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India’s Diaspora | Project PRAYAS

  • Context (MEA): The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched Project PRAYAS (Promoting Regular & Assisted Migration for Youth and Skilled Professionals) in partnership with Ministry of External Affairs.
  • It is a joint collaboration between the IOM India and Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
  • It envisages development of a roadmap for improved coordination between Central and State Governments to encourage sharing of best practices between States and enhanced engagement with the MEA on matters related to the international migration cycle.
  • The project adheres to the objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF).
  • It also aligns with Goal 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to facilitate orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people.

Indian Diaspora

  • It encompasses people who can trace their origins to India or are Indian citizens living abroad, temporarily or permanently.
  • The Diaspora constitutes Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) or Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) which reflects the rich social, ethnic, religious, and cultural tapestry of India.
  • India has a 32 million-strong diaspora with UAE, USA, Saudi Arabia hosting the largest Diaspora.
  • Indian Diaspora contributes largest remittance flow in world – Nearly $80 Billion (3% of Indian GDP).

Role of Diaspora in making India Self Reliant

  • Promoted the concept of ‘Indianness’: From Bollywood celebrities endorsing Indian fashion on global red carpets to Indian chefs popularizing Indian cuisines in international culinary scenes, Indian diaspora has seamlessly integrated into societies worldwide.
  • Leveraging Diaspora Investment: Real-world instances of diaspora investments can be seen in successful startups, innovative entrepreneurial ventures, and advancements in technology.
  • Promotes GoI idea of ‘Vocal for Local’: E.g., the preference for Indian tea brands, embrace of Indian textiles by fashion influencers abroad contribute to building trust in Indian products globally.
  • Source of remittances accounting for 13% of global remittances & 3% of country’s GDP.
  • Leveraging Diaspora Diplomacy: From Sundar Pichai, Har Gobind Khoran to Political figures like Kamala Harris acting as a tool of Soft power in the era of Hard power by influencing policy matters.
  • Role in Research & Innovation: The Indian diaspora can act as ‘living bridges’ to make India self-reliant in next generation technologies. E.g. Vaibhav Summit.

Challenges faced by Indian Diaspora

  • Heterogeneous Nature with Differential needs demanding differential support from Government. E.g. Welfare measures by Gulf Diaspora, Investment opportunities by Diaspora in wealthier nations.
  • Regulatory Cholesterol & Bureaucratic Hurdles like red tape, multiple clearances, corruption, etc. discourages diaspora to collaborate with India or to invest in the country.
  • Protectionism measures by host countries: Due to the global slowdown, unemployment worldwide, the restriction on immigration has impacted Indians. E.g. “Nitaqat” policy of Saudi Arabia.
  • Disturbances in the Middle West: Shia-Sunni conflict, sudden eruption of violence as seen during Hamas Israel conflict presenting challenge of sudden evacuation from turbulent regions.
  • Other threats: Racism and religious discrimination, social isolation, exploitation from local employers (for e.g. Kafala System in Gulf countries) etc.

Way Forward

  • Organizing Programmes on lines of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to engage with them, update them on the policies and celebrate their achievements.
  • Grievance redressal mechanism for effective resolution of grievances of the Diaspora.
  • Effective investment options for diaspora via Infrastructure Bonds tailored to attract NRI/PIO investments, drawing inspiration from the Israel Bonds model.
  • Promoting ease of doing business to tap diaspora’s contribution to Self-Reliant India.
  • Effective outreach to communicate GoI policies and programmes to build greater confidence among the diasporas.
  • Other measures: Addressing problems of blue-collar workers working overseas, focus on promoting tourism among 2nd generation PIOs, etc.

GoI Initiatives for Indian Diaspora

  • Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) to support Indian nationals in crisis situations abroad.
  • Madad Portal for online lodging of grievance for emigrants & Social security through Pravasi Suraksha Yojna.
  • SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) to conduct skill mapping of the returning citizens under the Vande Bharat Mission.
  • Vande Bharat Mission for repatriation of Indian diaspora during COVID, and Operation Raahat and Sankat Mochan for evacuation of people stuck in conflict zones etc.
  • Global Pravasi Rishta Portal, Vaibhav (Vaishwik Bharatiya Vaigyanik) Summit, Know India Programme, Tracing Roots, Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana etc for better engagement with Diaspora.


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