Engaging the diaspora in India

Metka Hercog & Melissa Siegel


The Indian overseas communities are the result of different waves of migration. Acknowledging that country's migration history and current conditions of migrants influence these perceptions, this paper begins by describing Indian migration from the early colonial period to the present day and presents the current geography of diaspora with exposing the main concentration areas. We then go on to lay out current policies and institutions that shape Indian diaspora engagement. Special attention is devoted to the set up of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), which serves as a single stop agency for any kind of matters relating to overseas Indians and is meant as a focal point for overseas Indians, immigrant organizations, as well as for trade, industry and any other organization with stakes in overseas Indian affairs. By setting up the MOIA in 2004 and dedicating suffient time and resources for support of institutions, the Government of India declared its long-term commitment to reach out to their migrants. Moreover, the Indian government has signed a number of agreements for bilateral cooperation with the main countries of destinations and takes an active part in regional and global initiatives for migration management. India has, in this way, already emerged as a leader in this field with one of the most comprehensive state level diaspora engagement policies, which makes India's institutional practices particularly interesting to observe. The chapter summarizes with the discussion on the current debates, pointing to the continuing renegotiation of diaspora's involvement in the development of India.

Keywords: India, Diapora, Diaspora Engagement, Migration and Development

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