ODI International Conference on 10-11 January 2023. Theme: "Contributions of Indian Diaspora in Freedom Struggles of India and the rise of Global India during Amrit kaal"; Venue: Essentia Luxury Hotel, Near World Cup Square, Pipliyahana, Indore-452016 Phone: 0731672577, Madhya Pradesh; Host University- Devi Ahilya university, Indore.
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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
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
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International Seminar on
“Diaspora in Indian’s Foreign Policy and National Security: A Comparative Perspective"


Concept Note                                                                                                     Programme

Organized by Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI)
in collaboration with
Jawaharlal Nehru University  (CAS/SIS/JNU) & India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi
on 6th and 7th November 2013 at IIC New Delhi


Academic Session

Diaspora in Foreign Policy and National Security: Broader Theoretical Framework



Dr. Alan Gamlen,

Project leader, Oxford Diaspora Programme,  

Editor in Chief Migration Studies journal (OUP) , &

Senior Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington

Why do states establish diaspora institutions? Formal state institutions dedicated to emigrants and their descendants have been relatively overlooked by mainstream political studies, partly because they fall in the grey area between domestic politics and international relations. However, diaspora institutions are now found in approximately half of all United Nations member states. We address this important research gap, offering three theoretically-grounded explanations of why states establish diaspora institutions: one assumes that instrumentally rational states are tapping the resources of emigrants and their descendants, another assumes that value-rational states are embracing lost members of the nation-state, and a third argues that states are governing diasporas in accordance with emerging norms around ‘global migration governance’. We assess all three approaches empirically, analyzing a new longitudinal dataset for 116 countries in the period 1990-2005, testing hypotheses derived from this theoretical framework and comparing measures of overall model fit. We advance international relations research and policy practice with comparative theory - and evidence-based insight on why diaspora institutions are emerging and risen to different levels of political importance around the world.


By ODI on 31-Oct-2013



Dr. Maria Koinova, 

Associate Professor, 

Warwick University 

In recent years the debate about diasporas and foreign policy has moved away from an initial statist discussion about foreign policy and ethnic lobbying through the channels of the nation-state. Transnational connections between diasporas, original homelands, host-lands and third contexts develop durable relationships across borders which have not been well understood  by current scholarship so far. Why do some diasporas become important for sending states as assets in their foreign policy, while others get neglected or even attacked? Why do some diasporas develop strong support with international organizations, while others do not? Why do some diasporas organize heavily in a transnational social field to pursue foreign policy lobbying, while others do not, or prefer to engage through the nation-states they live in? In a world of growing importance of diaspora politics, we still have little answers to such questions. In my keynote speech, I will draw on my own previous research and newly gathered material within the ERC Starting Grant “Diasporas and Contested Sovereignty” to argue about the importance of the conjuncture of migration incorporation regimes, foreign policies of host-states and home-states, and diaspora positionalities in a transnational social space, or the capacities of diasporas to organize social contacts in specific locations. I will draw empirical examples from diasporas related to states experiencing contested sovereignty, such as the Albanian, Armenian, Bosnian, Kurdish, Palestinian and other conflict-generated diasporas, and compare them to experiences of diasporas originating from states that enjoy full sovereignty, including India.

By ODI on 04-Nov-2013



Dr. Saeed Ahmed Khan

Dept. of Classical  & Modern Languages,

Literatures and Cultures, Wayne State University,

Detroit, USA

Migration and transnationalism in the 21st century is catalyzing the emergence of individuals with multiple citizenship, possessing legal-judicial relations in more than one state and thus, capable of multiple spaces in which the rights/responsibilities interaction may occur.  This phenomenon may facilitate the process whereby a citizen may derive the benefits in one state, i.e. where he/she resides and yet fulfill the obligations of being a citizen in another state, often the country of origin or ethno-cultural affiliation, altering the conventional reciprocity of rights and responsibility within a single state and may create an asymmetrical exercise of citizenship, and redefining it beyond merely its ontological or legal categories.  Moreover, tangible impacts on the allocation of resources and their transfer from one state to another by such citizens may affect perceptions of national allegiance and loyalty as well as notions of belonging and nationality-based identity.

This paper analyzes the evolving morphology and ethos of the citizen within the global space as transnationalism and increased migration redefine the relationship the citizen has with the state or creates relationships with multiple states.  The subject of this study are second and third generation Indian-Americans. It will also explore and distinguish between single-state citizens and citizens claiming citizenship in multiple states and how the exchange of rights and responsibilities vis-à-vis the state are affected in each category.  Finally, this paper will offer a functional definition of these emerging expressions of citizenship that allows for the development of new models of social and cultural engagement, inclusion and integration, in both national and transnational contexts- a concept best described as ontological citizenship.


