India is burning, where is her Diaspora?
On the eve of the setting up of the High-Level Committee ...
On the eve of the setting up of the High-Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora, at the turn of the century, then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee had triumphantly stated, “What we seek is a broader relationship, a partnership among all children of Mother India, so that our country can emerge as a major global player. We value the role of people of Indian origin as unofficial ambassadors providing a link between India and the rest of the world”.
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) at its first Global Convention in New York in Aug-Sept 1989 had seen a euphoric participation of the Indian American community to regroup and assert their identity. Expectations were high, and the BJP government had rightly seized the moment. Since then the Diaspora has soared to greater heights in their host countries and occupied the highest positions in the political, financial and cultural worlds with a bewildering diversity of languages, religions, customs and traditions. A recent World Bank report mentioned that India received $83 billion in remittances from her Diaspora in 2020, the highest in the world leaving China far behind.
The numbers estimated in the High level Committee Report of around 20 million have since swelled and today the Global Indian Diaspora (GID) could well be estimated at 30 million or more as cross currents of emigration have crowded the West as well as parts of West and South East Asia with the best of Indian talents hobnobbing to integrate into these societies for a good life and professional gratification. The older lot of people of Indian origin (PIOs) who had emigrated to countries in Africa, Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius and the contiguous islands of the Indian and Pacific oceans for over three centuries due to various ‘push-pull’ factors have largely integrated into their respective milieus and considered India as a reservoir of cultural moorings which could be their faraway fancy to draw sustenance from.