In the last few years, Indian government has qualitatively and quantitatively enriched engagement with the Indian Diaspora. Has it set on a new trend in India's foreign policy also? Discuss.

Published: September 21, 2017

Diaspora refers to people who have migrated from Indian territories to other countries. Currently India has 2nd largest diaspora in the world with 25 million people living in different countries. Largest concentration is in countries like U.K, U.S.A, Middle East etc.

  1. India’s policy towards diaspora after independence was marked by non-engagement, where emigrants had to fend for themselves.
  2. The policy began to change from 1980s when role of diaspora was recognized, emigrants like Sam Pitroda were invited to play a major role in technological development.
  3. Ministry of Overseas Indians was established in 2004, dedicated to millions of Indians abroad.
  4. Government started organizing Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas from 2003 to celebrate the achievements and contributions of diaspora by instituting Pravasia Bharatiya Samman.
  5. India has been expanding its engagement with Diaspora and extending support in time of crisis like Operation Sankat Mochan for evacuation of Indians from South Sudan.
  6. Prime Minister has been engaging with diaspora during his foreign visits to lend an ear to their problems for example at Madison Square in USA.
  7. Merger of Overseas Citizen of India Card and Person of Indian Origin card has simplified the rules and allows for visa free travel to India for both the card holders..
  8. Schemes like VAJRA have been launched so that diaspora can play an important role in scientific research and development in India.
  9. Recently government has cleared way for proxy voting by NRIs allowing them to exercise their franchise easily . Decision will bring the concerns of diaspora in manifesto of political parties.

Diaspora are set to play an important role in India’s Soft diplomacy. Government needs to be more proactive in safeguarding interest of diaspora in foreign land in wake of recent hate crimes, restrictive employment policies, human right violations in middle east countries.

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