By ODI on 03-Nov-2013


 Diaspora in Indian Foreign Policy Part I



Dr. Dhooleka Sarhadi Raj 

PhD, Cantab, Independent Researcher, Singapore

New diasporic strategies have altered transnational citizenship through the introduction of emigrant technologies aimed at redefining belonging. For example, the Overseas Citizen of India scheme along with other reforms and initiatives transformed Indian emigrants from unwanted others into desired diasporic subjects. What are the implications for State sovereignty? This paper seeks to understand the fundamental transformations in sovereignty because of diaspora strategies. The paper is based on historical examples (from Bandung, The Asian Relations Conference, archival colonial research) and current period ethnographic research (including interviews with MOIA minister, former Ambassadors, HLCID members and government bureaucrats conducted in New York, Delhi, Ottawa and London). Outlining historical spatio-temporal junctures of the legal, policy, and bureaucratic engagements between the Government of India and emigrants, I explore the shifts in India - emigrant relations in terms of institutional and ideational changes. Using ideas of space and time, in this paper, I examine the deterritorialization of the state via the new diasporic subject. Seeking a new analytic to de-naturalize the connections between nation, state, territory,citizenship, and people, I argue that through changes in state institutions India hasactively constructed itself as a homeland with a diaspora. I propose the concept of emigrant infrastructure to understand this shift in state strategy. Postulating emigrant  infrastructure, in this paper I seek to advance the understanding of extra-territorial translocal belonging, nominal citizenship and transnational sovereignty.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Prof. K. S. Nathan

Principal Fellow, Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA)

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM),

Bangi, Malaysia

Indian diasporic communities that have settled in other parts of the world, can and do play a critical role in either enhancing or reducing the image of their historic country of origin. The more visible examples are the Indian diaspora in the United States, Canada and Malaysia, to name a few. Nearly 8  percent of Malaysia’s population of 30 million are of Indian ethnic origin, while 9.2% of Singapore’s population of over 5 million is constituted by Indian minorities. This study argues that the changing perceptions of India and Malaysia towards each other are a direct result of fundamental shifts in the global strategic environment occasioned by the end of the Cold War, the commencement of major financial and structural reforms in the Indian economy, and the inauguration of India’s Look East Policy since the 1990s. It further arguers that India’s strategic concerns in Southeast Asia/Malaysia have also been triggered by the rise of China whose diaspora in Southeast Asia has been a significant factor impacting the desire of regional states to strengthen economic, political, diplomatic and strategic ties with Beijing. Malaysian Prime Minister NajibTunRazak’s visit to India in 2010 to boost bilateral ties underscored his consciousness of the fact that 85% of all Malaysian Indians originated from Tamil Nadu in South India. 

ASEAN, which is the institutional core of Southeast Asia, has moved rapidly to build equidistant relations with both India and China, the two major sources of civilizational influence upon the region. The paper argues that India’s growing diplomatic, institutional, political and security engagement with ASEAN-led institutions such as ARF and EAS is at least partially inspired by the prospect of leveraging on the presence of the Indian diaspora in Southeast Asia. It  concludes that while occasional frictions may arise in India-Malaysia relations over the treatment of ethnic Indians in the country, the benefits of India’s more robust engagement with Malaysia/ASEAN outweigh the costs, given the expanding economic, industrial, commercial, investment,  trade and tourism opportunities – all of which can produce a direct if not indirect impact on India’s strategic perceptions of the role of the diaspora in facilitating a more pro-active engagement with the region. The quality and quantity of such interactions will invariably influence the future direction of India’s foreign and security policy towards Malaysia/Southeast Asia.


By ODI on 31-Oct-2013



Constantino Xavier

Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, USA

As an increasing number of Indian citizens establish residence worldwide, the government faces an immense challenge in ensuring their security. When host countries plunge into crisis – whether because of political disorder, civil war, minority persecution or environmental disasters – this may translate into massive evacuation operations. This paper reviews India’s past efforts and argues that as such operations will become more frequent and complex, the government will have to continue to expand its capacity and coordination to respond effectively.

A first section offers a comparative perspective India as states design increasingly complex crisis-response policies to protect and evacuate their expatriates worldwide. Based on a compilation of the data on India’s major operations since 1947 the paper then analyses possible types (civil or military) and patterns (regional) of such evacuation processes, and proceeds by reviewing the various phases and actors involved: pre-crisis intelligence preparedness; local consular support; bilateral and multilateral diplomatic initiatives; logistical capacity and civil-military coordination; domestic reception; and potential reintegration.

A final section addresses four problems that will mark such operations in future: the limited logistical capacity and possibly increasing role of the military in assuring the success of long-distance operations; the increasing complexity of coordinating across various governmental agencies and also regional states; new domestic pressures to protect and evacuate also members of the non-citizen diaspora; and the temptation of upgrading mere logistical evacuations into deeper, longer and more complex interventionist operations to protect expatriates abroad.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013


 Diaspora in Indian Foreign Policy Part II



Prof. Sam Maghimbi

Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social  Sciences(DUCE),

University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

There is a vibrant Indian diaspora in East Africa. It has made significant investment in shops, industry, tourism, agriculture, real estate, and other sectors. There have been many Indian civil servants since the colonial days and even ministers and members of parliament. The attitude and policy of both the East African (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) states and India to this diaspora is important for both economic and security reasons. This diaspora has contributed to the development of East Africa and is a big source of tax for the governments. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for some East Africans to consider this diaspora as intruders and the story of the Ugandan Indians is still fresh in our minds. The paper considers how the East African and Indian governments have formulated or can formulate clear foreign policies on matters like dual citizenship. The idea of building confidence for the diaspora to invest in East Africa is examined. 

It is argued that the diaspora will have more confidence in investing and participating in all aspects of society when they believe that they are part of the society and when the wider societyand the state does not view them as a “one leg in one leg out” commercial group.


