If there was a time ever a time for the Indian diaspora to play a major role it is now. Indians who were taken as indentured labour to sugar plantations in Mauritius, West Indies, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, Zanzibar, Fiji and beyond from 1833 onwards were essentially a part of the system that transported Indians to different colonies of European powers. Cut to 2017: Global Indians form a formidable 30 million spread across 200 nations and have tremendous political and economic clout.
The forlorn Indian worker in some remote sugar plantation is replaced by a highly skilled worker who is most sought after by fortune 5000 companies, universities, research institutes and countries who badly need expertise.
The Indian diaspora is shining brightly but is India leveraging their expertise and acumen? Not enough. A lot has been written on the $69 billion remittances received in 2015 and not to forget the large chunk of the Kerala economy depends on foreign remittances.
Remittances apart, a strategy to make Global Indians invest in India, collaborate with scientific institutions and see a potential in the India growth story is what is needed.
“World’s keenness to engage with India has risen. Our diaspora can play a vital role in furthering India’s engagement with the world”.
– PM Narendra Modi
A mere one per cent of Non-Resident Indians contribute to 3.4 per cent of India’s GDP without even living in India. If even a part of the one per cent invests in India, they would do a world of good. Most NRIs have an ineffable emotion with India and most want to do something. Some do not know where to start and how to go about, while others fear going through mundane Indian government offices and few more need a push.
What is needed is a strategy to woo these emotionally bonded NRIs to come back and invest. Invest in not just run-of-the-mill businesses but in state-of-the-art technological services, IT, hardcore research, medical research and space sciences.
Another segment of investors who have made money but are not in the fields of science and technology could be made to invest in healthcare, tourism, clothing and hospitality. There are at least close to a few lakhs of Indians who visit India regularly. Even a simple survey of what India needs in terms of development in hospitality sector can throw multiple business ideas.
Some 150 plus years ago, impoverished Indians were huddled in ships and sent to work as slaves, their progeny today are calling the shots in Fiji, Caribbean Islands, Malaysia, Mauritius and other countries. Many have outgrown the yoke of the colonisers. The ineffable emotion of the Indian diaspora just needs to be kindled for a fillip to Indian growth story.