Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South East Asian countries' economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South-East Asia in this context.

India has been very close to the South East Asian region right from the time of Cholas. There have been evidences of historical cultural, economic and trade linkages between the regions. There are lot of Indians in the South East Asian region who contribute a lot to the society and the economy. The South East Asia is also important both economically and strategically for India as it accounts for about 10.2% of overall Indian trade.

Contribution of Indian diaspora in the region:

  1. In Malaysia and Myanmar, almost all important spheres of life like the civil services, education, professional services, trade and commerce are largely in the hands of the Indian community. The Indian community’s contribution to Malaysia’s GDP is about 2% and its share in Malaysia’s international trade is about 3%.
  2. In Singapore there is good representation of Indians in the Judiciary, executive and legislative spheres. Part of Singapore’s IT industry today is being fueled by Indian expertise. There is also a significant Indian contribution to scientific research including in bio-technology and medicine.
  3. In Philippines and Indonesia, members of the Indian Community have played a prominent role in the export of textile products – which has powered their economy in the recent past. The Sikhs, Tamils and Sindhis engage in various businesses in the region.
  4. In Brunei, apart from running businesses mini-marts and small restaurants, Indians have filled up human resources vacuum – thus making an important contribution to its economy.
  5. The Indian cinema and Ayurveda also has a great impact on the South East Asia.

ASEAN is India’s 4th largest trading partner. With northeast becoming a bridge to the region and India’s push to the Act east policy, the region becomes very important. The Indian diaspora has the unique ability to integrate itself with the local community in a good way while serving as a bridge to India’s heritage and culture. They are making significant contributions to the region and ensures a strong relation between India and the south east Asian countries.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South East Asian countries' economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South-East Asia in this context. (Answer in 250 words)

Published: October 30, 2017 | Modified:August 15, 2020

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