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Q.) Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries' economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South-East Asia in this context. [Answer in 250 Words]
Brief introduction to Indian Diaspora
- Indian diaspora is the largest in the world, with a population of around 30 million (MEA estimates).
- One fifth of this population is concentrated in South East Asian countries.
- In pursuance of India's Act East Policy, the Diaspora acts as link between India and ASEAN.
- Thus, Indian Community in these countries has helped build linkages and transnational networks which are not only emotional and familial, but also economical and social.
BODY PART 1
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF ECONOMIC ROLE
- Labour based Indian community in Malaysia, Myanmar has contributed to development of these economies. There exist labour unions across these countries, thus having considerable influence and role in these economies.
- Non labouring middle class in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia have been instrumental in development of through their work as administrators, clerks, supervisors, teachers, doctors, policemen.
- For example heavy investment by the Indian community in Indonesia in 60s, 70s, significantly contributed to Indonesian textile industry, making it a major exporter. Similarly, in Thailand, traders in real estate, gems , jewellery can be seen.
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF ECONOMIC ROLE
- In recent times, one can also see the new generation of professionals working in banking and finance sectors as well as IT. For example Singapore IT industry is being fuelled by Indian community. Also one can see significant Indian Contribution to scientific research in biotechnology, medical research.
- A similar influence can be seen in the social sphere as well, which can be explained as follows:
BODY PART 2
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF SOCIAL ROLE
- Across, south east Asian countries, Indian community is quite active culturally. The cultural and historical linkages between the two region have led to significant infusion of Indian culture in these societies. For example Ramayana, Buddhism can be seen as important links and influences
- Major Indian cultural and religious festivals are organised across countries like Vietnam, Lao, Thailand, Singapore. It has adapted and integrated well in the society
- Bollywood popularisation in the region can also be contributed to the Indian community. Similarly, Tamil, Punjabi , Sindhi cuisines have been integrated and can be seen popular across these countries.
BODY PART 3
CRITICAL ASPECTS OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC ROLE
- Thus, while Indian Community has had considerable influence and role in socio-economic development of these countries. There also exists certain challenges.
- Majority of population in countries like Malaysia, Myanmar are involved in manual work with negligible economic or political clout.
- Also, there have been instances of ethnic violence against Indian community due to cultural clashes.
- In Singapore, issues like delayed payment of wages, underpaid software engineers, inconsistent employment contracts have been raised.
- Facilitative bilateral economic policies can be developed for new age entrepreneurial Indian diaspora. For example 10 year economic policy for entrepreneurs in Malayasia, Singapore, etc.
- Indian diaspora has been demanding consistent employment contracts, timely payment of wages. Thus, this can be met by advocating demands at foras like ASEAN-India forums.
- For better understanding of markets, increased interaction between ASEAN board of investment and FICCI can also be promoted.
- Thus, linkages between India and South east Asia can be further consolidated and strengthened through active engagement, and cooperation via Track 1, Track 2 diplomacy to address challenges faced by the Indian community. This will not only contribute to socio economic development of region but will further add up to the stability and security of South East Asia.