Today there are over 28 million in the Indian Diaspora, from recent emigrants to several generations in the so-called older (legacy) diaspora, speaking many languages and residing in numerous countries. In addition, there is a significant number working on temporary visas in both skilled and unskilled jobs. The fact that there are 160 Indian high commissions and consulates worldwide confirms the widespread domiciles and increasing numbers of Indians outside of India. Other than the Jewish Diaspora, our diaspora is unique that adds to our legacy, a priceless treasure envied by others, intrinsic in so many ways.
This is indeed a unique phenomenon of migration where the culture, heritage and values bind and bond like an overwhelming dose of hereditary jewels, traits and attributes that reside within us whenever and wherever we go. Indian heritage is like a huge banyan tree, strong and vibrant, with many branches and extremely deep roots of shared values of Indianness that cannot be easily discarded or denied. Indian heritage is undeniably an invaluable source of inspiration and pride while we try to fathom the depths of our heritage and how it sustains the diaspora.
Indian heritage is the cornerstone of the diaspora, transcending time and place, surviving obstacles and severe situations, remoteness, indifferences and influences. Despite speaking different languages, living in different and sometimes remote places while sustaining and improving our lives, we share heartfelt feelings of Indianness and the urge and yearning to connect and belong. Meanwhile, we have inherited and taken a lot from India and transformed our lives and the new countries of our birth or adoption.
The Indian diaspora is a continuing phenomenon and can be likened to “the export or migration of people seeking better lives for themselves and their families” which we tend to achieve comparatively quickly. Subsequently, we flourish after assimilation and adaption with each succeeding generation, while adding to economic progress of our respective countries of domicile. Indian heritage, culture and values are the driving elements for sustenance, survival, achievement, pride and progress at all levels.
The older diaspora, which I refer to as the legacy diaspora, of the Caribbean, Africa, Mauritius, Oceania and Francophone countries, have retained more of the Indian culture intact and in its original form for the many reasons associated with remoteness, harsh living conditions, sense of belonging and togetherness, sustenance and bonding. During this process, a lot of adaptation was necessary, such as with foods and clothing, some conversion to Christianity, and break down of the caste system. Later, some Indian music and songs witnessed a fusion combination such as “Caribbean Chutney”.
From Durban to Detroit, we have strived to do better for ourselves and have contributed to the new countries’ progress in significant ways. We have put a woman in space; cell phones in the hands of working people; wiped out polio; excelled in tennis, cricket, chess; earned Nobel prizes for writing and economics, science and technology, etc. Our diaspora is molded by culture, heritage and values while it also adds to and often times influences those traits in both subtle and visible ways into other societies: language, clothing, lifestyle, technology and social values.
Remarkably, we have a knack for reconciling our two (2) identities – our inherent Indianness and birth or newly adopted citizenship. We learn very easily to adapt and co-exist and progress in other countries with multi-ethnic societies far away from India. Note that adherence to Indian heritage and cultural origin should not – and must not – diminish national loyalty. In fact, assimilation and adaption are key attributes to progressive lives in other birth or newly adopted countries.
Indian heritage is such a powerful asset in the diaspora that some other colonial powers marginalized persons of Indian origin curbing cultural observances and by making it difficult to maintain cultural traditions. Despite such efforts, those Indians persevered and sought more to preserve and protect Indian by culture, heritage and values, and survived and remained vibrant.
The Indian Diaspora Council (IDC) strives to embrace, engage and enhance the rapidly growing Indian Diaspora now in many more countries, while monitoring and addressing critical issues of interest and concern which can be specific to one area or region while other issues are common to many. We are grateful to IDC worldwide affiliates, members, supporters and patrons who contribute to IDC’s growing success. As IDC celebrates its 20th anniversary, it has progressed to become the premiere Indian Diaspora advocacy organization with worldwide recognition among various governments, organizations, institutions and agencies.
IDC Journal news is an informative compilation of information, achievements, commentary, issues and events pertinent to the Indian Diaspora, as well as planned events and programs, including collaboration with India’s Overseas Indian Affairs Department of Ministry of External Affairs.
Thanks to all IDC affiliates and members, supporters and patrons, as well as IDC Journal’s dedicated news and editorial teams, and congratulations and best wishes for continuing success of IDC and IDC Journal globally.
Indian Diaspora Council International