India Indian Diaspora Tops Remittance List

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
July 23, 2011

Indian diaspora tops remittance list

Anahita Mukherji & Ashley D'Mello, TNN | Jul 23, 2011, 12.40am IST

MUMBAI: Just how much do the 27 million global desis, scattered across 190 countries around the world, contribute to the Indian economy? World Bank figures show a dramatic increase of almost 162% in the remittance that India receives from overseas Indians over the last eight years. While India received nearly $21 billion from overseas Indians in 2003, the figure jumped to $55 billion in 2010.

"India received the highest remittance in 2010 compared with any other country in the world," said Dr Alwyn Didar Singh, secretary, ministry of overseas affairs during a discussion on the Indian diaspora organised by the global think tank Gateway House. World Bank data also points to the fact that India receives the highest remittance, followed by China ($51 billion) and Mexico ($22.6 billion), Philippines ($21.3 billion) and France ($15.9 billion).

Though there was a slight dip in remittance from 2008 to 2009, it bounced back in 2010 to a level higher than in 2008. Kerala and Punjab are currently among the states which receive the highest remittance from overseas residents. Didar Singh believes the increase in remittances has much to do with a great degree of faith in the Indian banking system, coupled with a lack of faith in US banks. "Remittance may be in a number of forms, such as domestic consumption, property, health and education. This is real money that is very much a part of the local economy, and is not money that is simply parked in a bank," he adds.

According to S Parasuraman, director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, money is increasingly being remitted to India from educated Indians who have temporarily moved out of the country for work. "Those who earlier left the country for the US often settled down there for good and did not send money back home," said Parasuraman. "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," he added.

He says there is a great need to protect the rights of these migrants and introduce schemes to support them when they return home. It isn't just the money that's returning to India. India also has the highest number of returning migrants, says Didar Singh. While six to eight lakh Indians leave the country each year, a significant number of overseas Indians (over one lakh) return to the country yearly.

Adil Zainulbhai, McKinsey's managing director, India, is one such return migrant. He was part of the Indian diaspora in the US for 24 years before returning in 2004. "If you're one of those people who gets irritated with little things, don't come back to India. You can't take a walk on the streets without watching your step or you could fall, and then there's a great deal of pollution all around you. It's awful if you let this gets the better of you. 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 at the creation," he said speaking at the Gateway House forum.


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