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Bringing Global Indians Closer to India

The Indian diaspora with a significant size of more than 3.1 crore people has represented India, formally and informally, across multiple forums for decades. It is a matter of great pride for the country that Indians succeed globally. Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conducted rigorous dialogues and engagements with the diaspora to not only ensure that they are valued back home but also to ensure that they are helped whenever in need. The Prime Minister has reignited the sense of belongingness by involving them in areas close to the heart of every Indian including Namami Gange and Swachh Bharat. The Prime Minister established a link with the diaspora which has now taken the form of a relationship.

In 2003, when the Bhartiya Janata Party was at the helm of affairs under the able leadership of Late Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, annual event dedicated to the Indian diaspora, called the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was launched. The event was however reduced to a token event under 10 years of UPA.

In 2015, when around 9,000 Indians came for the celebration, it was a welcome step for those overseas. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated on a huge scale, which reconnects Indians from the diaspora with their roots and inculcates a sense of belonging. It is also an effort to communicate the growth and progress in India, and showcase the various investment opportunities that wait to be tapped in the country. After all, as the Prime Minister often observes, members of the Indian diaspora are the best ambassadors for their homeland.

In 2019, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was rescheduled to coincide with the Kumbh Mela, to provide an opportunity to the expatriates to reconnect with their culture and heritage. This turned out to be a boon for many, as they witnessed the cultural hues of the world’s largest ever religious congregation with pride.

Unlike his predecessors who would limit their visits to formal receptions at respective Indian embassies, PM Narendra Modi has engaged with huge crowds across the spectrum. It was a first when Indians in huge numbers attended an event of the Prime Minister in New York. Later, in almost every country with a sizable Indian diaspora, PM Narendra Modi has held huge interactions with them, letting them know that they are valued.

When speaking of the Indian diaspora, a picture that many often miss is that of the hardworking Indians who work in many countries in West Asia. However, PM Narendra Modi has ensured that their concerns are taken care of as well.

Before PM Narendra Modi, Prime Ministerial visits often meant meeting a select few, but on a visit to Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister was seen sharing a meal with Indian workers, a welcome sight that also conveyed to them that their homeland stood with them. This has not remained merely symbolic.

For example, PM Narendra Modi took up the cases of Indians who were serving sentences for minor offences in Saudi Arabia with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2016. The Saudi Government agreed to look at the cases sympathetically and constitute a review mechanism with immediate effect. India also signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with Saudi Arabia for the welfare of the Indian blue-collared workers. Recently, in February 2019, at the request of PM Narendra Modi, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners lodged in Saudi Arabian jails.

Operation Raahat was launched in 2015 to evacuate Indian citizens from Yemen. This was hailed as a successful operation by the international community as India not only evacuated 4,748 Indians but also 1,962 foreign nationals belonging to various countries across the world. This is an India that assures every Indian national abroad of help in times of distress.

 

2014 onwards, concerted efforts at the highest level to engage with the diaspora have ensured that their role is not limited to just movies or books. Further, the e-Migrate system in tandem with 2014 Minimum Referral Wages seeks to ensure safe and sound working conditions for Indians working abroad.

In 2015, after PM Modi met Barack Obama, the then US President announced the Indian Diaspora Investment Initiative to assist Indian Americans to invest in India.

It is notable that the diaspora has also responded to PM’s outreach in both, tangible and intangible ways.

India was the top recipient of remittances in the world in 2017 and is widely expected to have retained that spot in 2018 as well.

Outstanding NRI deposits were USD 70,822 million in 2013. It grew by 78.2% to USD 126,182 million in 2018. The growth in deposits reflects the increased confidence of NRIs in India as an investment destination.

 

Year

USD Million

2013

 70,822

2014

103,844

2015

115,163

2016

126,929

2017

116,867

2018

126,182

 

The Indian diaspora, today, feels a part of India’s phenomenal growth story. They are helping India in building mutually beneficial linkages, and strategically shift the opinion of the world towards India as a nation with global presence and influence.

 

March 27, 2019