By ODI on 04-Nov-2013



Ms. Shubha Singh

Indian scholar in Fiji, New Delhi

The presence of a substantial Indian diaspora in Fiji has served to focus India’s interest in the South Pacific region. India maintained a high profile presence in Fiji and the South Pacific region after Fiji gained independence in 1970. Australia and New Zealand, the two main powers in the region looked askance at India’s efforts to reach out to the small newly independent Pacific nations. India’s policy towards the South Pacific became a factor in its relations with Australia and New Zealand. The 1987 coup in Fiji which overthrew an Indian dominated government led to deterioration in ties with Fiji, eventually culminating in the expulsion of the Indian envoy and closure of the Indian diplomatic mission. Ten years later the Indian government reopened its High Commission in Suva at the urging of the Indian community in Fiji.  

The 1987 coup resulted in a large scale emigration of Indians to Australia and New Zealand. As Australia and New Zealand eased their immigration laws for highly skilled Asians, the Indian diasporic community grew in size in both countries. However, there is little bonding between Fiji Indians and Indian migrants from India. Unlike the diaspora in the US, Indians in Australia have not been as politically active or united in lobbying for their interests. As India-Australia ties have developed with Australia becoming a major exporter to India, the diasporic community’s role in bilateral ties is increasing. The diaspora helps to project Indian soft power in the region as India extends its reach through the Central Indo-Pacific region.

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Sharkdam Wapmuk

Research and Studies Department,

Nigerian Institute of International Affairs,

Lagos, Nigeria.

The paper argues that the Indian Diaspora in Nigeria, today, constitute an important, and in some respects unique, force in promoting Nigeria-India relations, especially in the areas of trade and investment. This is more so, given the recent diplomatic drive by the Indian government for increased access to critical energy resources from Nigeria and markets for her goods and services. The Indian Diaspora in Nigeria, which is estimated to be about 35,000, has its historical origins in migrations during era of British colonialism. The Sindhi community, who were first to arrive in Nigeria in the early part of the 19th century to explore business opportunities, with time, were joined by other Indians, including the professionals. The strong presence of the Indians in Nigeria has remained in the areas of trade and investment, especially in large departmental stores, textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, engineering, banking, manufacturing, brewing, consumer goods and electronics. The activities of the Indian Diaspora in Nigeria have been facilitated through associations and organizations such as the Nigeria-India Friendship Association (NIFA), Indian Professionals Forum (IPF), Indian Women’s Association (IWA), the All Indian Cultural Association (AICA), the Nigerian-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI), and the Uttar Bharat SevaSamaj (UBHAS), amongst others. The paper concludes by noting that these associations, have the unique functions of uniting not only the Indians in Nigeria, but have huge potential of serving as desideratum through which thepresent friendship and understanding between Nigeria-India could be further strengthened for mutual benefits of the two countries.

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Denison Jayasooria

Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA),

National University of Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia

Malaysia and India has had a long period of contact even before the formation of the modern nation state in 1947 in the case of India or1957 in the case of Malaysia. However the formal direct links were established during the colonial period with the migration of large number of workers from South India to the rubber plantations and subsequent settlement as citizens in the Independent Malay in the post 1957 independence period. This paper reviews the Indian response on two recent events which took place in the city of Kuala Lumpur affecting the Indian Diaspora. The first is the arrest of NRI- Indian professionals in Kuala Lumpur on March 9, 2003; second is the arrest of PIO - Hindraft movement’s leaders who had staged a street protest on Nov 25, 2007. The Indian action or inaction in these events illustrates the contemporary issues and challenges in foreign relations pertaining to citizenship and human rights. It raises major concerns in how the largest democracy in the world takes its place in the global arena as a protector and promoter of human rights for all citizens of the world especially NRIs and PIOs of Indian origin.

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013


Diaspora in Foreign Policy: Global Experiences Part: I



Prof. Shinder Thandi,

Coventry University, U. K. 

This paper will examine the changing political discourses among the half a million strong UK Sikhs in the post Khalistan movement period. The crushing of the militant movement in Punjab in the early 1990s and the banning of two of the most active Sikh political movements in the diaspora – International Sikh Youth Federation and BabbarKhalsa – led to serious introspection by Sikh militants in the UK. Being aware of the political marginalization, both within the Sikh community and international organizations, they re-invented themselves to mobilize Sikhs, the mainstream British community and the international community under the broader agenda of harmonious community relations, UK citizenship and human rights. In 1999 we see the emergence of Sikh Federation (or Sikh Secretariat) and the Sikh Council of UK. A vigorous campaign, aided by the emergence of two Sikh satellite channels, All Party Parliamentary Group of Sikhs and Kesri Lehar, a new movement to lend support to freeing of long-time Indian prisoners, Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana, culminated in two historic debates in British Parliament within the last year: firstly the debate on abolition of the death penalty in India and secondly a debate on the British Sikh community. The paper will attempt to identify the nature of re-alignments among major Sikh political organizations and actors, new mobilization strategies in the UK and their link to UK domestic politics and their implications for India-UK foreign relations and India’s pro-diaspora engagement policies. The paper will suggest ways that Indian foreign policy and diaspora engagement policies could incorporate the new and changing realities of Sikh diaspora politics and advocacy, transforming the current problematic relationship into a constructive one.  


