The doors of Indian institutions are always open for the Indian diaspora who will be equal partners in ‘Amrit Kaal’
Over three crore Indian origin people, the diaspora, live in all parts of the world. Some of them are heads of the states. Some are driving global tech behemoths. They are the brains in the laboratories world over for solutions to problems faced by humanities. The Indian diaspora is an asset to countries of their residences.
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee first thought to connect with the Indian diaspora. Pravasi Bharat was conceptualised by him. The 17th edition of India’s dialogue with diaspora took place in the cleanest city of India in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, which saw the participation of over 3,000 people of Indian origin.
On January 9, 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned to India to serve his country in her struggle against British Rule. Late Vajpayee accorded the highest honour to the Indian diaspora by deciding that January 9 would be the ‘Pravasi Bharat Diwas’.
The 17th edition of the Pravasi Bharat Diwas was hosted on the theme of the ‘Indian diaspora reliable partner in Amrit Kaal’. The next 25 years will shape the destiny of India, and by the time the country celebrates 100 years of Indian Independence, it will be a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and our freedom fighters to reclaim the glory that India was known for in the previous centuries before the Mughals and the British looted the wealth of the country.
The 3,500 participants of the Indian diaspora from 70 countries were joyous at the strides India has made in recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The vision for the country that late Vajpayee had shown to the Indian diaspora is now visibly taking shape before the eyes of the people of Indian origins.
The Indian Passport now brings global respect. The world has seen the strength of the Indian passport. The Indian diaspora in the previous decades needed the matinee star Manoj Kumar to tell the world what is India, as he hummed—“mein Bharat ka hun, Bharat ki baat sunata hun (I am from India, and tell stories from India)”. Now, the sight of Indian passport tells stories of the achievements to the global audience loudly.
The Indian diaspora is no more slotted with the people of Pakistani origin, for even the Pakistan nationals fake even in the Muslim countries such as the UAE that they are Indians. This is on account of the Indian diaspora making firm imprints of their skills in whichever country they reside.
PM Modi was aware of late Vajpayee’s vision for diaspora connect when he made it a point that he would connect with them during each of his foreign visit. Thus, the Indian diaspora has been a companion of the Indian journey in the last eight and a half years since PM Modi took charge of the government at the Centre. PM Modi made no distinction between the people in India and those who live abroad, as he gave an account of the achievements of the country to the Indian diaspora in full detail. He, thus, showed the commitment that the government is committed to the interests of the Indian diaspora.
The Indian diaspora has also been deeply connected with the country of their origin. They never gave up their roots. They were bound by a strong sense of belonging to the country. The success of International Yoga Day, Ayurveda, Indian classical music and dance, the history of India, and many others have seen the participation of the Indian diaspora. The Indian diaspora has shown belief in the country, as the remittances are now at par with the foreign direct investment annually, which is a feat without a parallel for any of the economy.
Now, Diwali and Holi are international festivals and so is Chatth. The White House in the US celebrates Diwali and Holi. The tallest buildings in the world capitals celebrate the Indian festivals. India’s Independence Day is now celebrated internationally.
PM Modi very deservingly called the Indian diaspora ‘Rashtradoots’. He also rightly lauded the Indian diaspora for being the peaceful and disciplined citizens of the countries of their residences. This has indeed been a defining attribute of the Indian diaspora, for they only enrich the countries of the residences with their skills and culture.
Germany and Australia recently signed pacts with India for skills development and easing the migration of trained manpower from India. The free trade agreements signed by India with some of the countries such as the UAE, Australia, ASEAN, while the work is in progress in the case of the European Union, the UK and the US, have accorded top priority to migration. The government under the leadership of PM Modi has ensured that the developed world benefits from the trained manpower of India.
Indeed, the developed world is facing the grey tsunami, as they deal with an older population, and their economies would be banking heavily on Indian manpower. The Indian economy too is transforming, having become the fifth largest economy, and the third big economy status too is within sight, which will be achieved within a few years.
The Indian diaspora will have to play a key role in the fast expansion of the economy, from $5 trillion within a few years to $50 trillion by 2047, which will be incumbent upon rapid skilling. The Indian diaspora is already contributing to the skilling efforts of India and technology sharing. But that would be needed to scale up. A section of the Indian diaspora has deep emotional connections with Indian institutions such as the IITs, IIMs, NITs and so on. Some of them are already scaling up their connections with these institutions. But many of them may have to decide that the time has come to take the roles of mentors to the students in laboratories and young entrepreneurs of startups to share their knowledge and skills to make the mission of the ‘Make in India, Make for World’ a grand success.
The global supply chain is undergoing a rejig of the key suppliers in the post-pandemic era. India during the pandemic showed that the country is a reliable partner to the world in times of crisis by ensuring that Indian participation in the global supply chains was never disrupted even while the country went under a national lockdown briefly.
The relevant Indian institutions are already considering the remote voting rights to non-resident Indians. The government has also ensured that the Indian diaspora feels welcomed at places in the country they visit. India has ramped up the ease of travel for the Indian diaspora. The doors of Indian institutions are always open for the Indian diaspora. They are equal partners of India in the ‘Amrit Kaal’. The next 25 years will be the age of the Indian diaspora as well.
(Sumeet Bhasin: The author is the Director of Public Policy Research Centre)