Today, New India’s Gen-Next—the Indian diaspora—is going all over the world with their head held high—a phenomenon that was almost impossible a decade ago. In just less than five years, the visionary leadership of Narendra Modi has ushered in a Naya Bharat which by 2030 will overpower China as the world’s second largest economy
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी
As this famous Sanskrit saying goes, mother and motherland are higher than even heaven in Indic Civilisation. For most Indians, this has been the life mantra and the manifestation of this mantra is as visible among Indian citizens as it is in the Indian diaspora.
NRIs voice support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for General Elections 2019
Most members of the Indian diaspora have a ardent devotion and abiding affinity towards Bharat Mata, the Motherland. This feeling is etched into their consciousness as part of civilisational memory. Each and every part of the nation – its myths; its lore; its sacred geography, the mountains, the rivers, the forests, its villages and towns—they are all linked to this memory that acts as a gravitational pull as well as an inseparable bond for most Indians. As Diana Eck writes in her ‘India: A Sacred Geography’, “The land bears traces of gods and the footprints of heroes. Every place has its own story, and conversely, every story in the vast storehouse of myth and legend has its place.” This is the pull that makes VS Naipaul, the Nobel Laureate, visit India, the land of his ancestors, several times searching for his identity. He reportedly even applied for the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status.
Like any diaspora group, most Indian’s personal and collective identity-conflation is closely linked in a shared sense of vulnerabilities and anxieties concerning the political, social, and economic well-being of India. It is, therefore, quite understandable that the involvement of the Indian diaspora in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The last five years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-lead NDA Government has witnessed a large-scale transformation in India in almost all fields. The Indian economic growth rate has consistently ranked the highest among the world’s large economies, and India is poised to become the top three economies of the world in the next few years. Poverty has declined rapidly over the last few years. India is no longer home to the largest poor population in the world. According to the recent World Bank estimate, just over 5% population in India now lives in extreme poverty.
On the other front, Modi’s flagship Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Abhiyan was launched on October 2, 2014, with its stated goal of making India clean by 2019 by ensuring universal sanitation coverage. Since its launch, the Mission has built a total of 9,24,59,045 household toilets across the length and breadth of the country. As of now, a total of 5,55,544 villages, 616 districts, and 30 states have been declared open defecation free. Additionally, the government also committed to clean Mother Ganga by 2020 through its NAMAMI Gange Mission. The results of government’s efforts were on full display during the recently concluded Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj where a much cleaner Ganga Maiya added to the overall divine spiritual experience.
Another of PM Modi’s social welfare programme with wide-ranging impact on the overall health of women and children is the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. The Yojana, with its commitment to provide clean cooking fuel, the LPG, seeks to ensure a safe and non-smoky cooking environment to women and kids. Launched on May 1, 2016, the Yojana has distributed more than seven crore LPG connections.
The SAUBHAGYA and the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana are schemes under which the government seeks to provide round the clock electricity supply to all households. According to the SAUBHAGYA website, there are only about 20,000 households yet to be electrified.
PM Modi also launched the world’s largest government-funded healthcare scheme. The ambitious programme aims to provide healthcare coverage to over ten crore urban and rural low-income families. The scheme received kudos from the Microsoft co-founder and one of the world’s top philanthropists Bill Gates. The financial inclusion scheme of Jan Dhan Yojana, on the other hand, has provided financial services, credit, and remittance access to millions of Indians who were previously left hanging on the margins.
Similarly, several infrastructure projects including highway development, construction of bridges, railways, waterways, ports, metro rail projects, airports, have been taken up on a war footing that have produced positive results. India’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index has improved significantly. It currently (2018) ranks 77th among 190 countries, a significant improvement from a previous 130th in 2016. India’s forex reserve rose earlier this month to a record $399.21 billion.
The Modi Government also took several steps in governance reform. Demonetisation and GST were some of the structural reforms that laid the foundation of a more robust and transparent economy and governance. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy law passed by the government is a one-stop solution to resolving insolvency in business.
So, when the elections to the 17th Lok Sabha were announced earlier this month, there was a sense of excitement in the Indian diaspora. The diaspora, by and large, sees this election as a turning point where India is seen as poised to reclaim its position of prominence on the world stage.
India is one of the longest surviving indigenous civilisations whose recorded history dates several thousand years beyond the Common Era. As a knowledge civilisation based in the Indus-Saraswati River Valley, India produced some of the most beautiful works in science, art, architecture, medicine, literature, philosophy, and linguistics. Before the coming ashore of the British colonialists, India has always been one of the top two economies of the world with a thriving trade and commerce across the globe. However, years of loot, plunder, destruction, and genocide, first during the Islamic invasion and then during the colonial period, left India a ‘wounded civilisation’—defeated and stagnant.
The all-round development in India during the last five years of the Modi Government has reinvigorated all Indians, including the expats. They see these developments as a launching pad for a healthy and vibrant India, and they are roaring to be a part of this reinvention process.
Most members of the Indian diaspora are mostly economic migrants who left India for better opportunities abroad. These included educational and employment opportunities along with a very high quality of life. The predominant Nehruvian socialist model that India employed post Independence failed to create an environment of economic prosperity. A society that considers wealth creation as one of the four (artha, dharm, kama, and moksha) ‘purusharthas’, the object of human pursuit was left in abject poverty first due to colonial plunder and then with the adoption of the socialist model.
Similarly, cronyism and corruption meant that the scant opportunities, be it in the field of education, business, trade and commerce, employment, were restricted to a select few and or even denied.
The opening up of India’s economy to the world in the 1990s under the visionary leadership of the Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao altered India’s course from where it hasn’t looked back ever since. The policies of the Narendra Modi government during the last five years have improved the situation manifold. It has put India in a different league altogether.
Beyond unprecedented economic expansion during the last few years notwithstanding a couple of disruptive policies with long-term positive implications, there have been several other intangible positive developments as well.
One such positive development has been in the realm of confidence. Today’s India is holding its head high with the level of confidence ever witnessed in the recent past. There has been a growing awareness of its glorious history coupled with current achievements. Such determination has helped the Indian diaspora to carve out a niche for itself in the countries they live and work. With this new-found confidence, they are able to fight well-entrenched discrimination and bias more effectively. Similarly, with the growing clout of India, they can take on legislative initiatives that affect their community in the country of domicile more effectively.
These are some of the technological and socio-economic developments including in the fields of life expectancy, educational excellence, and average income in their homeland that gets the Indian diaspora excited about Mother India. These factors not only give them a sense of pride but it also affects them favourably in their country of current domicile in improving their own standing in governance and policy formulation.
( The writer is JNU and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus. He frequently writes in several media outlets on the topics of Indic Knowledge Tradition, Language, Culture, and Current Affairs. He is based in the US)