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Sansad TV: The Global Debate- Role of Indian Diaspora in India’s progress in Amrit Kaal




Indian diaspora:

  • The Indian diaspora around the world now stands at 31.2 million, of which PIOs were 17 million and NRIs were 13 million, spread across 146 countries in the world.
  • The US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Myanmar, the UK, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Canada host an Indian diasporic population of at least one million each.
  • 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 a whopping 3.4% of India’s GDP) from Indians living abroad.

The opportunities that Indian diaspora brings for India are as follows.

  • They serve 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” or “diaspora diplomacy”. 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.
  • The Indian Diaspora has played an important role in the field of Science & Technology.
  • Trans-national entrepreneurship: They are a significant source of trade and investment in India.
  • Source of large inflows of remittances, which has been helping balance the current account. It further aids in socio-economic development and poverty reduction. According to the World Bank, Indian Diaspora is the largest earner of remittances in the world currently.
  • Diffusion of experience and exposure: They spread the Indian Culture and traditions abroad benefitting India in general. Example: Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian Cuisine etc.

Challenges posed by the diaspora:

  • Low oil prices owing to Shale gas boom and slower global growth is resulting in job cuts for Indians.
  • Discriminative practices owing to a racist, colonial mindset still persists. This makes it difficult to secure jobs and work visas.
  • Support of the diaspora is neither automatic nor continuous, and their interests need not be India’s priorities. Example:the Indian community in the US was not vocal enough in criticising Trump’s proposal to restrict the H-1B visa programme that has benefited many Indians.
  • Majority of Indian Diaspora want to retain their Indian citizenship along with the citizenship of the country of their residence.
  • Another challenge is that remittances may not always be used for beneficial purposes. Example:India faced problems due to foreign funding for extremist 29 movements like the Khalistan movement.
  • Indians prefer to do higher studies abroad and work as scientists and economists abroad causing India loss of talent in areas of research and development.
  • Reports suggest that the e-Migrate system and the Minimum Referral Wages policyhave been detrimental to India as companies now find it easier to hire labour from countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Way Forward:

  • To ensure that Diaspora members feel welcomed on their arrival in India, easier procedures for immigration and customs clearances that are marked by courteous service are essential.
  • Ease entry of foreign funds.
  • Address the problems of our overseas blue-collar workers
    • Negotiating a Standard Labour Export Agreements with the host countries
    • Monitoring and supervision of our overseas workers by our Missions
    • compulsory insurance schemes covering the risks faced by our overseas workers
  • Inclusive Diplomacy.
  • PIOs make frequent visits to their home state or to visit their relatives. There should be greater focus on promoting tourism among 2nd generation PIOs.
  • Welfare of Indian Women married to NRIs/PIOs
  • Economic Development
    • Diasporic professionals are working in senior positions in manufacturing industry can be helpful in promoting India as an important destination for out-sourcing.
    • Government should also consider setting up Special Economic Zones, exclusively for projects to be set up by NRIs/PIOs.
    • The Government should consider issuing special infrastructure bonds for attracting NRI/PIO investments on the lines of the Israel Bonds.
  • The challenge before India lies in the way it taps its widespread Diaspora’s financial and intellectual capital.


The diasporic populations have become an increasingly important factor in international politics. The Indian diaspora, for their part, have many of the elements required for success — they are a “model minority”, they are affluent, and they are growing in number. Many of them are willing to exert their influence in electoral politics and are engaged in multinational businesses, and are thus highly visible. This makes for a ripe environment for India to aggressively tap on their potential.