Call for Papers: Diaspora in India's Foreign Policy and National Security: A Comparative Perspective 6–7 November 2013, New Delhi

The Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI), New Delhi, in cooperation with the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the India International Centre (IIC) are inviting paper proposals for the international academic conference on “Diaspora in India's Foreign Policy and National Security: A Comparative Perspective”, to be held on 6–7 November 2013 in New Delhi.

Proposals (up to 250 words) should be submitted by 5 August 2013. Selected conference papers will be published in a special issue of the academic journal Diaspora Studies.

Diaspora and Foreign Policy

Emigration had always repercussions for the source country’s relationship with the countries of destination. However, only in the last few decades have states the world over made explicit attempts to draw their emigrant populations—their diasporas—into the framework of their foreign policy. Thus, the emergence of ‘diaspora policies’ by countries in all regions of the world have highlighted the need to examine emigration phenomena and diaspora-home state relations from the viewpoint of international relations (IR) theory.

There is a growing interest to understand the interlinkages between country of origin governments, diasporic communities, and their host countries. Apart from the significance of diasporic communities for economic development and cooperation, diasporas are increasingly conceptualized as strategic assets by their respective home governments. However, there are significant gaps in our understanding, in the theoretical conceptualizations of the relationships and the empirical underpinnings.

The response to diaspora challenges and opportunities by Indian state institutions are of particular interest to understand these dynamics. While the conference focuses on the Indian perspective, contributions are encouraged that provides insights on the key issues of the conference from a comparative perspective.

The Indian government has established one of the most comprehensive systems of ‘diaspora governance’ with a multitude of different policies at the central, as well as at the regional level. These range from large diaspora conferences—the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas—, special membership categories, such as the Person of Indian Origin Card and the Overseas Citizenship of India, to specific cultural, investment, and educational programmes that involve special services for diaspora youths, publications and cultural events.

In a historic perspective, the emigration and foreign policy of pre-independence British India was influenced by the interests of the U.K. and other colonial powers and facilitated migration of indentured labour and workers to colonies controlled by the British and other European powers. It has not been sufficiently explored how post-colonial theory can enhance our understanding of current challenges of diasporas in international relations. How have policy values and ideas associated with anti-colonial struggles, such as the Non-alignment Movement, shaped the feasible options for countries’ diaspora options? And what explains India’s policy stance toward problems people of Indian origin faced in Burma, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Fiji and elsewhere?

As a positive example for the importance of the diaspora in international relations, the U.S. Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans is of relevance which includes more than a third of all U.S. lawmakers, as well as the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC). Indian-American advocacy efforts reportedly played a significant role in the signing of the U.S.-India agreement for civil nuclear cooperation in 2008, in lobbying for the removal of U.S. sanctions in the aftermath of India’s nuclear tests in 1998, as well as on other occasions.

Diaspora and National Security

Another often overlooked aspect is the link between diaspora and security issues. Members of the diaspora can become a part of foreign or a country’s own intelligence agencies and can help transferring of sensitive materials and technologies. Pakistan’s intelligence service ISI is reported to recruit Indian citizens in the Gulf for its operations, collaborate with diasporic Indians, such as Tahhavur Rana, and use migrants, such as American David Headley in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. In addition, diaspora networks often rely on informal havala banking which Government institutions see as a potential for financing terrorist and illegal activities in the country.

In short, the conference aims at exploring under what conditions diasporic populations can be integrated into a foreign policy framework, when they are perceived to be liabilities and how the country of origin’s policy system attempted to harness the positive aspects, while minimizing the liability aspects. While the conference focuses on India and the Indian diaspora, contributions are welcome that draw on other countries and diaspora populations to shed light on the key topics. The following issues will be explored during the conference:

  • Bane or boon? India’s and other Countries’ Diaspora as a Strategic Asset for Foreign Policy
    • Influence of diasporic actors on bilateral relations with countries of their settlement;
    • Diasporic lobbying, ethnic interest groups and foreign policy;
    • Diasporic actions and India’s soft power.
  • Linkages of Foreign Policy and Diaspora Policy in India and other countries
    • Alignment and misalignment of policy objectives;
    • Institutional and ideational changes in state institutions and the Foreign Service.
  • Exploring the links between Diaspora Populations and National Security
    • Linkages between diaspora & terrorism;
    • Security concerns in diaspora policies.

Deadlines and practicalities

Abstracts for papers (up to 250 words) should be submitted by 5 August 2013.

There is no registration fee and free boarding will be provided to all presenters. In addition, free accommodation during the conference is available at the Jawaharlal Nehru University guest house. Please indicate your need for such services when submitting your paper proposal. At this time, there is no travel support available for participants.

For paper submissions and any further information regarding the seminar please contact the academic convenors Prof. Ajay Dubey and Daniel Naujoks at [email protected] or [email protected].

Time and Place:

Date:   Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013
Venue:   India International Centre
Address:   The Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI), New Delhi
City/Twon:   New Delhi
© 2012-20 GRFDT, All Rights Reserved.Maintained by GRFDT.Designed by Abhinav Jain