The Indian diaspora, numbering over 31 million according to the Ministry of External Affairs (as of 2020), has a strong presence worldwide, particularly in the West. Their achievements, both economically and politically, have cultivated significant benefits for India.
- Remittances: India remains one of the top recipients of remittances globally. In 2019, India received close to $83 billion in remittances, a considerable portion of which came from the Indian diaspora in Western countries.
- Investment Channels: Many Indians in the West have established themselves as entrepreneurs and business magnates. They invest in Indian startups, industries, and education sectors. For instance, ventures like the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) work towards boosting investment in both countries.
- Technology and Knowledge Transfer: The significant number of Indian professionals in Silicon Valley and tech companies worldwide often facilitate knowledge sharing, skill development, and technological advancements in India. Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, both of Indian origin, are prime examples.
- Tourism Promotion: The diaspora plays a role in promoting India as a tourist destination, thereby boosting tourism revenue. Festivals, cultural events, and diaspora-driven promotions increase India’s visibility as a vibrant cultural destination.
- Diplomatic Leverage: A thriving Indian community in countries like the US, Canada, and the UK often acts as a soft power tool. Their achievements and contributions provide India with an influential voice in these countries’ policies.
- Political Representation: Indians have made significant inroads in Western political systems. Leaders like Kamala Harris (Vice President of the US), Rishi Sunak (UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer), and Nikki Haley (former US Ambassador to the UN) exemplify the increasing political clout of the Indian diaspora.
- Cross-cultural Diplomacy: The diaspora acts as a bridge, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation. Events like the ‘Howdy Modi’ in Houston, 2019, attended by over 50,000 people, emphasize the role of the diaspora in fostering India-US relations.
- Lobbying for Indian Interests: The diaspora actively lobbies for India’s interests, be it regarding bilateral trade agreements, strategic partnerships, or matters related to international institutions.
- Promotion of Indian Culture: The diaspora’s active engagement in cultural events, festivals, and academic dialogues in the West boosts India’s soft power. The celebration of Diwali in the White House or the annual Yoga Day events worldwide is testament to their influence.
The Indian diaspora’s achievements in the West aren’t just a matter of individual pride but collectively boost India’s stature on the global stage. Their contributions, spanning economic investments to political engagements, act as significant pillars supporting India’s international ambitions and reinforcing ties with Western nations.