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Prof. Braj M. Sinha,

Past President, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute

Professor, Department of Religion and Culture

University of Saskatchewan, Canada

The paper seeks to offer corrective and expansion of the conceptual framework of ‘Soft Power’  articulated by Joseph Nye of Harvard University in his  celebrated work , Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004). Joseph Nye, since the original coinage of the term in his 1990 work Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of the American Power, has proposed the concept to articulate the important role of the non-coercive mechanisms available to nation states in pursuit of their national interests in a highly complex geo-political world of economically and culturally diversified international arena demanding substantive rethinking of the parameters within which international diplomacy must function.

The debate that has galvanized around the Nye’s work has failed to take note of two important factors. First, Nye and others tend to look at the practice of diplomacy within the structured framework of the State where the private citizens, NGOs, and other members of larger civic society are seen to be only marginal players, at the best, consciously seconded agent of state diplomatic policy . The debate has practically ignored the role of the diaspora and its ‘soft power’ in shaping and promoting the bi-lateral engagements of the country of origin of the diaspora citizens and their new adopted home of destination.  Further, there is very limited acknowledgement of bi-national education cooperation as an effective means of public diplomacy utilizing the elements of ‘soft power’. Using the data from Canada and the one million strong Indo-Canadian diaspora the paper proposes corrective to the conceptual framework offered by Nye and his academic entourage. 


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Rup Narayan Das,

Senior Fellow, Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA), New Delhi

Although the diaspora has always played an important role in the all-round development of their home country, in recent years, particularly after globalization, they have emerged as strategic assets for their home countries politically and economically. There is a self-discovery which is equally true about both Indian and Chinese diaspora in the sense of their primordial affiliating to the native or home countries, and there is a longing for bonding, which was not there perhaps few decades ago when they were happy and contended leading a good life abroad. This attitudinal change is manifest in their engagement with the mother country. There are interesting similarities between the Indian and Chinese diaspora. Both the communities have aroused feelings of envy in the areas where they live, as they have achieved more success to the local populations. Both communities are characterized by attachment and feelings of nostalgia for the countries they have left behind.

Like Indian diaspora, overseas Chinese constitute one of the largest diaspora in the world. The US, Canada and Australia receive more emigrants of Chinese origin than from anywhere in the world. Indian Americans and Chinese American are two of the most successful ethnic groups in the Silicon Valley.The present paper attempts to make a comparative assessment of world’s two very prominent diaspora communities-Indian and Chinese, in particular how the two respective governments have formulated proactive policies to engage and mainstream them in the growth and development of their respective countries.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013


 Diaspora in  Foreign Policy: Global Perspective Part: II



Dr. Irina Isaakyan and Prof. Anna Triandafyllidou

Global Governance Programme,

European University Institute, Florence

In the increasing volume of studies on diasporas’ soft power, special emphasis is being placed on diasporic associations, through which expatriates often advocate the cultural and civic attractiveness of their home country and herein execute its soft power over the host society (Blarel 2008; Nye 1999, 2004, 2008, 2011; Watanabe 2008). Unfortunately, little is known about the diversity of cultural resources used by diasporics through such networking that would allow them to influence attitudes and patterns of belonging to their country of origin in the native majority. In particular, there have been no studies on the soft power agency of American expatriates, although the United States remains the soft power world leader.

Another issue of concern is that not every ethnic community that speaks culturally and civically on behalf of its homeland is a diaspora (Anthias 2008; Brubaker 2005; Isaakyan 2010; Tololyan 2007), while not every culturally congruent diaspora can develop a strong agency of soft power (Dossani 2009; Gupta 2008; Nye 2008). 

Illuminated by the lives of American female migrants in Italy and Greece, our work examines a complex relationship between the diasporic formation of an under-researched expatriate community and the soft power agency of this community. We seek to understand to what extent American expatriate women may shape as a diaspora and exercise soft power through their expatriate associations. We ask: To what extent do the cultural resources used in their diasporic formation become their “soft-power currencies”? The concepts of “civic engagement” (Crowther 2008; Triandafyllidou 2009) and “putative diaspora” (Brubaker 2005; Isaakyan 2010) are used as heuristic devices to generate our study. The data were collected from narrative biographic interviews with 50 Anglophone women who live in Italy and Greece and from 30 ethnographic observations in the American women’s clubs in Florence, Naples and Milan. 

Our research shows that American expatriate women view themselves and shape as a “civic duty Anglophone [supra-national] diaspora”. However, their activities of civic engagement (which are widely promoted by their associations and through which their diaspora becomes an entity) do not lead to a successful exercise of soft power. Such activities are not culturally attractive or ideologically persuasive for the native (Italian or Greek) majority, who view the civically dutiful Americans or Anglophones as “weird people”. The prevailing Hollywood-driven stereotypes of Americanness turn the American expatriates’ civic engagement into a dormant (not salient) currency for soft power; which, in order to raise the authentic interest in and attractiveness of the US in Europe, needs to be carefully re-translated to Europeans by both the diasporants and the mass media on both sides of the Atlantic.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Kathryn Lum

Carim India Project, Migration Policy Centre, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies,

