Q. The Indian diaspora are a crucial component of the soft power exercised by the State. Evaluate the role of Indian diaspora in light of the given statement.
A. Foreign policy, to put it in simple terms, is a tool through which a country interacts with the other countries of the world to promote and safeguard its interests and to establish friendly ties. To deal with the challenges and to effectively implement foreign policy we use traditional diplomacy along with economic, cultural, diaspora, public and digital diplomacy. India has a huge arsenal of soft power assets, based on its ancient civilization and cultural heritage, including yoga & spirituality, Bollywood, principles of non-violence, traditional medicine (Ayurveda), tourism, democracy, education, healthcare, etc. One of its crucial components is India‟s diaspora. In fact, Yashwant Sinha terms Indian diaspora as “the biggest instrument of our soft power.” Importance of
The Indian diaspora had been an unacknowledged and neglected player in India‟s cultural diplomacy for long but their contribution and immense leverage in local communities and governments has been recognized in recent years and the Indian government has put in place a slew of measures to connect with the diaspora and make them partners in India‟s growth story and in its international relations.
The Indian diaspora constitutes the second largest diaspora in the world after the Chinese. India‟s 27 million strong diaspora is spread in over 136 countries and is very diverse, with a mix of people who have migrated for vastly different reasons and includes the „old‟ diaspora (slaves/indentured workers/ Girmitiyas & traders, from the 17th to the early 20th century) and their descendants, and after independence, the „new‟ diaspora (highly skilled to US and Europe and semi skilled/unskilled to the Gulf & SE Asia) & their descendants
The diaspora have sent regular remittances, made investments, lobbied for India on crucial issues, promoted Indian culture and, in general, created a positive image of India and Indians through their intelligence, hard work and entrepreneurial attributes, adding to India‟s brand value
The “old” diaspora, cut off from its roots, was a key repository of India‟s cultural traditions, in their original forms, and their descendants are very active in organising and promoting Indian dance and music performances in the host countries along with holding regular dance, music and yoga classes, which are quite popular. The Indian diaspora, with its distinctive culture, has contributed to a vibrant and multi cultural, multi lingual society in host countries, whether in the UK, US or in Mauritius and the Caribbean countries
The knowledge, which Indian diaspora carries with them to the visiting countries especially, in case of professional migration or the post-colonial migration in the western developed countries, clearly indicates the claim of India to become a knowledge super power very soon in this twenty ﬁrst century. India regarded, as a knowledge house and its engineers, doctors, scientists and software professionals have easy acceptability by the international community number of foreign policy successes in recent years as in the case of setting up of the India caucus in the US Congress and signing of the India-US nuclear.
Indian Diaspora and relationship with India
With the realization of the importance of the diaspora, new government policies were formulated to involve the Indian diaspora in economic development and in return their needs and aspirations have been recognized and appropriate policy responses have been put in place, which included setting up of a separate Ministry in 2003, (since merged with the Ministry for External affairs), granting of PIO and OCI cards, (since merged), giving virtually dual citizenship, a long standing demand of the diaspora.
Other measures put in place included instituting the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), Bharitya Pravasi Samman Award, national pension scheme for NRIs, corporate internships for diaspora youth, Know India and Study India programmes, scholarships for diaspora youth, etc. were a recognition of the importance of, and contributions, of the diaspora and to help reconnect the young with India
The Indian government, headed by PM Modi has made diaspora diplomacy a central part of his foreign policy and on his visits abroad, PM has made it a point to address the diaspora community in each country, outlining India‟s needs and priorities and urging the diaspora to invest in India. The PM has thus tried to harness the energy and assets of the Indian diaspora and exhorted every India/Indian origin person, to be an informal ambassador for India; to contribute money, time and expertise to the various ﬂagship schemes of the government like the Swachh Bharat or Clean India campaign, Clean Ganga Mission, building rural toilets etc Indian diaspora remains an under-utilised tool of our soft power. Our diaspora, both in the developed and in the developing world play an equally important role in India‟s cultural diplomacy efforts. N.K. Singh correctly remarks that initiatives of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs need innovation and restructuring to better harness the energies of Indian diaspora.