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India Diaspora Enriches India By $55 Billion


Apr 3, 2005
Diaspora enriches India by $55 billion

WE should be beholden to those over 27 million Indian Diaspora who have added $ 55 billion to nation’s economy. We can expect more this year. These men and women spread across 190 countries have pushed India to number one position as far as foreign remittances are concerned. China that occupied first position is now number two.

World Bank figures show a dramatic growth, 162% in the remittances that we received from overseas Indians over the last eight years. India had received close to $21 billion from non-resident Indians in 2003; it is now in 2010, a staggering amount of $55 billion. World Bank data also points out India was followed by China ($51 billion), Mexico ($22.6 billion), Philippines ($21.3 billion) and France ($15.9 billion). Punjab and Kerala are currently among the states receive the highest remittance from overseas residents.

In Punjab, this contribution means lot to the people. Many families survive on this money; others can afford big show marriages, cars and even s{censored}y homes. All in all, these remittances push the economy forward . Punjab shall not Punjab without these dollars and pounds. But sometime the impact of this foreign money on culture is a matter of concern. Come elections, this money shall flow from America, Canada and England in thousands of dollars. Some leaders are touring Canada and America to collect funds and gain political mileage too.

Our national and state governments are happy. Ministry of overseas affairs feels elated with this contribution. Though there was a slight dip in remittance from 2008 to 2009, but it bounced back in 2010 to the highest ever level. Increase in remittances has much to do with a more faith in the Indian banking system compared to lack of faith in tottering US banks. Also, the interest rate in India is much higher, almost four to five times than in most of the countries of the West. Remittance are meant for different forms; domestic or social consumption, property, health and education. Much of this is real money that is very much a part of the local economy, and only a portion is parked in the banks.

Economy of states like Punjab and Kerala is increasingly getting hinged to the remittances sent by those who work abroad. In these two states, there is hardly a family who has not a relative settled in Europe, America, Canada or the gulf countries. Punjabis, as the joke goes are universal like potatoes without whom any vegetable is complete. This means that every household gets some money which is spent here in variety of ways. This provides boost to the economy. Most educational institutes have seats reserved for NRIs. This brings them more money as the fees charged are much more. Same way medical institution gain money.

Since Punjab does not offer good avenues of employment, there is a big wave for migration. Whole lot of cheating goes by agents and kaboorbazi is new word we have added thee world lexicon. Punjab government despite repeated promises has failed to provide good system that could take care of those who wish to go abroad for studies, work and for settling with their kin. Everyday newspaper report good number of cases of cheating by agents and others. There are a large number of women married to those settled abroad who feel cheated. There is a huge social cost which Punjabi society pays for this. Who would look into this and help?

There is qualitative change also. Money is increasingly being remitted by educated Indians who have temporarily gone for country for work. Experts assert that those who earlier left the country for the US or Canada often settled down there for good and did not send much money back home except in case of dire need. Earlier, the money coming back to India was largely from poor people who migrated to Gulf countries, and sent a large portion of their income back home. But now professionals are remitting a good deal of money back home. All said and done, Gulf money is important as is from countries like Australia, Philippines, Singapore or Malaysia. Bulk of the migrating Indians is still skilled and semi-skilled workers.

It is high time that government stops paying lips service by holding those NRI jamborees and do something real to help these NRIs. At least our missions abroad should stop harassing these people and extend helping hand when they wish to visit the country of their origin. Long queues outside our embassies in the US, Canada and UK are a humiliating experience for them. There is an urgent need to protect the rights of these migrants. Punjab has created a separate department but its working is much below the expectations. We should introduce schemes to support them when they return home. They should not feel cheated. It is just not the money that is reaching India, Indians too are returning in large numbers. While some eight lakh Indians leave the country each year, a significant number of overseas Indians, about one lakh return to the country of their birth. Let us be proud of them and extend a helping hand. Those Indians who wish to come back and settle down into industry, businesses or jobs need not be those who get irritated with little things. They need to be thick skinned. They should be able to walk on the streets watching their steps and avoid falls. There is a great deal of pollution all around as is corruption. They should be able meet these challenges. It is awful if they let this gets the better of them. But one reason for staying on in the country despite these irritants is the larger goal, that of building the Indian economy and the excitement of being present in their home country.




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