[Solved] Indian diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries’ economy and society.Appraise the role of Indian diaspora in South-East Asia in this context ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)

[Solved]  Indian diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries’ economy and society.Appraise the role of Indian diaspora in South-East Asia in this context ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)

India’scultural relations with south east Asia are one of the most fascinating fields of history. Indian diaspora in these countries is varied. Indians roughly constitute about 8% to 9% of the total population in Malaysia and Singaporerespectively.

 Role of Indian diaspora in these economies:

 • In Indonesia, traditionally the Sikhs, Sindhis, and Tamils are engaged in various small businesses like sports goods, textiles and construction among many others.

 • Recent trends indicate that the present Indian migration includes professionals holding senior positions in local and multinational companies in the fields of IT, education, and technology among other aspects.

 Overall, the Indian community is well respected in Indonesia.

 • Singapore is distinct in all the Southeast Asian countries as Indians are well represented in the judiciary, civil services and armed forces of that country.

 • Some of the prominent persons of Indian origin include former President Late S. R. Nathan and Late S. Rajaratnam, an influential personality in the public life of Singapore, among many others.

 The entrepreneurial success of some Indians in Hong Kong is a fabulous story.Indian diaspora made considerable and consistent contributions made by the Indian community in Hong Kong in the ûelds of business, trade, education and social services.

 • There is significant presence of Indian diaspora even to the far east in countries like Japan,Korea,Brunei, etc.


 • In the case of Malaysia, the political, economic and social status of Indians vis-à-vis Chinese and local Malays is not satisfactory.

 • The New Economic Policy of 1970 adversely affected the Indian community in Malaysia. “Only a small group of Indian businesses with political patronage has prospered by venturing into services, construction and related activities.”

 • Myanmar:Ethnic Indians have no social, political or economic clout. When Myanmar got independence in 1948, all the important spheres of society were populated by Indians. Later nationalization policies implemented by the government led to an exodus of Indians on a large scale.

 • Indian diaspora in Southeast Asia is numerically very small and does not enjoy the economic clout that may change the state policies to India’s advantage.

 • Foreign Direct Investments from these countries is meagre. Same is the case with remittances when compared with those from Gulf or Western countries.

 • In the political realm, except for Singapore, Indians are not well represented politically in these states.

 • Even the administrative machinery constitutes few Indians. Therefore, the Indian diaspora has little utility for lobbying on behalf of India.

 • In addition to this, the region varies extensively in terms of polities. Very few countries are genuine democracies which again is a hindrance for lobbying

  • Many of the South East Asian countries have been influenced by Indian culture as our eastern and south indian kingdoms led expeditions in Indonesia, Malay , Cambodia etc.
  • There were substantial trade and people to people contact with these countries in ancient times which is evident by the myriad temples like Angkor Vat in Cambodia, celebration of Ram Lila in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and adoption of Hindu mythological names by their people.
  • There is an overall favourable image of India in these countries. For example, due to its merit based democracy, Singapore has seen many Indian origin people rise to positions of authority including former President S.R. Nathan. Similarly, in Malaysia many established business houses are run by Indians. Even in Myanmar, Indian people were in all the important social positions before their independence , after which a mass exodus occurred due to military rule.
  • Even though very few of these countries are genuine democracies which thwarts lobbying efforts, but with its religious and traditional influence, benign help in developmental works and engaging the diaspora in initiatives like RCEP and ASEAN dialogues , India stands to gain immensely from this proposition. Recent initiatives like Prawasi Bharatiya Diwas should be further pursued.

 Further reading…

  • Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries’ economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South- East Asia in this context India having its age old relations with south east asian countries.
  • Buddhism, Hinduism went to these countries from India. Some of our ancient kings build Buddhist, Hindu temples there. We did maintained matrimonial relations with those countries in the medieval period. In the modern period most of business community from south India migrated to these countries, some slaves also migrated. Now they become one of the best entrepreneur class in those countries.
  • Now under the act east policy of the present govt they wanted improve the relations with SE asian countries. Govt may engage at summit level, ministerial level, bureaucratic level talks and build relations but Indian diaspora present there tare he big brand ambassadors in promoting the relations, some groups are highly influential in those countries decision making process, they can turn policies towards India.
  • People to people contact will improve our relations in the area of society and cultural exchanges. Asian tigers may bring much more investments to our country. Improve in tourism sector because of regular visiting’s of their native places and visiting their kith and kins. Lot of cultural activities performed there by our diaspora will always connect India with those countries.

Cinema industry is the best example which always connect both the regions because of cooperation of diaspora and stories related to diaspora & cooperation among technicians because of the affection shown by them towards India. Demand for Indian cusines and Indian style of apparels also increase provided if reach them properly. This improves relations in both economic and social relations.

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