Indian Diaspora

A Diaspora derived from a Greek word diaspeirien meaning scattering or dispersion. It is a scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographic area. The word can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland. In other words it is a dispersion of a people from their original homeland. The term was first applied collectively to the Jews scattered after the Babylonian captivity, and in the modern people to Jews living outside Palestine, but now has been extended to include the situation of ant widely spread migrant group.

The term “diaspora” originates from the Greek “dia” (over) and “speiro” (to sow). The Greeks understood diaspora as migration and colonization of new lands. In modern parlance the term diaspora usually refers to ethnic groups whose sizable parts have lived outside their country of origin for at least several generations, while maintaining some ties (even if purely symbolic or sentimental) to the historic homeland.

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The “classic” diasporas in terms of the ancient history of dispersion are Jewish, Armenian, and Greek; the more modern (and also more numerous) diasporas include the African (“Black American”) diaspora resulting from the forced migration of slaves to the Americas, and Irish, Italian, Polish, Chinese, and Indian diasporas resulting from voluntary migrations. Today the word diaspora is applied to a broad range of migrant populations whose current or historic uprooting was politically or economically motivated, including political refugees, voluntary migrants, guest workers, expatriates, stable ethnic minorities, and other dispersed groups.

History of Indian Diaspora. An attempt to understand the movement of people from India since ancient times to contemporary period is a fascinating story of cultural exchanges that the people of India have with the rest of the world. The Indian classical texts describe about long journeys that saints and monks undertook for the spread of knowledge, peace and love. The archeological evidences establish the fact that Indians during ancient period did travel to other countries for trade.

The spread of Hindu and Buddhist believes across geographical boundaries of India during the early medieval period saw the emergence of Hindu and Buddhist Kingdoms in several places. The navigational skills of people along the Indian coastal cities helped the rulers to expand the horizons of their Kingdoms. The maritime activities and ship building techniques that existed in that period reveal the movement of Indians to classical Greco Roman world. The movement of people resulted in the formation of Gypsies or Rromas of today are still shrouded in mystery.

There were large scale movement of people occurred when Islam arrived in India. During this period those rulers who returned to their countries after plundering India took thousands of men and women as artists, architects, calligraphers, musicians, dancers, courtesans along with other wealth. The Mughal period saw the active journey’s Indians took to several countries as emissaries, traders, scholars, artists, musicians. During the colonial period Indians were traded as slaves by Portuguese, Dutch, French and English imperialists.

The Indians were taken to various countries as indentured labourers to develop plantation economies, construct railway networks and to serve as soldiers in the imperial military establishments. Large number of traders and professionals also accompanied these labourers and soldiers. The first set of scholars and academics came out from the universities of independent India migrated to western countries for advanced studies and research form the first diaspora in modern period.

The migration of Indians as professionals, labourers and traders to rest of the world is a continuing saga of Indian Migration. The Indian Diaspora is a generic term used to describe the people who migrated from territories that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India. In this globalized world, millions of people live outside their country of origin. Today, almost every country has a diaspora and almost every ethnic/religious/cultural group has a diaspora somewhere in the world.

Indian diaspora and long distance nationalism. Long-distance nationalism is a set of identity claims and practices that connect people living in various geographical locations to a specific territory that they see as their ancestral home. Long-Distance Nationalism came about when members of a diaspora would decide to support their homeland’s struggles. The immigrants being citizens of a state different than their homeland have been known to show little citizenship participation towards their homelands.

However, they normally feel more of an attachment to their homelands than to where they currently live, which then leads them to support the struggles in their homeland. They tend to participate in the current conflicts of their homelands by propaganda, money, and weapons, any way besides voting. National borders are not thought to delimit membership in the nation; the members of the nation may live anywhere around the world. More often than not the concept of long distance nationalism has a negative connotation and is usually used to describe the relationship between diasporas and conflict.

