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Indian Diaspora in the United Kingdom

  • 17 Dec 2020
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, British Foreign Secretary has stated that “India’s politics” is, in some sense, “Britain’s politics” because of the Indian diaspora in the United Kingdom (UK).

  • The statement came as he discussed the situation arising out of the farmers’ protests with the External Affairs Minister of India.
  • British Prime Minister would be the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations in January 2021.
  • Indian Prime Minister has been invited for G7 summit in 2021.

Key Points

  • Indian Diaspora:
    • Indian Diaspora is a generic term used for addressing people who have migrated from the territories that are currently within the borders of India.
    • The term “diaspora” is derived from the Greek word diaspeirein, which means “dispersion”. Over time, the term evolved, and now loosely refers to any person/s belonging to a particular country with a common origin or culture, but residing outside their homeland for various reasons.
  • Indian Diaspora in the UK:
    • Historical Background:
      • The incorporation of the British Empire in India can be linked to the existence of modern Indian Diaspora all over the world.
      • Dating back to the nineteenth century, Indian indentured labor was taken over to the British colonies in different parts of the world.
    • Population:
      • The Indian Diaspora in the UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, with the 2011 census recording approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK equating to almost 1.8% of Britain’s population.
    • Economy: Indians contribute 6% of the UK’s GDP.
      • Indian diaspora-owned companies with a combined revenue of 36.84 billion pounds employ over 1,74,000 people and pay over 1 billion pounds in Corporation Tax.
    • Culture:
      • There has been a gradual mainstreaming of Indian culture and absorption of Indian cuisine, cinema, languages, religion, philosophy, performing arts, etc.
      • The Nehru Centre is the cultural wing of the High Commission of India in the UK which was established in 1992.
      • 2017 was celebrated as the India-UK year of Culture to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian independence.
    • Politics:
      • In 2019, the British House of Commons had 15 members of parliament of Indian origin.

Significance of Indian Diaspora

  • Huge Number:
    • According to Global Migration Report 2020, India continues to be the largest country of origin of international migrants with a 17.5 million-strong diaspora across the world, and it received the highest remittance of USD 78.6 billion (this amounts to a whopping 3.4% of India’s GDP) from Indians living abroad.
    • It contributes by way of remittances, investment, lobbying for India, promoting Indian culture abroad and for building a good image of India by their intelligence and industry.
  • Economic Front:
    • Indian diaspora is one of the richest minorities in many developed countries, this helps them to lobby for favourable terms regarding India's interests.
    • The migration of less-skilled labour (especially to West Asia) has also helped in bringing down disguised unemployment in India.
    • In general, migrants' remittances have positive systemic effects on the balance of payments.
      • Remittances of USD 70-80 billion help to bridge a wider trade deficit.
    • By weaving a web of cross-national networks, the migrant workers facilitated the flow of tacit information, commercial and business ideas, and technologies into India.
  • Political Front:
    • Many people of Indian origin hold top political positions in many countries, in the USA itself, they are now a significant part of Republicans and Democrats, as well as the government.
      • India's diaspora played an important role in the India-U.S. nuclear deal.
    • Indian diaspora is not just a part of India’s soft power, but a fully transferable political vote bank as well.

Related Government Initiatives

  • Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD):
    • It is celebrated once in every two years to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government of India and reconnect them with their roots.
  • UMANG International App:
    • It would help all Indian international students, NRIs, and Indian tourists abroad to avail themselves of the services of the government of India anytime they want.
    • The app would be helpful in creating awareness about India in the world through ‘Indian Culture’ services available on it.
  • VAJRA Faculty Scheme:
    • The Scheme enables NRIs and the overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India.
  • Know India Programme:
    • It is a three-week orientation programme for diaspora youth conducted with a view to promote awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the country in various fields.


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