance. In the coming years, the Indian diaspora will generate the most remittances worldwide, per the World Bank.

Issues Related to Indian Diaspora

India was one of the first countries to acknowledge the significance of its diaspora and to set up an institutional structure for long-term, mutually beneficial involvement. India has brought its estimated 25 million-strong expatriate Indian community to the public’s attention by establishing an autonomous and efficient Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

But even after these commendable steps, issues still persist. The major issues involving the Indian Diaspora include:

  • The customs and immigration agents’ mistreatment, intimidation, and requests for illicit gratification at the points of entry are the Diaspora’s most frequent complaints.
  • The vast majority of Indians living abroad prefer to keep both their Indian and home country citizenship.
  • The security of foreign employees in the Middle East is now under new threat as a result of recent violent incidents in the region.
  • Nitaqat Law attempts to replace a significant portion of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia with locals. Workers from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and other Indian states who work abroad are impacted by this.

Government Initiatives for Indian Diaspora

The government established a specific Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in 2004 in order to provide particular attention to the concerns relating to the Indian diaspora. It offers the Indian diaspora comprehensive services. Since 2003, the government has celebrated Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas to recognize the contributions of the Indian diaspora to the advancement of India.

  • The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are presented, and a conference for issues affecting the Indian Diaspora is conducted. This has become a crucial method for reunifying the overseas community with its country of origin.
  • The Know India Program was established as a 3-week introductory program for students living abroad in order to raise knowledge of the numerous dimensions of Indian culture and the nation’s achievements in various disciplines.
  • To assist PIOs in discovering their Indian ancestry, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs administers the “Tracing the Roots” program.
  • Given the vast availability of labor in India, the Swarnapravas Yojana was established to increase Indian workers’ employability overseas by providing them with the necessary training.
  • The government has introduced a number of programs for the well-being of Indians residing abroad, including the Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana 2006 and others.
  • The OCI Program was launched in August 2005 as a result of the government’s strong commitment to meeting the desires and hopes of overseas Indians. Although it grants lifetime, multiple, and multi-entry visas with some rights, it does not actually confer dual citizenship in the traditional sense.

Indian Diaspora UPSC

The government has introduced a number of changes and initiatives aimed at the Indian diaspora. However, some adjustments are still required. A smoother welcome at the point of entry, simpler immigration and customs screening procedures, and courteous treatment are necessary to make sure that Indian Diaspora residents feel welcome when they arrive in India and remember their visits fondly.

The Indian Diaspora topic is an important topic for the upcoming UPSC Exam as it is related to current affairs. To study in depth about the Indian Diaspora, candidates must refer to the International Relations Books for UPSC to under the relations between countries, and the history and future of the Indian Diaspora in that region.

Indian Diaspora UPSC Questions

Aspirants can also download the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to practice UPSC Answer writing.

Question – Describe how various policies have changed and evolved India’s interaction with its Diaspora in recent years.

Question – Although the presence of the Indian diaspora in the Gulf states is advantageous for India, there are numerous difficulties connected with it. Discuss.

Question – Shed some light on the ways that the Indian diaspora can aid in the growth of India. Likewise, talk about how India’s approach towards its diaspora has changed recently.

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