European University Institute in Florence

Mass elite or ‘knowledge’ migration from developing countries has led to debate about brain drain and how to covert this loss of human talent into brain gain, or at the least, brain circulation. Discussion of migration and diaspora therefore is intimately linked to migration as a potential leverage for development. In the absence of being able to prevent people from living, increasingly sending countries are actively encouraging their talent diaspora to return, as well as to contribute to the ‘motherland’ from afar.  This paper will discuss how two of the largest migrant sending countries in the world- India and China, view and harness the talent potential of their global diasporas. Adopting a historical approach, the paper will first trace the evolution of diaspora policies and infrastructure in each country, showing how historically, the level of diaspora engagement varied according to both domestic and international political contexts. China, for example has gone from considering migration an imperial crime, to considering all ethnic Chinese as an integral part of the Chinese nation. It will then compare and contrast the actual policies of diaspora engagement adopted by India and China, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each country’s policies. While China has promoted the return of its scientific and entrepreneurial elite, India has made it progressively easier to travel and invest in India for people of Indian origin. Despite different policy focuses, India and China are united in using a discourse of ethnic pride, what can be termed ‘emotional citizenship’ in encouraging its ethnic diasporas to cultivate an emotional bond to the country of their ancestors. The diaspora policies of India and China reveal that in an attempt to attract investment and stem brain gain, developing countries, while stopping short of introducing full dual nationality for geopolitical reasons, are seeking to create new forms of flexible citizenship that enable them to reap an ‘ethnic dividend’ from their global ethnic diasporas. 


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. P. A.Mathew,

Director, Fisat Business School, Cochin, India

Soft power as a concept redefines the notion of power in international relations and with advent of globalisation and increased use of information technology it has increased in importance. Soft power uses attraction rather than coercion in order to shape the preferences and opinions of others and goes beyond nation’s economic and military power. The main sources of soft power are culture, political values and foreign policies that are seen as legitimate and having moral authority.

Diasporas are emerging as important partners in the soft power equation between different countries. Soft power gets manifested itself through films, television programmes, popular music, fashion and design, food etc promoting nation in the global arena and also leading to power diffusion. This contribution of diaspora’s goes beyond notion of diaspora’s being significant economic contributors to origin countries.  Diasporas are also increasing playing key role in countries branding strategy and they represent one of the nation brands most influential and important stake holder groups.

Indian and Chinese diaspora’s are emerging as important constituencies in promoting their respective nations in the globalizing space. As both countries face the challenge of positioning itself in changing global power matrix this paper is an attempt to see the role of diaspora’s in promoting soft power through its various manifestations. It looks into the similarities and differences in their approach and how in the context of increasing knowledge intensity in nation building how the respective diasporas contributed to that.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Bijay Ketan Pratihari, 

Faculty Member, Academy of International Studies, University of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Ethiopia has a large diaspora community. It is estimated that around 1-2 million people of Ethiopian diaspora has settled down in West Asia, North America, and Europe. Ethiopians are the second largest group in the United States after Nigeria. Emigration from Ethiopia is a fairly recent phenomenon. It has begun in 1970s with the Ethiopian revolution in 1974 and Eritrean war of independence. 

The contribution of Eritrean diaspora to the independence struggle of Eritrea is immense. In terms of material and intellectual aspects, Eritrean diaspora has been a vital pool from which Eritrean struggle has greatly benefited. This derived from the notion that Eritrean diaspora has a strong passionate attachment to their country of origin. When everybody like United Nations (UN), Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and major powers abdicated its responsibility on Eritrea a strong message was sent to Eritreans. The message was that Eritreans are alone. They have to fight their own battle. They have to depend on their own resources. This act of ignoring and marginalizing created a psychological mind set of ferocious national determination and independence. This realization of this aloneness brought out a resolute will of maximization of resources. One of the resources was the diaspora of Eritrean community. 

The contribution of Eritrean diaspora to the liberation struggle was of profound significance. The commitment of diaspora community took a variety of forms including financial. The financial contributions varied from regular monthly fees to street collections. Without the diplomatic and financial role of the diaspora community, it would have been impossible to achieve the Eritrean independence.

After the partition and creation of Eritrea, Ethiopian government realized the role diaspora. It wanted to involve its diaspora in its own development. Therefore it has taken various measures to tap the diaspora resources. In 2002, the Government of Ethiopia created the Ministry of Expatriate Affairs and Diaspora coordinating office of the Ministry of Interior. The objective of these two units is to serve as liaison between the government of Ethiopia and Ethiopian abroad and to mobilize the Ethiopian diaspora to attract knowledge and capacity building in Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia is currently developed a comprehensive diaspora policy and has already implemented several provisions of legislation. This includes the Ethiopian ‘Yellow Card’, remittance sending protocol, investment incentives, a diaspora bond, and foreign currency bank accounts directed at the diaspora. The Government of Ethiopia has been active in extending rights to the diaspora and extracting obligations from the diaspora. The Government of Ethiopia views the diaspora as a key resource to develop the country and has actively pursued attracting diaspora investment. The new policies in Ethiopia have made diaspora investment and engagement much easier for diaspora community.  


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013


Foreign Policy and National Security: Indian Experience



Ambassador Kishan S Rana

Former Ambassador,

Ministry of External affairs, Government of India

The connection between security and Diasporas is not often examined, partly because it appears to be indirect, even intangible. One area in which this connection comes up is when a diaspora faces serious threat. Countries, and public opinion within countries, expects governments to act in support of the diaspora, even when the diaspora consist mainly of people that have given up citizenship of the home country. What residual obligation does the home country have to safeguard their security? On the positive side, how does the presence of a diaspora affect the home country’s relationship with the diaspora location country? How might the existence of the diaspora be factored into that bilateral relationship? These are among the issues that this paper seeks to explore.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Daniel Naujoks

United Nations Development Programme, New York

Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI)

Academic Co-convener of the Conference

In public debate and policy discourse, commentators regularly refer to links between dual citizenship regimes and security issues. This is connected to a general trend toward a securitization of international migration, on the one hand, and the use of security arguments as ‘rhetorical hooks’ that hide other motives, on the other.

