Moving from one place to another in search of food and shelter has prevailed in human society since Nomadic Age. India is certainly the land of opportunities but over the years, Indians have left their motherland for specific reasons, making it the largest diaspora in the whole world.
A diaspora is a population which is scattered and their origin is in a different geographical place. Now migration, which may be voluntary in search of work, trade or education and it could also be involuntary like fleeing due to oppression, political or religious conflict. The main difference between diaspora and migration is that, diaspora is referred to a community or a population that share a common geographic heritage and are scattered in different parts of the world whereas migration refers to just people moving into to different areas in search of a settlement.
History of Indian Diaspora
Indian residing overseas account for arguably the world’s largest and oldest diaspora communities. They add upto a string of migrations spanning several decades and even centuries. With each decade, a new lot of Indian population moves in search of academic, trade and other professional opportunities.
The history of the Indian Diaspora dates back to its trade links during the Indus Valley Civilisation, where they used to trade with ancient Mesopotamia and Egyptians. Since the time of Indus Valley Civilisation till 1500s trade laid the groundwork for much of the Indian Diaspora which extended it roots to Arabian Peninsula till the famous Portuguese explorer reached India, thus opening the gates of trade for the European nations.
After the colonialism in the 19th century the Indian Diaspora got its real shape. Now Indians were migrating out of the country for not just trade but also in search of work and settlement.
1879 is dated as the first time Indian landed their foot in Fiji, located 1,100 miles (1, 770 km) north of New Zealand in search of work in the sugarcane plantation. Later than extended to Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. In Fiji, people of Indian origin make up for 42% of nation’s population.
The 20th century and the post-Independence era saw a new generation of Indians migrating abroad for work and settlement. In 1940s and 50s a large number of Indians moved to European countries to fill the post-war labour shortages. The early 1950s also saw the oil rush in Gulf which resulted in thousands of Indians of Southern Region moving and working in petroleum sector and settling there.
In 1960s, we saw a new class of Indians who were not satisfied with the likes of the jobs in comparison to their qualifications following their way to the Western countries, especially The United States and Canada.
Population majority in foreign countries.
With the population of 18 million India has the largest Diaspora. According to report ‘International Migration 2020 Highlights’, done by the Population Division of the United States Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) , says that the UAE (3.5 million) , the US (2.7 million) and Saudia Arabia (2.5 million) host the largest population of Indian migrants.
In 2020, 18 million people from India were living outside their native country or the country of their origin followed by Mexico and Russia (11 million each) and China (10 million).
Other countries containing a large number of Indian migrants are Australia, Canada, Oman, Qatar and the United Kingdom. Since the turn of the century, India saw the largest and the most rapid gains at 10 million.
Reasons behind the modern diaspora
The Indian diaspora irrespective of its result is still a net loss for the nation in terms of human resources. It is termed as a failure from the end of Government to provide suitable and satisfactory working and professional conditions in India which can reduce mass migration.
India with 229 million population of youth (15-24 yrs), the largest in the world has the skilled and semi-skilled, employed and unemployed human resource. Low salaries and lack of satisfactory working conditions are the first reason that sets off the movement to other countries with better facilities and living standards. Employment is without a doubt the biggest reason of emigration. Google and Microsoft who are the two biggest companies which specialize in technology have two Indians Mr. Sundar Pichai and Mr. Satya Nadela respectively, as their CEOs. This shows the quality India is providing in terms of education, but sadly are unable to capitalize and the talent is either getting wasted or is being profited by companies outside India.
Even with the standard of higher education has considerably evolved post independence in terms of universities and their subsequent access towards higher education. Even the representation of women has been around 35% of the total number of students in these educational institutions.Even with the increase in standard of colleges in India and their level of education, still students moving abroad for education has kept increasing.
By the end of 2010, we had more than 1,50,000 students studying outside India with around 95,000 students choosing the famous universities of USA. Rest of the numbers were occupied by UK, Canada and Australia.
Lack of opportunities in terms of Research and Development
In the most developed countries, the researchers are backed by funds and necessary equipments to carry out study and research work. India, a country famous for producing talents in fields of Medicine and Engineers has a serious lacking in terms of financing for study. This is another motive that attracts those who are deserving and are deprived of these opportunities.
Countries such as the United States, attract professional and skilled workers with lucrative offers to carry out their study and in return work for them.
Lack of seats in Medical and Engineering Colleges.
In 2020, a total of 15,93,452 candidates had applied for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) UG 2020 for a possible of total 83,075 seats in various medical colleges across India. Talking about Engineering, JEE Main 2020 combined by its two session had 17,79,534 candidates registered for only BTech for a possible total of 50,822 total seats. These stats are only restricted to undergraduate programs.
India, has arguably the tough competition when it comes getting in a college for higher studies. So, students who are able to afford the life and colleges fees in universities abroad choose the obvious options with the results of that education being better if not equal. Students in countries outside India tend to work in that county itself accounting to a greater diaspora.
The Covid Effect
The whole world was adversely affected by the pandemic. India with a population of more than 1.5 billion, the ratio of doctor-population in India is 1:1456 which is against the WHO recommendation of 1:1000 at least. During the second wave, India’s lack of doctors and medical professionals was exposed. Government was forced to use the students who were currently in final year of graduation to work as frontline workers.
As we have the largest population of students working outside of India, when the students return to India, it brought a sudden hike to the COVID-19 cases and we as a country were not ready for situation of this stature.
India as a country needs to protect its talent for the sake of the future of the country. There are so many people who in spite of their talent are not able to use their full potential in such conditions. The government must take reforms and provide more educational and job opportunities for such talents. Wit the change in the education sector and by bringing the the New Education Policy, 2020 it is yet to see how effective it shall become for the country.
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