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International Conference on “India and its Diaspora Engagement: Comparative Global Practices” organized by Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives, (ODI) New Delhi in Collaboration with Dias
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE on "New Indian Migrants' and 'Indentured Diaspora': Emerging opportunity for Indian Foreign Policy" 3-4 November, 2016 Venue: Rabindra Bharti Unversity, Kolkata
International Conference on DIASPORA AND INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION IN DEVELOPMENT: COMPARATIVE GLOBAL EXPERIENCES 10-11 January 2016, New Delhi
Interactive Lecture on "India and Indian Diaspora in East Africa: Past Experiences and Future Challenges by Dr. Gijsbert Oonk, Erasmus University, Holland 2 December 2015 at Conf. Hall 2 at IIC
International Conference organized by ODI on Indian Diaspora in Development of Home and Host Countries: A Comparative Perspective at Kadi University, Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat, 10th-11th January, 2015
OD Conference at Columbia University on A Foot in Each World: South Asian Diaspora Communities in the United States and their Interactions with their Homeland October 17, 2014, 2.00–5.00pm Altschul Auditorium, International Affairs Building (SIPA)
International Conference on "Women in the Indian Diaspora" organised by ODI in collaboration with IIC and CAS-Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on 10-11 January 2014, at India International Centre, New Delhi
Conference on "Diaspora in India's Foreign Policy and National Security:A Comparative Perspective" on 6-7 November 2013 at New Delhi
International Conference on “India and its Diaspora: A Comparative Perspective” on 29-30 March 2013 at IIC
Books on Diaspora by ODI & its Members
Published in Collaboration with ODI
International conferences of ODI on Diasporas
Organised in India
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International Seminar
 
Diaspora in India’s Foreign Policy and National Security:
A Comparative Perspective
 organised by
 Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI)
 in collaboration with
 Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
 and
India International Centre (IIC)
at
India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, 6 – 7 November 2013
 
               Seminar Convener: Prof. Ajay Dubey, School of International Studies, JNU
Academic Co-convener: Dr. Daniel Naujoks, UNDP and ODI
Co-convener: Prof. Kavita Sharma, Director, India International Centre

 

 CONCEPT NOTE

 

Diaspora in India's Foreign Policy and National Security:

A Comparative Perspective

 

India’s diaspora policy has evolved over the period according to the overall foreign policy objectives and national interests. The colonial government gave priority to the interests of the U.K. and colonial powers and facilitated migration of indentured labour and workers to European colonies. Congress took up the cause of indentured workers and eventually sought the abolition of indenture system. Diaspora also took keen interest in India’s freedom and mobilized support for its independence. From 1920 onwards the Indian nationalists had acknowledged and lauded the contribution of overseas Indians to the struggle for freedom. After all, the Father of the Nation, Mohandas K. Gandhi, had been prominent in the diaspora and had begun his experiments with civil disobedience movements while in South Africa.. The plight of overseas Indians continued to be accorded great importance until the eve of independence. In fact, one of the first initiatives of the interim government led by Jawaharlal Nehru related to the position of Indians and people of Indian origin in South Africa. This is the early policy about diaspora by the Government of India.

In the post-independence period, Nehru accorded priority to larger foreign policy objective of anti-colonial struggle and Non-alignment. He therefore advised diaspora to become good citizens of the country of their settlement. He was however supportive of their cultural and civilizational links with India. Thus, when Indians faced discriminatory treatment and expropriation in places like Burma and Sri Lanka, New Delhi did not take up issues on their behalf. Things began to change with the global economic disruption of the 1970s. The oil shocks of that decade presented the Indian government with a series of foreign exchange and balance of payments crises. Remittances became an important part of foreign exchange management and emergence of large communities in Gulf became an important factor in our relations with West Asian Countries.

