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Indians abroad: History, spread, remittances

GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


The government inaugurated the 17th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention on 9th January, 2023 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. For India, Indians living overseas are “brand ambassadors” of India on foreign soil.


Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

  • The convention to celebrate Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was started in 2003 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • In 2015, Ministry of External Affairs turned the event into a biennial affair.
  • Aim: To mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community towards the development of India and to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Mumbai on 9 January 1915. 

Indian Diaspora


  • Diaspora: From Greek word “Diaspeiro”, which means dispersion.
  • Indian diaspora has grown exponentially since the first batch of Indians were brought as indentured labourers to counties in the east pacific and the Caribbean islands under the ‘Girmitiya’ arrangement.
  • In the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Indians were shipped to work on plantations in British colonies, which were suffering from labour crisis due to abolition of slavery in 1833-34.

Classification of Overseas Indians

  • Overseas Indians are classified into three categories – 
  1. Non-Resident Indians (NRI): Indians who are residents of foreign countries.
  2. Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs): 
  • A foreign citizen (except a national of Pakistan, Afghanistan Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal) – 
  • Who at any time held an Indian passport, or 
  • who or either of their parents/ grandparents/great grandparents was born and permanently resided in India as defined in Government of India Act, 1935, or 
  • Who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, made provision for acquisition of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) by the Person of Indian Origin (PIOs) of 16 specified countries.
  • The PIO category was abolished in 2015 and merged with the OCI category

    3. Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs): 

  • Though, the constitution of India doesn’t support dual citizenship, the Government of India has decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) through passing bill in parliament in 2005, amending the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • It was launched at Hyderabad during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in 2006.
  • Eligibility: A foreign national who was – 
  • Eligible to be a citizen of India on January 26, 1950, or
  • A citizen of India on or at any time after January 26, 1950, or 
  • Belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947. 
  • Minor children of such individuals, except those who were a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • Benefits:

Statistics of Indian Diaspora

  • As per report of the Parliamentary committee on external affairs, there were 4.7 crore Indians – including NRIs, PIOs, OCIs, and students have been living overseas as on December 31, 2021.
  • The number stands at 3.22 crore excluding students.
  • According to the World Migration Report, India has the largest emigrant population in the world.
  • Emigrant Population: India > Mexico > Russian > China.
  • The World Migration Report is prepared by the International Organisation for Migration under the United Nations.
  • Also, the geographical distribution of the Indian diaspora is vast as shown in the figure. 


  • Remittance refers to the funds migrants send to their relatives in their home country while working and living abroad.
  • It is a vital source of household income for low- and middle-income countries like India.
  • According to World Bank Migration and Development Brief, India is on track to receive more than $100 billion in a yearly remittances. For the first time any single country will be able to do so.
  • According to the World Migration Report, top remittance recipient countries: India > China > Mexico > Philippines > Egypt.

Involvement in politics

  • Indian diaspora is playing a decisive role in the politics and economy of America and European Countries.
  • The top positions held by people of Indian origin in IBM, Microsoft, Google, Deloitte, Adobe, Palo Alto Networks etc. have a profound impact on global economic output.
  • Their contributions have decisive implications on the political dynamics not only in America and European countries but also across the world.
  • Kamala Harris and Rishi Sunak are the prime example of active involvement of Indian diaspora in Politics of American and European countries.
  • The Indian diaspora can also project the truth about India to the world in a credible and effective manner and amplify India’s development story on a global platform.  


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Fact File

SC demonetisation verdict: What is delegated legislation

  • Delegated Legislation: Since every aspect of government cannot be dealt with directly by the members of Parliament, they routinely delegates certain functions to authorities established by law. This delegation of powers is noted in statutes, which are commonly referred to as delegated legislations.
  • It specifies operational details, giving power to those executing the details. 
  • Examples: Regulations and by-laws under legislations.
  • Needs of a modern welfare state: To practice of empowering the executive to make subordinate legislation within a prescribed sphere out of practical necessity and pragmatic needs. 
  • Concern: Constitution-makers have entrusted the power of legislation to the representatives of the people, so that the said power may be exercised not only in the name of the people but also by the people speaking through their representatives.


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