7th ODI Young Scholar Diaspora Conference (YSDC) International Webinar On “Indian Diaspora in Africa and Other Parts of the World under Covid-19: Comparative Perspectives on their Challenges, Post Pandemic Options, and Emerging Research Agenda in Diaspora Studies” 25th July 2020; from 9:30 AM to 5 PM Jointly organised by Diaspora and International Migration Programme, (DIMP), of Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi & Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI India) On WebEx platform hosted at JNU Concept Note
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7th  ODI Young Scholar Diaspora Conference (YSDC)

International Webinar

On

“Indian Diaspora in Africa and Other Parts of the World under Covid-19: Comparative Perspectives on their Challenges, Post Pandemic Options, and Emerging Research Agenda in Diaspora Studies”

25th July  2020; from 9:30 AM to 5 PM

Jointly organised by

Diaspora and International Migration Programme, (DIMP), of
Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
&
Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI India)

On WebEx platform hosted at JNU

Convenors: Dr Sushmita Rajwar, Faculty Member, Delhi University & Dr Neha Sinha, Fellow, ICWA, Delhi
ODI Webinar Series Coordinators: D. Sushmita Rajwar, DU  & Ms Aarshi Dua, Researcher, African Studies, JNU.
Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3eJfSCk

Concept Note

The global pandemic has brought to us a range of diverse issues to deliberate on. One of the most emerging issue for us as a nation is People of Indian Origin (PIO). As the world started witnessing this pandemic we started thinking about its implications on the Indian Diaspora. The People of Indian Origin (PIO) all over the world are estimated at 30 million according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India.

The Indian Diaspora in Africa estimated at 3 million has been quite active in supporting their host countries during these difficult times. As we know that the pandemic has brought out a number of challenges for the African nations which might take a lot from them to recover. The African governments are not even in a position to announce substantial economic packages to protect their economies. In such times, the role and contribution of the Indian Diaspora becomes extremely important as they are placed at a better socio-economic status as compared to other minorities in Africa. The contribution of Indian Diaspora in countries like Mali and Nigeria has been immense. The Indian Diaspora in Africa is also very different from the Indian Diaspora in other countries like USA, UK, Gulf where the PIO went mainly for economic objectives.

The presence of significant number of other Diaspora in Africa is also equally important for example the Chinese Diaspora which has been increasing in the past few years. There are also some people of European descent who are residing in African countries. It would also be important to compare the diverse experiences of different diasporas within Africa in terms of their role during the pandemic and their expectations from the host and home countries.

The Indian Diaspora in South East Asian countries shares the similar history with that of Africa as most of them left under the indentured labour contract to work as labourers in various colonies. In Malaysia the Indian ethnic community population comprises of about 7.3 percent of the Malaysian population, 80 percent of which is Tamil. The Malaysian Indians earn a per capita income which is 27 percent higher than the Malay community. The Government of India has also renewed its policy regarding the ASEAN in order to bring closer its ties with the Indian diaspora in this region. Indian Diaspora in Indonesia and Singapore is also significant in the current policy of the Indian government. In Singapore 90 percent of the people affected with COVID-19 were the workers living in dormitories who were mostly Indians.

Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean occupy a position of considerable power and influence. These comprise mostly of the original jahaji Indian indentured workers brought by the British, French and Dutch during colonial times. The experiences of many of the Indian diaspora population in the Caribbean countries is similar to what was experienced by the Indian indentured labour in Africa. It would be interesting to know if there are any differences in terms of role, expectations, challenges and opportunities.

At the same time, one cannot ignore the role of People of Indian Origin in USA, who were also affected badly due to the pandemic. The Indian Diaspora in the USA has been very much visible in their efforts to help the needy. Chalogive is a fund launched by Indiaspora USA for COVID-19 has already raised US$ 500,000 from its leadership network. The Indian Ambassador to USA also praised the contribution of Indians in the country by all possible means.

The Indian Diaspora in UK is the worst affected ethnic group in the country by COVID-19. The Indians are estimated at 1.4 million in UK making the single largest visible ethnic minority population in the country. The Indian community despite being placed at a higher socio-economic status than others was at high risk. Two associations Indian National Students Association and Friends of India Society, UK have been helping Indian students in UK. Many stranded Indians returned home under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.

On the other hand, there is Indian Diaspora in the six Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) that plays a very important role in the Indian economy as India receives huge remittances from these countries. These over 8 million strong Indian workforce contributes atleast US $40 billion in the form or remittances to India which amounts to 10 percent of India’s foreign exchange reserves. India also brought back many stranded Indians due to job losses, many of them became carriers of the virus. Indian Prime Minister not only spoke to the leaders of the GCC but also assured them of providing all possible help and sent its Rapid response medical teams along with essential medical supplies to Kuwait and Bahrain.

With this background, this conference seeks to study and compare the role, expectations and opportunities of Indian Diaspora in Africa with the Diaspora in different parts of the world.

The following sub-themes would focus on, each as a seperate session :-

1. Indian and Other Diasporas in Africa under Covid-19: Comparative Challenges and Opportunities
 
2. Comparative Study of Indian Diaspora in the South East Asia, Caribbean Countries, Persian Gulf region & Africa: Comparative Challenges and Options for them.
 
3. Indian Diaspora in the USA, Europe, Other Parts of the World and Africa: Comparative Challenges and Expectations.
 
4. Panel Presentation and Discussion: Indian and other Diasporas in Post Pandemic World: Emerging Research Agenda in Diaspora Studies.
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