Diasporas are considered marginal groups who do not give up easily on matters that are related to homelands and conflicts and they usually are reluctant to make concessions for peace At this point it is worth quoting Anderson’s paragraph at length from his famous chapter on long-distance nationalism: “…today’s long distance nationalism strikes one as a probably menacing portent for the future. First of all, it is the product of capitalism’s remorseless, accelerating transformation of all human societies. Second, it creates a serious politics that is at the same time radically unaccountable.

The participant rarely pays taxes in the country in which he does his politics; he is not answerable to its judicial system; he probably does not cast even an absentee ballot in its elections because he is a citizen in a different place; he need not fear prison, torture or death, nor need his immediate family. ” (Anderson, 1998:74) Nationalism is one of the most pressing of global problems, exacerbating ethnic conflicts and increasing the likelihood of war. It is also basic to defining the rights of democratic citizenship, and can be a source of inspiration and social solidarity.

Let us take for example NRI’S – non- resident Indian. An Indian citizen who stays abroad for employment/ carrying on business or vacation outside India or stay abroad under circumstances indicating an intention to stay abroad is a non resident. He will still celebrate Indian festivals such as diwali, raksha bandhan. They will celebrate the Indian Independence Day etc. Indians living abroad celebrate their cultures and traditions and enjoy it immensely as it reminds them of their homeland and the times they spent there.

Even if their children have never been to India they will try and impart as much of their culture and beliefs into them. Indians, the world over are proud of their rich heritage, meaningful rituals and deep-rooted traditions. They strive to celebrate their indianess as living abroad can often be lonely and difficult to adjust to. Celebrating Indian festivals, following traditions etc are comforting to them. This is why Indian communities abroad try to maintain a strong bond and collectively try to make living abroad more comfortable for each other by keeping their roots alive.

Diaspora is prominent in south East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and also in Japan. Singapore has one of the largest oversees Indian population. Most of these people are Tamil but Malayalam, Telugu, Punjabi and Guajarati speaking people are also present. The vast majority are now completely assimilated in the mainstream society, though some elements of Tamil, Sikh, and Bihari communities still maintain their customs and traditions. The success of Indian movies at the global level since the late 1990s has attracted much scholarly attention.

And it is generally conceded that for Indian immigrants living across the globe, movies from India are an essential part of their popular culture. In fact, according to some social scientists, the most important “binding element” among diasporic Indians is Bollywood culture. Scholars are quick to suggest that we should not underestimate the impact of Bollywood culture on the Indian diaspora. For example :- Bollywood movies like Dilwale Duhania le jayenge , Kuch kuch hota hai, Jodha Akbar, Namestay London and Slumdog millionaire are some Bollywood movies that have traces of Indian diaspora and long distance nationalism in it.

Such movies in the Bollywood cinema play a crucial role in connecting Indian diasporic communities all over the world. Indians living abroad long to watch Bollywood movies because it gives them a feeling of belongingness it bind the Indian diaspora. Hence such movies abroad work very well economically. Conclusion The Internet revolution has brought about new levels of global interconnectedness, often resulting in the rise of a new global consciousness.

Today we are living in an increasingly networked world and online social networking is emerging as one of the most popular methods for people to connect with each other. This is how the Indian diaspora, which comprises more than 20 million people living outside India try to communicate and connect with people from their homeland. They use social media platforms like Facebook, Orkut as an alternative space for the diaspora to engage in identity and construction of the community and which on several occasions serve to provide the support structure of a virtual family away from home. Bibliography. * Craig J. Calhoun – Nationalism. * Daniele Conversi – Irresponsible Radicalization: Diasporas, Globalization and Long-Distance Nationalism in the Digital Age http://www. academia. edu/1770117/Irresponsible_Radicalisation_Diasporas_Globalisation_and_Long-Distance_Nationalism_in_the_Digital_Age * Stateless diasporas and their long distance nationalist activism in host countries http://www. jhubc. it/ecpr-porto/virtualpaperroom/036. pdf * http://www. springerreference. com/docs/html/chapterdbid/44683. html * http://www. sociologycs. com/diaspora. htm


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