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Role of Indian Diaspora in Making India Self-Reliant (9 January 2021)

Role of Indian Diaspora in Making India Self-Reliant (9 January 2021)


Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 16th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas convention on Saturday.


Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is observed on January 9th every year to mark the contribution of the Overseas Indian community in the development of India.

On this day in 1915, Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, which led India's freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

Its format was revised in 2015 to celebrate the PBD once every two years and also to hold theme-based PBD Conferences during the interim period with participation from overseas diaspora experts, policymakers and stakeholders.

Therefore, January 9 was selected as the day to celebrate this occasion.

Summary of the Debate

Indian diaspora:

  • India is top receiver of all the financial remittances into the country.
  • Almost 13 percent of the global remittances that come from non-residents come to India.
  • As per Global Migration Report 2020, India has the world’s largest diaspora, about 17.5 million and receives the highest remittance of $78.6 billion from Indians living abroad.
  • Close to 3 percent of India’s GDP come from remittances come from overseas Indians and largely this comes from countries like US, UK, Canada, Australia, etc.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2021:

  • This year, the theme of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is "Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat".
  • Addressing the event, PM told Indians across the world that they are connected in minds because of 'Maa Bharti' and lauded the efforts of the overseas Indians in fighting the challenges last year.
  • He assured the Indian diaspora that the country always stands with them, while mentioning that over 45 lakh people were repatriated under the Vande Bharat mission during the pandemic.
  • The Prime Minister said the lessons learnt by India during the pandemic have become an inspiration for the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, and this movement for self-reliance is meant to help others as “Made in India” products and solutions will benefit the world. In this regard, he spoke about the two “Made in India” coronavirus vaccines.
  • He said India will continue to play its role as the world’s pharmacy and protect humanity from Covid-19, adding that the world is not only waiting for India’s vaccine, but everyone is watching how India runs the world’s largest vaccination programme.
  • So as India moves forward with its self-reliance initiative, what role can the Indian diaspora play in making Brand India stronger.

Prominent role played by Indian diaspora in different countries:

  • Almost 1.8 percent of UK population comprises of Indian diaspora and they themselves and by the virtue of the companies that they run in the UK contribute about almost 6 percent of the GDP of the country.
  • India is the second largest investor in UK.
  • In political way, in USA or even the UK, the Indians have a voice and they are in a very key positions, they are ministers, for example in UK, several ministers are there of Indian origin, there are several ministers of Indian origin in Canadian government.
  • Large number of companies in foreign countries have Indian CEOs, be it Mastercard, Adobe, IBM, Google, etc.
  • In covid situation, the number of people of Indian origin who serve as epidemiologists, doctors, virologists, healthcare specialists all across the world.
  • In Africa, 25 percent of GDP of Kenya held by 40,000 Indian families. Uganda’s only billionaire is a person of Indian origin. Half the richest man of Madagascar is of Indian origin.

India’s engagement with Diaspora:

  • PM interaction: Whenever PM travels abroad at least there is one major engagement with the Indian diaspora that happens all the time.
  • RISHTA Portal: Ministry of External Affairs is launching a new portal called RISHTA, where the primary objective would be to connect Inia as a country and to respond and it will be a participative dialogue and discussion with the NRIs or people of Indian origin settled in different parts of the world.
  • VAIBHAV Summit: Last year, India held a conference of all the Indian origin scientists from nearly 70 countries, it was called Vaishwik BharatiyaVaigyanik (VAIBHAV) Summit and there they get submitted about 80 projects.
  • Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2017: The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2017 extends the facility of ‘proxy voting’ to overseas Indians and it would help non-resident Indians to participate in the electoral process.
  • Know India Program (KIP) Initiative: Know India Program (KIP) familiarizes Indian-origin youth (18-30 years) with their Indian roots and contemporary India.
  • VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty) scheme: Which seeks to formalise a rotation program wherein top NRI scientists, engineers, doctors, managers and professionals serve Indian public sector organizations.


  • More than half of China’s FDI come from people of Chinese origin from different part of the world from Chinese diaspora in different part of the countries, but in India, the remittances are high but the investments are not as good, they constitute much smaller part of the FDI.
  • The Indian diaspora wanted to participate in Indian growth story but 76 percent of them said that they have invested in India through one or more instruments like equity, debt, real estate, FDI, etc. Whereas only 12.7 percent said that they have any business interest in India. So, that shows that there is a greater window there where they can come and invest.
  • Nearly, 90 percent of them said that they are not aware of various schemes that has been launched.
  • Red tapism, multiple clearances, distrust of government are acting as hindrances in fulfilling opportunities presented by Indian Diaspora.
  • There has been an increase in the incidents of suspected hate crimes against the Indian community in various countries.

Way Forward:

  • It is important that our communication system with the diaspora have to step up as far as the embassies are concerned.
  • India needs to provide them the right kind of opportunity, the right kind of projects, the areas India want and then our embassies can follow up.
  • Indian embassy should have a group of advisors from the key members of the diaspora and keep talking to them on regular basis.
  • Africa and Central Asia is now in many ways both strategically and economically become a point of contention between India and Chinese to some degree. So, India needs to be more looking at those group of diaspora population.
  • Improvement in ease of doing business will enable investments from the Indian diaspora.

Important points made by the Guests

Jayant Krishna, Group Executive Officer, UK India Business Council

  • During covid time, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is getting manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, it is a classic example where research and development happened in one country but the manufacturing is happening in India.
  • Rolls Royce talking about the co-creation and co-development of light combat aircraft engine in India.
  • JCB’s largest manufacturing base is in India and not just for the captive use, but from Indian operations they export equipment to all over the world.
  • De La Rue are prepared to transfer technology for security features enabled currency note printing in India.
  • Initially, there were some apprehension that Aatmnirbhar Bharat will isolate the Indian economy from the rest of the world but PM has talked about it time and again that it means the greater integration of Indian economy with the global economy.

Anil Trigunayat, Former Ambassador

  • Covid-19 has dictated to the world and especially to India that we need to work towards health, towards habitat and hunger, and for all these, it is also absolutely essential that in critical areas, you acquire a certain kind of self-reliance.
  • It also gives us that we were nowhere in the part of the global value and supply chain. So, the self-reliance principle was changed in a way so that we acquire efficiencies that will eventually be plugged into the plug and in this context, the theme of this year’s PVD is ‘Contributing to Aatmnirbhar Bharat’ and how the diaspora which has always been a critical player whenever we have tried to cross the threshold.
  • In Information Technology in which India due to the assistance of the overseas Indians that we have become today a knowledge economy for IT superpower. Therefore, when we are moving towards AI driven industrial revolution 4.0, the role of the diaspora becomes equally important.

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Affairs Editor, Hindustan Times

  • By making the OCI and PIO system more streamlined, merging them together and making it easier for people of India origin to both receive the card and more importantly to get some economic advantages from some owning those cards.
  • While in initial phase, Indians were serving as bridges between Silicon Valley and Bangalore in 1980s and 1990s. It was in many ways the basis of the modern IT sector in India.
  • Now, Indians have become prominent businessmen, corporate leaders in many western countries, notably in Britain, USA as well as big players in the financial sector.
  • This means that they can now act as bridges for investment in greenfield, brownfield manufacturing which they did not do before and increasingly also for bringing in financial investments whether portfolio or otherwise in to the country.


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