Indian diaspora comprises 6.4 pc of the total global migrant population with United Arab Emirates (UAE) being the top destination of Indian migrants followed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Oman.
The United Nations has officially declared that Indian diaspora is the largest in the world with more than 17.5 million Indians living abroad. According to the International Migrant Stock 2019 released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the overseas Indian community makes up a little more than six percent of the 272 million-strong global migrant community.
“The estimates are based on official national statistics on the foreign born or the foreign population obtained from population censuses, population registered or nationally representative surveys,” the UN said in a statement.
The report also said that the top 10 countries of origin account for one-third of all international migrants. Mexico-origin migrants constituted the second largest diaspora with 11.8 million followed by China (10.7 million).
Indian diaspora in America is a four million strong community with an increase of 38 pc between 2011 and 2017. Even the Indian-American gathering of 50,000-strong crowd in Houston at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event is three times the crowd that turned up at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 Madison Square Garden rally had told the crowd, “You play a key role in shaping a positive image of India not just in America but also around the world.” He feels the diaspora abroad is an asset and their power should be utilized for the growth of India as well as his own image as seen by the response to the recent Houston event.
According to a 2018 World Bank report, India retained its position of receiving the highest remittances last year with NRIs sending as much as USD 80 billion back to their homeland. The report showed that inward remittances are on a steady rise. In 2016, remittances made for USD 62.7 billion and in 2017, the value stood at USD 65.3 billion.
While Indian-American diaspora community is a powerful unit, it is the NRIs living in Gulf countries who are making meaningful contribution to the country in terms of economy. Every month, the millions of NRIs who live in the Gulf remit huge amounts as foreign exchange into their accounts in India. These amounts are sent in order to support their families and to invest in the country’s real estate sector, equities and other financial instruments.
Without these remittances, India’s balance of payment position would have looked worse. More than 53 pc of the USD 70 billion received annually by India is contributed by the Indian diaspora in the Gulf, many of whom are unskilled and semi-skilled workers, employed in low-paying jobs, bound by stifling contracts and living in over-crowded shelters.
Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul said, “In the last two decades, Indians have made a mark professionally in fields like IT, engineering, medicine and chartered accountancy. Therefore, they have become professionals of choice in many countries, helping to build the global economy.”
“The UAE is a prime example of that. Thanks to the support of the leadership and the security and stability provided by the UAE, so many Indians are happily working here as professionals or are doing business. We have a vibrant and diverse community with people from every state of India,” he added.
On a different note, India hosted 5.1 million international migrants in 2019, less than the 5.2 million in 2015. As a share of total population, the proportion of international migrants in India was steady at 0.4 pc in 2010-2019.