The Diaspora policy of government of India was influenced by the economic problems faced by the country. The government acknowledged the contribution of Indian Diaspora in solving the foreign exchange crisis. Changing profile of the diaspora, increase in its numbers; adoption of the policy of economic liberalization and globalisationand end of cold war led to a reevaluation of the diaspora policy. The NDA government in 1998 initiated several policy measures in its foreign policy to woo Indian diaspora. The Indian Diaspora is now considered as an asset. Indian settlers in other parts of the world are considered as ‘brand ambassador of India’ promoting goodwill for India and represented ‘mini India’ Many policy initiatives like celebration of PravasiBharatiya Divas (PBD), PIO card, investment opportunities etc. are introduced for Indian diaspora. . In the subsequent years the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), a separate ministry was established to give definite directions to the diaspora policy.

In the age of globalisation, the 25 million strong Indian diaspora has come to be regarded as an important asset. People migrated from India and settled in countries far away from India, since long have been contributing significantly to the development of India, especially of late in terms of investment, foreign trade, transfer of technology and skills, development of cultural linkages with foreign countries etc. Besides, they have also been lobbying hard for safeguarding India’s interests. Blocking the Burton amendment, support for India during Kargil conflict, nuclear tests and Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation are excellent examples of Diaspora as a strategic asset. The rising profile of India during the recent decades, especially its economic success, had added to the standing of the Indian Diaspora in their adoptive countries. As the latter sought to engage India more actively because of its growth and military strength, they found the Indian Diaspora a useful bridge. This enhanced their value and standing in the countries where they lived and worked.

Recently there is a debate about Indian diaspora being the strategic asset. India should be more pro-active in trying to leverage the diaspora. This has assumed significance because of the human capital flows from India is likely to increase in the next few decades. International human capital flow will become increasingly important over the next few decades. It was because of various factors like demographic, technological, domestic policies and national security concern. In the industrialized societies there is strong demand for skilled labour because of aging and low fertility. In this contest, India with its largest pool of skilled labour is critically poised as a major source. Given these emerging realities, how can India take advantage of these future trends? Can international migration and diaspora be a strategic asset for the country?

The political development within India has its impact on diaspora. This also affects India’s relationship with other countries. The Khalistan movement and LTTE are the two important examples in this regard. The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and the support for LTTE in Tamilnadu has its impact on India and Sri Lanka relationship. The army action on Golden Temple at the height of Khalistan Movement hurt sentiments of large number of Sikhs across many countries. It also adversely impacted India’s relations with Canada. The other important issues like Kashmir issue, Gulf evacuation of Indian nationals, HINDRAF issue in Malaysia has its impact on India’s foreign policy. The presence of diaspora has implications for our foreign policy and national security. It is an important factor in our bilateral relations with countries where they have significant presence. In the era of globalisation, with the development in communication and in social and electronic media this phenomenon is becoming more prominent.

In these days of globalisation diaspora and security issues became interlinked. Diaspora can become a part of intelligence agencies and can help in transfer of sensitive materials and technologies. Most of the security agencies use diaspora for their purpose. ISI’s use of David Headly and TahhavurRana are examples of using diaspora for intelligence gathering and terrorism. They have also tried to recruit Indians in the Gulf for their operations. Diaspora has also been used for havala and narco-terrorism. Remittances also have an impact on socio-economic and socio-political environment in the society which has bearing on our national security.     

The purpose of the seminar is to look into the relationship between diaspora and the foreign policy of India. In the age of globalisation the diaspora is an important element of any country’s foreign policy especially in the case of India which has a large diaspora across the globe. The diaspora became an important determinant of India’s foreign policy recently because of its role in the Indo-US nuclear deal. So in the present context it is appropriate to discuss diaspora and India’s foreign policy. This deliberation will be useful for academia and MEA. In the light of the above discussions the proposed seminar will look into various issues like;

 

a)     Linkages of Indian Foreign Policy and Diaspora Policy.

b)  Implications of Diaspora for National Security.

c) Linkages of Diaspora & Terrorism.

d) Diaspora and Socio-Political changes having a bearing on National Security.

e) Changing Nature of Indian Diaspora Policy as part of Foreign Policy.

f) The influence of Indian Diaspora on the Foreign Policy of India and bilateral relations   

with countries of their settlement.

            g) Diaspora as a strategic asset.

 

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