India boasts of the largest population of overseas diaspora in the world since 2010. There are about 32 million NRIs and PIOs including OCIs residing outside India. Each year around 2.5 million Indians migrate overseas. Over 87,000 persons opted for foreign citizenship in the first half of 2023, which is the highest ever in 12 years, as per the Ministry of External Affairs.
Indian Diaspora Dispersal
If we look at the number of India-born migrants, 2.7 million are in America. Over 835,000 Indian migrants are in Britain, 720,000 in Canada, and 579,000 in Australia. Besides, there are 3.5 million Indian migrants in the UAE and 2.5 million in Saudi Arabia. Other significant populations can be found in Africa and other parts of Asia and the Caribbean.
Migration waves have been noted since 1947, when we got freedom from the Britishers. It first started during and in the aftermath of World War II. Initially, workers from Gujarat and Punjab went to Britain. Later many also went to eastern Africa when it was colonized.
The United States of America attracted maximum talented individuals by overhauling its immigration laws in 1965. This eased the entry of Indian nationals. Later Australia and Canada followed similar regulations. South Indians formed the majority of the educated migrates. This is evident in the fact that the American consulate in the southern city of Hyderabad is the largest outpost that America has in southern Asia. Notably the fastest-growing Indian language in America is Telugu. About 73% of America’s H-1B visas were given to Indians in 2022.
The Diasporic Ascent
Remarkably, Indians are the highest-earning migrant group in the United States of America, with a median household income of almost $150,000 annually, they rank quite higher than other. Likewise, Australia has the median household income among Indian migrants worth $87,000/year.
Not just this, Adobe, Alphabet, Google’s corporate parent, IBM and Microsoft are led by people of Indian descent. About three of the five deans in top business schools, including Harvard Business School, are also of the same descent.
A total of 19 people of Indian heritage are present in Britain’s House of Commons, including the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Similarly, 6 are in the Australian parliament and 5 in America’s Congress. Even America’s Vice President, Kamala Harris, has a Tamil mother. Recently, Ajay Banga who is originally from Pune was chosen to lead the World Bank last month after running MasterCard for more than a decade.
India’s inward remittances reached $108 billion in 2022, around 3% of GDP, highest in the world.
How PM Modi Has Become A Bridge Between India And Its Diaspora
PM Narendra Modi’s tenure has brought the migrants and foreign born Indians much closer to India than ever. This was evident when ahead of the 2014 general election more than 8,000 overseas Indians from Britain and America flew to India to join his campaign. This was accompanied by text messages and social media support. PM Modi is loved across nations.
There was a rally for the Indian diaspora held at a 21,000-seat stadium when he visited Australia. In his speech, Modi called Indian-Australians as a “living bridge” between the two countries. The most magnificent of all was a rally by 18,000 diasporic people at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014 and a “Howdy Modi” rally by 50,000 in Houston back in 2019. His recent state visit to the US to meet Joe Biden was flooded with programs and crowds of the diaspora as well.
No other Indian PM rallied the diaspora with so much effect and at such a huge scale, the reason being his approach. Modi was the first to affirm their identity rather than blaming them for brain drain. He called them the “brand ambassadors” of India.