A unique global asset
Pragit Parameswaran discusses the contribution of Indian diaspora across the world.
When Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in 1990, Mathunny Mathews better known as Toyota Sunny stepped in as 'Messiah Mathews'. Sunny's immense contribution played a crucial role of saving 1,70,000 Indians from the Kuwait war in 488 flights.
Indian Diaspora in 2017 witnessed a biggest lose when Bollywood flick 'Airlift' inspired hero Toyota Sunny died. There are many more Non-Resident Indians (NRI) who make India proud at different junctures of the country's journey.
From Google CEO Sundar Pichai to Nobel laureate scientist Har Gobind Khorana and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to world's one of the leading music conductors Zubin Mehta, the list of NRIs and their contribution to the world is endless.
What we see today is Indians in all walks of life. We have Indian filmmakers, Indian lawyers, Indian prosecutors, Indian authors, Indian businessmen, and Indian émigrés rose through the ranks across the globe.
The nation boasts of largest 'diaspora' in the world with more than 30 million persons of Indian origin living abroad. The crowd represents just 1 per cent of India's population but it is a crucial cog that the NRI pool contributes 3.4 per cent of India's GDP.
A World Bank report released last year said that India was the largest remittance-receiving country in the world, with an estimated $69 billion in 2015.
India's diaspora is considered to be skilled, educated, and wealthy. Further, the proportion of highly-skilled Indian migrants has increased considerably over the past decade as the globalisation of trade, capital, and labour has taken hold.
A diaspora estimated at over 30 million people fills mainstream roles and responsibilities in their adopted countries, helping shape the destiny of these countries. The President of Singapore, Governor-General of New Zealand, and Prime Ministers of Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago were all of Indian descent.
Between 1995 and 2005, over a quarter of immigrant-founded engineering and IT companies in the United States were started by Indians, according to a study by Duke University and the University of California. And Indian expats owned an estimated 35 per cent of the country's hotels.
According to the 2000 U.S. census, Indians had median annual earnings of $51,000, compared to $32,000 for Americans overall. About 64 per cent of Indian-Americans have a bachelor's degree or more, compared to 28 per cent of Americans overall, and 44 per cent for all Asian-American groups. Almost 40 per cent have a master's, doctorate, or other professional degree, five times the national average.
When people of Indian origin are held in high esteem, understanding and respect for the country go up. The influential Indian diaspora affects not just the popular attitude, but also government policies in countries where they live, to the benefit of India.
India benefits tremendously through these people in luring large multinational companies as well as entrepreneurial ventures.
The government's emphasis on domestic transformation continued to gain acceleration with India's foreign policy strategy.
The Diaspora population bring technical and domain expertise to domestic startups and often act as angel investors. Diaspora Indian faculty abroad volunteer time and resources to help faculty on Indian campuses improve the quality of education — as in the case of member institutions of the Indo Universal Collaboration of Engineering Education.
This was reflected in advancing projects whether through government arrangements or private commercial deals related to Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Start Up India as well as those aimed at improving our infrastructure and transportation links and fostering all round sustainable development in urban or energy sectors.
The government continued to accord high priority for safeguarding the biggest asset, NRIs with a slew of initiatives and policies. The Ministry continued to improve the institutional framework towards ensuring a safe, orderly, legal and humane migration process. One of the priority areas was to strengthen the eco-system that supports migrant workers in all stages of migration cycle – pre-departure, in countries of destination, as well as on return. New initiatives were launched towards skills upgradation and certification of vocational skills of Indian emigrant workers.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on July 2, 2016, between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) for implementation of the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PKVY). The National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) is in process of setting up customised India International Skill Centres to operationalise this Scheme.
On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra or overseas Indian Centre in New Delhi and dedicated it to the Indian diaspora. The Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra has been established to commemorate the trials and tribulations, as well as the subsequent evolution and achievements of the diverse Indian diaspora.
Commemorating the return India's one of the greatest Pravasis, Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India, the nation also celebrates Pravasi Bharatiya Divas during which the contributions of Indian Diaspora is acknowledged by the country. PIB
(The author is a media consultant. Views expressed are strictly personal)