During prime minister Modi’s recent visit to the United States, the American president Biden mentioned his India connection. He said that his great, great, great, great, great,  grandfather had settled in India and had married an Indian. President Biden is one of the many politicians in different parts of the world who claim their Indian roots. This is the legacy of the massive migrations of Indians to different parts of the world over the centuries. From indentured labourers to the Caribbean countries to the present day highly skilled professionals settling in many parts of the world, the Indian diaspora numbers 32 million. An additional 2.5 million migrate from India every year. . The island of Fiji has an Indian population of almost 38%; they are descendants of indentured labourers brought by the British to work on the sugar plantations. Today there are many Fijians of Indian descent in politics and Mahendra Chaudhry was the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister between 1999-2000. The Caribbean island of Guyana has an Indian population of almost 40% and Cheddi Jagan and Bharat Jagdeo have been prime ministers. Sridarth Ramphal, former Commonwealth Secretary was also a Guyanese of Indian origin, Trinidad and Tobago has an Indian origin population of 37%. Kamla Persad Bissessar was the Prime Minister of the country from 2010 to 2015. Suriname, a small country in South America, has an Indian population of over 27% and it is the largest ethnic group in the country. Preeaap Radhakishun was a former Prime Minister and Ramsewak Shankar was a former president between 1988 and 1990. Chan Santokhi is the present president of the country. Indians also have a big presence in Jamaica. Kamala Jean Gopie is a Jamaican of Indian descent who is a well known political activist in Canada. Kamala Harris the vice president of the United States has a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. Mauritius the Indian Ocean island has an Indian origin population of almost 60%. It has had several Indian prime ministers and presidents. Sookdeo Bisindoyal was one of the founding fathers of Mauritius. Another Indian Ocean Island Reunion is a French overseas territory. It has a population of 800,000 of which 200,000 are Indian origin, mainly Tamil. .The Indian Ocean island of Seychelles also has a substantial Indian origin population and the current president Wavel Ramkalwan has traced his origins to the Indian state of Bihar. With countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and South Korea, India has strong religious and cultural links going back thousands of years. In all these countries the Hindu epic of Ramayana remains very popular. Malaysia also has a huge number of politicians of Indian origin. Singapore too has had several Indian origin presidents. The East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have a substantial Indian origin population and they play a huge role in the economic development of these countries.  People of Indian origin also played a crucial role in the freedom movement of these countries. The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission was headed by Yashpal Ghai whose parents had migrated from India during British colonial rule. The review was presented to the country in 2010 and it was accepted by the majority of Kenyans. The new constitution has strengthened democracy in Kenya, promoted gender equality and safe guarded minority rights. South Africa has around 1,3 million people of Indian origin and  none other than Mahatma Gandhi had settled in the country. He influenced  many freedom fighters and helped change the course of human history.  Nigeria and Ghana also have substantial populations of Indian origin.  In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, there are a huge number of Indian origin politicians. Kamala Harris the vice president of the United States,  Rishi Sunak the Chancellor of Exchequer and Priti Patel the Home secretary of the UK hold some of the most powerful positions. The last Irish Taoiseach or prime minister of Ireland was Leo Vardkar whose father hails from the Indian state of Maharashtra. The current Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa is also of Indian origin. His fathers family hails from Goa. Netherlands or Holland has around 240,000 people of Indian origin, many of them from the former Dutch colony of Suriname. There is a huge interest in  Hinduism  and Indian culture in Russia and East European countries like Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Croatia. In the coming years they will also have very strong links with India.  There is a growing presence of India in Latin American countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. ,            Around 90,000 Jews of Indian origin live  in Israel. Their love for India is undiminished.  In the United Arab Emirates there are 3,429,000 people of Indian origin which is around 38% of the total population. Apart from the top politicians there are a huge number of people of Indian origin in the countries mentioned who serve as Ministers, Ambassadors and in many other fields.

 Conclusion

As India becomes a global power the Indian diaspora are and will be the country’s ambassadors. Unlike China, this partnership between India and the diaspora will not be at the expense of countries in which the diaspora live. The ethos on which Indians will operate will be based on the saying, ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’-the world is a family. Prime minister Modi’s government has gone a long way to forge a strong friendship with the diaspora community and the diaspora has responded in equal measure. The remittance sent by the Indian diaspora to India every year is around $78.6 billion. We need a bold vision to shape History and its time has come. Perhaps the term NRI needs to be dropped and changed to Vishwa Bharatiya. 

Nitin Mehta

25 September 2021.

animalahimsa@gmail.com.

www.nitinmehta.co.uk     ,   

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