Diaspora in India’s Foreign Policy and National Security

Published Date:   Friday, Nov 08, 2013

International Seminar  titled  ‘Diaspora in India’s Foreign Policy and National Security: A comparative Perspective’ was organized by Organization for Diaspora Initiatives(ODI) in collaboration with India International Centre and Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on 6th and 7th November,2013  at India International Centre, New Delhi.  The seminar was inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. The former ambassador J.C.Sharma who was chair  of conference organizing committee welcomed the gathering. Introduction to the conference was given by   Prof. Ajay Dubey, Academic Convener of the conference and president of Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI). Finally, vote of thanks was proposed by Prof.S.N.Malakar, School of International Studies, Jawahar lal Nehru University.

While giving his inaugural address, Mr. Khurshid dwelt upon the role of diasporas of the world on their origin countries. He argued that the demand for ‘dual nationality’ of Diaspora should be looked critically.  He cautioned that the role of Diaspora in politics should be kept in low profile. He outlined that there is asymmetrical relationship between Diaspora and homeland. He mentioned that  while talking about minority of India,  we do not take into account the diasporas who are living in India, they are not taking part in public life of India. He gave the example of Chinese Indian community who are living in West Bengal.

During his welcome speech, J.C.Sharma  analysed the presence of Diaspora has implications for foreign policy  and national security of India. He illustrated the following a few cases such as the Khalistan movement, Kashmir issue, HINDRAF issue in Malaysia to substantiate his argument. Further, he  discussed about the radicalization of Indian youths in Gulf countries for triggering terrorism activities. He finally pointed out Indian Diaspora as a strategic asset. When Prof. Dubey introduced the conference, he explained about the purpose of the conference and various initiatives of ODI. He said that the purpose of the seminar is to look at the relationship between Diaspora and the foreign policy of India. Further, he revealed that they were overwhelming response from international and local scholars who were numbering around thirty two from the countries like the United States, Europe, Singapore and Malaysia along with local scholars from different parts of India.

The seminar looked into the following dimensions: Linkages of Indian foreign policy and Diaspora policy; Implications of Diaspora for national security; Linkages of Diaspora and Terrorism; Diaspora and socio-political changes having a bearing on national security; changing nature of Indian Diaspora policy as part of foreign policy; the influence of Indian Diaspora on the foreign policy of India and bilateral relations with countries of their settlement; Diaspora as a strategic asset. The conference had eight different technical sessions based on the theme of the conference. The discussants made valuable remarks on the papers and there was an active intervention from the participants during two days of the conference. 

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