In 2003 and 2005, India changed her citizenship legislation to introduce a new diasporic membership statusthe Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) that was discussed under the label of ‘dual citizenship’. Based on 49 interviews with Indian policy makers and the analysis of Parliamentary debates, the paper combines discourse analysis, interpretative methods and a neo-institutional approach to critically examine the meaning of security concerns in the policy debate, the context of the relevant statements and the actors and institutions that bring forth such arguments. 

Located at the intersection of foreign policy, diaspora relations and home affairs, the paper differentiates two areas of concerns. On the one hand, it examines arguments that refer to India’s national security, especially threats of terrorist activities by diasporic actors. On the other, it analyzes arguments that fear dual citizenship may lead to security and safety concerns for diasporic populations in their countries of residence. The analysis includes how these concerns were addressed and what institutional actors contributed to overcome or mitigate them.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Rajesh Kadian

Chairman, United States- India Security Forum

In 1906 the Democratic Party’s  dominant politician, William Jennings Bryan, authored a pamphlet titled "British rule in India". It castigated the British and aroused American public opinion against the oppressive and exploitative character of its Empire. By 1913, Bryan, having three lost presidential elections, was the US Secretary of State. This congenial anti-British atmosphere was the setting for the creation of the Ghadr Party, manned mostly by Sikhs and led largely by Bengalis. Within 12 months an Indo-Irish-Turkish- German Axis developed. The Ghadrites marked the beginning of the Indian-American’s role in India’s national security calculus. Since then, the 3 million Indian-Americans are a vital bridge between the two great democracies. However, Kashmiri separatists, Khalistan supporters, Tamil Tigers, Al Qaeda associates are among India’s security challenges. Like the Ghadrites these entities are enmeshed with other state and non-state actors. In contrast, the Diaspora’s rolebenefited India during the Kargil War, in the aftermath of the 1998 nuclear tests, etc. The security aspects are unclear of the founding of the Sikh Caucus in the US Congress in 2013 for unidentified pro-Khalistanis were supposedly its strong supporters. The refusal of a US visa to Chief Minister Modi may be a harbinger of Indian domestic politics spilling over to American shores. Clearly greater engagement, both official and otherwise among the two countries and their peoples is vital. A distant echo are the Ghadrites. Though mauled by 1916, it still consumed the majority of the resources of the American Department of the British Foreign office.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Amit Gupta

Associate Professor,

USAF Air War College, United States

This paper examines the attempts of the Indian American diaspora to influence the foreign policy of the United States. The Indian American diaspora now numbers over 3 million people and is both prosperous and educated with a median household income of $90,717. For a relatively new diaspora - migrating in large numbers to the United States only from the 1960s - the Indian diaspora has built up a fairly impressive reputation for itself as a political force in the country.  

The paper makes the argument that the diaspora while rich, motivated, and potentially influential, is divided by ethnic, religious, and generational lines. These divisions are leading to varying impacts on American foreign policy, India-U.S. relations, and even on the Indian political system itself.

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013


Foreign Policy and National Security: Global Experience



Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera

Former Legal Advisor

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka

The Paper, in examining the triangular relationship and inter-linkages between the diaspora communities, their country of origin and their host countries respectively, will place special emphasis on the role and significance of the diaspora inpostconflict societies and the challenges and opportunities the phenomenon presents, from the perspective of facilitating post-conflict reconciliation efforts of countries of origin, emerging from protracted internal conflicts.The Sri Lanka diaspora experience in the context of an internal conflict spanning three decades, impacting on the diaspora phenomenon forms the fundamental base of the 

Paper, which will be broadly classified under the following heads;

(i) Historical Overview and Evolution of the Phenomenon.This section will trace the beginnings of the diaspora in a pre-conflict phase and its evolution and accentuation of its impact on foreign and domestic policies of Sri Lanka, during the conflict period.

(ii) Diaspora and National Security. The particular challenges posed to national security by the diaspora networks in conflict situations, will be dealt with under this head. Particular attention will be paid to the role of these networks in the utilization of front organizations ostensibly for charitable purposes, however in reality, to serve as a conduit for channeling illicit funds to armed groups in the country of origin, to sustain their terrorist activities against the State.

(iii) Role and Significance of Diaspora in Post Conflict Reconciliation.This section will deal with the role and significance of the diaspora in meeting the challenges of post-conflict reconciliation. Particular attention will be paid to the need to evolve policies, both domestic and foreign, to harness the potential of the diaspora, in a post-conflict setting, while seeking to minimize the lingering threats to national security posed by marginal, extremist elements within the diaspora.In this regard, the Author will draw from his experience having served as a Member of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the post-conflict reconciliation body, paying particular attention to its recommendations in harnessing the potential of the diaspora community, to facilitate the reconciliation process, including the establishment of institutional mechanisms to achieve such objective.


