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Diaspora Outreach and the Value of Statesmanship

Context

The Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s speech in Japan and Singapore in May 2023 emphasised the state of Tamil Nadu’s commitment to safeguarding and assisting the Tamil diaspora.

Relevance: 

GS Paper 2: Indian Diaspora

Mains Question

Explain the idea of statesmanship and its importance in addressing problems with the Indian diaspora with a focus on fostering collaboration between the federal government and state governments. (150 words)


An overview of the Tamil diaspora

  • Tamil diaspora makes up a sizeable component of the Indian diaspora globally. Many nations, including Australia, Canada, the United States, and European nations, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, and South Africa, have a sizable Tamil population.
  • The diaspora has three identities: Tamil, Indian, and that of the nation in where they were raised. The hopes and challenges experienced by the Tamil diaspora are shaped by migratory patterns, educational attainment, professional accomplishments, economic power, and dynamics of majority-minority populations in host countries.
  • The Tamil diaspora has made notable contributions to a number of sectors, including politics, economics, literature, the arts, sports, and science.

Impact of Host Country Policies:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru faced obstacles in his efforts to preserve the unity and safety of Indians overseas.
  • The first law passed in Ceylon following independence had an impact on the Indian Tamils who the British had sent there to work on the tea plantations.
  • Citizenship should be granted to people who regarded Ceylon as their home, according to Nehru. Tamils from India lost their right to vote as a result of Ceylon’s defence of its sovereign right to enact citizenship laws.
  • Similar to how Burmese Indian Tamils were treated, they were expelled and subjected to harsh measures afterward. India’s actions occasionally jeopardised the interests of the Indian diaspora in its bilateral dealings with its neighbours.
  • A significant example is the Sirimavo-Shastri Pact of 1964, which divided the Indian Tamil minority between India and Sri Lanka over objections from powerful figures in the Madras Presidency.

The Importance of Preserving the Tamil Language:

It is important to note Chief Minister Stalin’s emphasis on preserving and advancing the Tamil language. However, it is worrying that the Tamil community has lost connection with the Tamil language, a crucial component of Tamil culture, in many nations.

Collaboration between State and Central Governments:

  • While diaspora policies are solely the purview of the federal government, state governments have some influence over them through mobilising the people.Between the national government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and state governments, like the DMK administration in Tamil Nadu, it is critical to promote unity and friendliness. Cooperation is crucial rather than using aggressive tactics.

Addressing Citizenship Issues:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which excludes Sri Lanka because of racial tensions that have led many Tamils there to flee persecution, might have added the phrase “persecuted minorities,” raising questions about this omission.
  • New Delhi supports the refugees’ return to Sri Lanka and views them as illegal immigrants. These refugees, however, are interested in obtaining Indian citizenship and meet the residency requirements specified in the Indian Citizenship Act.29,500 Indian Tamil refugees who are stateless highlight the need for a peaceful resolution. Refugees from Sri Lanka who are Tamil are even willing to give up their citizenship in return for Indian citizenship.

Diaspora’s Impact on a Country’s Development

  • The Indian diaspora is the world’s biggest abroad population, with about 18 million people of Indian descent and 13 million non-resident Indians.
  • Indian diaspora’s demographics and geographic spread offer a fantastic opportunity to advance the nation’s soft power and cultural diplomacy abroad.
  • India has the largest emigrant population in the world, followed by Mexico, Russia, and China, according to the International Organisation for Migration’s World Migration Report.

Diaspora contribution:

  • International Representation: Diasporas act as a source of national pride and represent their nation on a worldwide scale, enhancing its influence and reputation abroad.
  • Economic Contribution: Emigrants make large financial, real estate, service, and technology investments in their native nations. These investments support local economic expansion, employment creation, and general economic progress.
  • Remittances: The Indian diaspora, in particular, is extremely important when it comes to remittances, which have a significant influence on socio-economic growth, the eradication of poverty, and consumption trends in rural regions.
  • Technology Transfer: Through investments and partnerships, diasporas living in technologically advanced nations help transfer technology and innovation to their home countries, advancing and progressing technology.
  • Diplomacy: Vast emigrant populations are advantageous for diplomacy since they encourage inter-personal interactions and strengthen international ties. The Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal is one instance that shows how diasporas may successfully advocate for their country’s interests.
  • Cultural Promotion: Diasporas aid in the dissemination of the native cultures and customs of their home countries, which encourages the export of local foods and goods. This thus opens up potential for investment to meet local preferences and tastes in the host countries.
  • Political Influence: Diasporas have a considerable impact on the politics and policies of the nations they live in, representing the interests of their home countries and promoting goodwill among nations.
  • Bilateral Relations: As diasporas take on significant roles in high-ranking positions in their host countries, like in the UK and the USA, they help to enhance economic relations and promote deeper bilateral ties.
  • The exclusion of less wealthy groups, job losses due to low oil prices, ongoing discriminatory practises, inconsistent support, retention of dual citizenship, abuse of remittances, brain drain in research and development, and policies favouring foreign labour are just a few of the difficulties brought on by the diaspora.
  • In order to meet the demands of the Indian diaspora, the government has put in place a number of initiatives. Among them are the creation of a separate Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the holding of Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas to recognise their contributions, the implementation of welfare programmes like Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana, the Know India Programme for youth from diaspora, the Overseas Citizenship of India Scheme offering certain benefits, the “Tracing the Roots” initiative, the Swarnapravas Yojana for skill development, and the signing of These steps are intended to offer all-around assistance and promote deeper ties with the Indian diaspora.

Way Forward

Broadening participation in diaspora conventions, streamlining immigration laws, facilitating foreign investment, addressing the needs of blue-collar workers, fostering inclusive diplomacy, emphasising tourism among second-generation PIOs, defending the rights of Indian women who are married to NRIs/PIOs, utilising diaspora professionals for economic development, and luring NRI/PIO investments through infrastructure bonds are all necessary steps in the right direction. India needs to make the most of its extensive diaspora’s financial and intellectual resources.

Conclusion

State governments must work with the federal government and prioritise statesmanship over political opportunism in order to preserve the interests of the Indian diaspora. The national and state governments must work together, have a sense of unity, and be cordial. This calls for addressing the difficulties the diaspora faces, safeguarding their cultural heritage, and resolving citizenship problems.


June 2024
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