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Mains Answer Writing

5-April-2024

Q1) The relevance of diaspora as a tool to further the country’s national interest is immense; however, a number of challenges limit the realization of its true potential. Elucidate.

(150 Words/10 Marks)

Diaspora is defined as the population of a source country scattered across the world. Indian diaspora – the biggest in the world at 18 million – is an important part of the societies in host countries around the world from UK to Mauritius and USA to Japan.

Indian diaspora’s significance in furthering the country’s national interest is as follows:

  1. Remittances: Indian diaspora make India the world’s biggest recipient of remittances at $100 billion (2022).
  2. Indian diaspora helps to positively influence host countries’ foreign policy vis-a-vis India.

E.g., Indian diaspora successfully lobbied for the India-USA Civil Nuclear Agreement in USA.

  1. Indians as CEOs, doctors, law-abiding citizens in other countries promote positive stereotype about Indians as they act as India’s cultural ambassadors. The diversity of Indian diaspora (Sikhs, Hindus, Jews etc.) reflects the plurality at home, projecting India as a peaceful and plural society.
  2. Diaspora has deepened the connection between host countries and India through creation of economic interdependencies.

E.g., migration of less-skilled labour to West Asia has helped build infrastructure in host countries while bringing down disguised unemployment in India.

  1. The old Indian diaspora is a source of cultural connections between India and small island countries across the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

E.g., in countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Seychelles, Guyana etc.

  1. Cultural exports: Diaspora has helped in the export of India’s cultural products like Indian cuisines, Indian movies, Yoga etc.

E.g., popularity of chicken tikka masala in UK, Bollywood in USA and Tamil movies in Malaysia.

However, there are certain limitations of diaspora as source of soft power such as:

  1. Elements of Indian diaspora are misused to harm India’s interest and image.

E.g., the attacks on Indian embassies in Canada, UK; Punjab Referendum 2020 in UK etc.

  1. The vulnerability of diaspora in Gulf countries due to poor and unregulated service conditions and lack of citizenship requires protective role from the Indian state.

E.g., Kafala and Nitaqat systems.

  1. The internal politics of the host-countries makes Indian diaspora vulnerable reducing ability to extend India’s interests.

E.g., anti-migrant politics, issue of H1-B visas in USA.

  1. Potential of diaspora is underutilized.

E.g., low number of foreign missions, limited use of academics for creating pro-India narrative.

Diaspora’s role in promoting India’s national interest is key for the country in building robust international relations and projecting its influence worldwide. Given their prominent role, interests and wellbeing of diaspora should be of special concern to India.

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