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Amb. Yogendra Kumar,

Former Indian Ambassador, Phillipines

The interests and welfare of the Filipino diaspora is one of the major foreign policy objectives of the government of the Philippines. The Philippines government goes about facilitating the emigration process and the protection of the welfare of the Filipino immigrants overseas in a very professional manner, the experience of which is of keen interest to the government of India; the problems for the government of India in handling the Indian overseas immigrants are quite similar to that of the Philippines.

The Philippines government handles the emigration process through training and certification programs appropriate for the destination country; there are organisations, supported by the Philippines government, to handle the preparations of individuals or emigrant groups. The government exercises continuous oversight on their conditions overseas.

The government implements this policy at multiple levels. It negotiates protocols with the host government regarding the terms of employment and living conditions of the Filipino immigrants in the specific destination country. It modifies its own laws and rules and regulations concerning the immigration process. It is an active participant in multi-lateral dialogues on immigration issues between sending and receiving countries and collaborates closely with India at these dialogues.

The large Filipino diaspora contributes nearly 10% to the country\'s GDP. The government of the Philippines encourages emigration of its citizens because it eases the pressure on it on the employment front which remains consistently high. Thus, the Filipino diaspora is widely spread throughout the world and has become a major factor in the Philippines government\'s foreign as well as internal policies. The emigration pattern of the Filipino population varies according to the country and the region; this pattern has implications for the Philippines government foreign policy. The major concentration is in the US, where the Filipino elite normally resides and occupies quite high, professional positions there; Spain is another destination country because of its own colonial linkages, largely, for the elite; in all countries, Filipino immigrants, in very large numbers, belong to the service sector, such as nursing, cooking, housekeeping, driving et cetera as well as teaching; Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore remain popular destination for emigrants for jobs in the services sector; a large number of Filipinos are in the Gulf region largely in the services as well as the construction sectors; the neighbouring countries of Indonesia and Malaysia have overlapping social groups connected through family, fishing and mercantile small trade links; as regards China, they are mostly in business as well as in teaching, especially, of English language; in Australia and New Zealand, their demographic and professional spread is somewhat like the US; in the other island countries in the Western Pacific, they are in professional jobs like teaching, accountancy, consultancy as well as managerial positions. Ethnicity and denominational factors do have an influence on the emigration pattern of the Filipinos. As regards the possibility of the radicalisation of the Filipino Muslim community due to the large scale presence of the Filipino Muslims in the Middle East, there is no strong evidence to that effect; the insurgency within the Muslim community in the Mindanao region is more due to the regional history and the ethnic politics of various Muslim groups which is fuelled by the Islamic radical elements from Indonesia – mostly - and Malaysia.

The nature of foreign policy challenge for the Philippines comprises welfare issues for the diaspora, including salary and benefits, criminal offences and personal distress, major disturbances/calamities like the widespread violence in Libya requiring of a massive evacuation effort, coping with the influence of host countries on the Philippines foreign/domestic policies and its own leveraging of the manpower requirements in its bilateral relations.

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Amba Pande

Faculty Member,

School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi, India

The role of diasporas has come under a great scrutiny with their growing importance in the contemporary world. Their involvement in conflict and conflict resolution is one sphere where opposing views have prevailed as some studies have shown them as conflict promoter and peace wreckers while the others show them as peace promoters and agents for development. In reality, the ‘conflict-generated Diasporas’ with traumatic memories, on one hand can feed and prolong the conflict but on the other their strong sense of attachment to the homeland can plead for reconciliation and support post-war reconstruction.

The role of Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in the ethnic conflict of Sri Lanka, hitherto, has - willingly or unwillingly - been viewed mostly as that of a conflict promoter, but their role in the post-conflict development and reconstruction of Sri Lanka, remains equally crucial and calls for a multi-pronged strategy which engages the Tamil diaspora, the Sri Lankan government, the international community, private enterprise and civil society. The paper intends to investigate the role of Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the different phases of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and highlight, their role in peace-making and reconstruction activities in Sri Lanka. 

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013


Indian Foreign Policy: Strategic Significance of Indian Diaspora



Dr. Yongkyu Chang

Director, Institute of African Studies, Associate Professor, Division of African Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

'We are being sandwitched'.

This was given by one of my Indian-South African friends during my field study in Durban in 2006. This statement delivers a clear message about the social position of Indian-South Africans. Most of the Indian-South Africans whom I met during my field researh shared similar feelings that they are buffered between the White and the Black population of South Africa. They agreed that South Africa, by constitution, is a democratic country allowing equal opportunities for all regardless their racial, ethnic, gender and age differences. However, in reality, there are still ample evidences of discrimination and the deprivation of opportunities against those who are minors, including Indian-South Africans.

A structural violence wielded by the British colonial government and Apartheid regime since the end of 19th century had systematically discriminated and displaced non-white population of South Africa. Although the main target of the racial discrimination policies was focused mainly on African population, Indian-South Africans were given no grant. Most of the Indian-South Africans were outcasted, although they were regarded slightly superior to the Black population, and pushed into a buffer zone between the White and the Black. They were neither the White nor the Black.

I am, in this presentation, going to illustrate the historical development of South African racial relations, with the help of information collected from a field research, to show that why Indian-South Africans feel that they are 'being sandwitched' and develop their own identities in the modern history of South Africa.  


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Ambassador Paramjit Sahai

Former Secretary, 

Ministry of External Affairs, 

Government of India.

