Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high profile engagement of overseas Indians over the past three years has renewed policy interest at home and abroad in India’s relations with people of Indian origin (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs). This renewed interest is located in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s longstanding view that an enduring civilizational bond exists between overseas Indians, of varying nationalities, and the ‘Motherland’. In the colonial era the footprint of the Indian ‘diaspora’, spread to the far ends of European empires with Indian communities settling down across the Pacific, the Atlantic, Asia and Africa. The government of the Republic of India has long accepted the norm that a citizen’s primary loyalty is to the nation of one’s citizenship. However, India’s economic globalization since 1991, and India’s more recent rise as a major power, has privileged the role of the diaspora in nation-building and the projection of Indian ‘soft power’. This paper examines the factors that have shaped India’s diaspora policy in recent times. We suggest that changes in India’s domestic economic policies and its re-integration with the global economy have played a larger role than any foreign policy objectives in defining official policy towards the diaspora.
About the Speaker:
Dr Sanjaya Baru is Distinguished Fellow, United Service Institution of India. He was Media Advisor and Spokesperson of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (200408). He has been Editor, Economic Times, Financial Express & Business Standard (1992-2004 & 2009-11). He was Visiting Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2008-09) and Director, Geo-economics & Strategy Programme, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). He was a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board (1999-2001) and of the ASEAN-India Eminent Persons’ Group (2011). His books include. Strategic Consequences of India’s Economic Performance; The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh; India and the World: Essays on Geo-economics and Strategy; & 1991: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Made History