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Harnessing the Indian Diaspora
Alex Steffen, 12 Jan 04

Bruce Sterling recommends this article about Indian efforts to tap into the knowledge, experience and wealth of Indian expats:

"Over 2,000 people of Indian origin worldwide are converging on the capital. They include Noble Prize laureate Sir V S Naipaul, management Guru C K Prahalad, economist Jagdish Bhagwati, entrepreneur and philanthropist Lord Raj Bagri and business magnate L N Mittal, both of Britain, and veteran West Indies cricketer Rohan Kanhai. Leaders of Indian industry will address the assembly, including Mukesh Ambani, chairman of India's largest conglomerate, Reliance Industries, and Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Telecom. ...

"the great Indian get-together is now being seen not only as a dip into an investment-centric relationship with the powerful Indian community abroad, but also an attempt to leverage the abundant talent and abilities of their diaspora in various fields. As Vajpayee said at the inaugural gathering last year: "We do not want your [Indians abroad] riches, we want the richness of your experience."

"The financial power and influence of Indians abroad is significant. Their money-power speaks for itself. The US Census Bureau has pegged the Indian American median family's annual income at US$60,000, compared with the national average of $38,885. Despite the recent recession, the dotcom bubble burst and the tech meltdown, the estimated annual buying power of Indian Americans still stands at $20 billion. However, observers maintain that the event is not only about money.

"Today investment is not quantifiable in money terms only. There is a realization among Indians living abroad that our destinies are inter-linked even now. If India is seen as the emerging country, or as the growing economy, people will pay much more attention to people of Indian origin in various parts of the world. On the other hand if our diaspora are seen to be doing well, it only goes to enhance India's prestige,'' says organizer Sharma of ministry of external affairs.

"Indians began to be associated with software and computers rather than elephants and snake charmers. Indians now want this success replicated in sectors like healthcare and biotechnology through a technology and knowledge leap so that the world sees India and Indians as a superior source for human capital."

These diaspora efforts are a huge potential lever for change, bigger than many of us understand. For instance, remitances -- money sent by immigrants back to their home countries -- are now a larger source of capital for the developing world than governmental aid programs. Keep an eye on these sorts of efforts.
(Thanks, Bruce!)

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I'd heard of citizenship offers as well to ex-pats and so on, but I don't know how true it is. If it is true, I wouldn't mind having another citizenship. :)

Posted by: Taran on 12 Jan 04



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