We live in a complex globalized world, where no phenomenon can be seen in black and white. The same is true of relationship among countries, as there are always shades of grey that define relationship. This equally holds true, in the case of diaspora’s role, in particular, in the context of foreign policy, whether it is a boon or bane, as this is a green area and no serious study has been undertaken.

This Paper would, therefore, look at this critical question, as it examines diaspora’s role. Diaspora, like other pressure groups, could be a boon or bane, depending upon its size, its locale, its political involvement, its economic strength etc. This would largely depend upon the environment, in which it is allowed to operate by the host state and how open it is. How well is the diaspora politically organized? Does a framework exist in the host state that provides for channels of communication between the diaspora and policy makers in the government, both in the executive and legislative branches, as opportunities and limitations on interaction would vary? What role do diaspora legislators or executives play; are these coloured by their moorings in the home state?

Are there different rules and guidelines and approaches that involve diaspora in domestic or foreign policy issues? Furthermore, is a distinction being made between cultural, economic and strategic issues that would define or circumscribe their role? Does citizenship of the diaspora matter, with non-citizenship becoming a handicap? Would the protection of citizens be an important component of foreign policy? Should diaspora be involved in lobbying efforts?  If so, do some guide posts exist? Understanding of these and other related issues would help us in defining broad reference points, which could be tested in country-specific settings.

How do the above parameters apply in the case of India? Does India have a diaspora policy? If so, where does foreign policy fit in to this? If not, how does this work out at the operational level, with or without policy framework. Do the foreign policy issues get meshed with domestic politics? What are the structures, like cultural and public diplomacy, available in pursuing foreign policy objectives? Is diaspora being treated as a component of India’s soft diplomacy? The answers to these issues would be found through a case study in USA. It is also proposed to undertake a comparative analysis of findings on India with diaspora from other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, Phillipines and USA, wherever it is applicable.

By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Aparajita Biswas

Professor and Director,

Centre for African Studies, University of Mumbai

The importance of soft power has increased in the context of globalisation and the growing disquiet over the use of military power for achieving foreign policy objectives. This paper focuses specifically on the sources of soft power such as the Indian diaspora in East African countries and its use in India’s foreign policy.

A nation’s foreign policy is defined as the basis and framework of its relations with other nations. India’s foreign policy has been based on moral values from the time of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, whose approach remains a tremendous influence even today. Moreover, even before India’s independence, leaders of the Indian National Congress supported the freedom struggles of people under colonial rule in Africa. India strongly decried apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa at international fora. This support, both political and material, continued even after independence. 

India’s diaspora is an asset insofar as it is a huge source of soft power. There are millions of Indians spread across African countries and other parts of the world. Many of them were taken as indentured labour to far-flung parts of the British Empire in the 19th century, such as the sugar plantations of South Africa and construction sites in East African countries. Over the years, they have contributed immensely to the economy of the countries they have settled in, and command respect and influence in these countries. In fact, Indians have significant control over the economies of several countries, such as Tanzania and Kenya. 

Within the last decade, the Government of India has shown significant interest in the Indian diaspora and adopted a number of diaspora policies. It may be recalled that India once had a closed economy that did not encourage foreign presence in business and investment. Subsequently, on liberalizing its economy in 1991, it looked upon the diasporic Indian population as useful agents of trade, investment and technology. Of particular significance is the large amount of foreign exchange entering the country by way of remittances by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in the Gulf region and North African countries. In fact, because of these remittances from overseas Indians, India is comfortably placed in its foreign exchange reserves. 

This article will examine India’s huge source of soft power from the Indian diaspora, and how it is shaping its foreign policy, besides strengthening its relations with the countries that are home to the diaspora.



By ODI on 01-Nov-2013



Dr. Vidhan Pathak

Assistant Professor, Centre for African studies, University of Mumbai

The ‘Diaspora’ may influence life in both, their home as well as host countries. Influence in the home country often works through ethnic linkages and generally comes out due to a deep seated psychological search for cultural identity. It may also develop political and economic interests in due course of time. In the host country if the Diaspora size and economic strength is considerable, it can influence political and security situation in many different ways. There are instances where the Diaspora has even assumed political authority of significance in the host country. The degree to which the Diaspora can influence the life in the host and the home country depends up on several factors like the nature of the role played by Diaspora dependsupon the willingness or acceptance of that role by the home and the host country. Secondly, the means, motives and opportunityfor the Diaspora to play the precise role. The nature and degree of the Diasporas influence depends on the numerical and financial strength,as well as the mobilizationofdiaspora resources. Thirdly, the context of international situation and also the nature of the political system operating in the host or the home country may influence the role played by the Diaspora.

Thus, the Diaspora role can be seen in a much wider canvas involving both positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects include the role of Diaspora as the contributor to the home country economic stability through remittances/investment or by giving greater visibility to the home country through skills, competence and entrepreneurship or through political support to the interest of the home country. This in the long run builds the non-traditional security of the home country. This role is played through a series of significant and effective activities like remittances/investment; fund raising for a range of social, economic and philanthropic activities and by lobbying to influence the host countries policies and the world public opinion at large.

Within the above outlined parameters, this paper will attempt to explore and assess the role and influence of South African Indians on the bilateral relations between India and South Africa.     


By ODI on 01-Nov-2013

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