Indian Diaspora

Indian Diaspora 

Why in the news

On January 9, the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was celebrated in Indore.

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, gave the speech and said that Indians living overseas are the "brand ambassadors" of the country on foreign soil.

About the convention

  • The convention was first started under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003, and since then, its size and scope have kept growing. 
  • Since 2015, the Ministry of External Affairs has turned the event into a biennial affair. 
  • The 17th convention was about the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India on January 9, 1915, from South Africa. 
  • The President of Suriname, who addressed the convention, said that "it is the 150th year of the first journey of Indians to Suriname". 

What is the history of Indian ex-pats?

  • During the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Indians were shipped to the British colonies to work on plantations. Those countries were reeling under a labour crisis due to the abolition of slavery in 1833–34. All these were taken to the East Pacific and Caribbean islands under the "girmitiya" arrangement as indentured labourers.
  • Around 20 lakh Indians went to Singapore and Malaysia in 1819 to work on farms. 
  • The professionals moved to western countries, and the workers went to the Gulf and west Asia in the wake of the oil boom. 

Categories of overseas Indian

There are three categories of overseas Indians:

  • NRI (Non-Resident of India)
    • Indians who are residents of foreign countries.
  • PIO (Persons of Indian Origin)
    • A foreign citizen with Indian origin (except Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal), their ancestor held permanent citizenship of India or their spouse's citizen of India. 
    • This category was abolished in 2015 and merged with OCIs.
    • The existing PIO cards exist only till December 31, 2023
  • OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) 
    • This category was devised in 2006. 
    • A person who becomes eligible to be a citizen of India on January 26, 1950, or after that date 
    • Minor children of such people who are not a part of Pakistan or Bangladesh were also eligible for OCI cards.

What is the population of each category? 

  • As of August 22, 2022, the Ministry of External Affairs reports 4.7 crores of Indians are living overseas. This includes NRIs, PIOs, OCIs, and students. 
  • If excluded students are counted, 3.22 crore Indians live abroad, of whom 1.35 crore are NRIs and 1.87 crores are PIOs.
  • The numbers show the Indian Diaspora is widely spread all around the world. 
  • According to the World Migration Report, India has the largest emigrant population in the world. 

What role do remittances play?

  • It is one of the sources of household income. 
  • The latest brief of the World Bank on Migration and Development said that for the first time, a single country, India, received more than $100 billion in remittances in a year. 
  • India is the top recipient of remittances. 

The road ahead

  • The Indian Diaspora, a relatively new phenomenon, has achieved political prominence in the United Kingdom and the United States. 
  • On January 9, the Prime Minister mentioned that Pravasi Bharatiya is a big part of India's development story. He also said that whenever he visits foreign countries, a large diaspora gathering welcomes and addresses him; also, many Indians living overseas play a significant role in organizing the meetings. 
  • According to the report of the House panel, a large portion of the diaspora is excluded from the Pravasi Bharatiya convention. 
  • It was expressed that low-skilled and blue-collar workers do not find it comfortable to participate in the event because there are generally high-level participants.
  •  The committee suggested that participation and involvement should be broad-based to accommodate the vulnerable sections of the diaspora. 


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