Augmenting India’s Soft Power
With the growing number of Indians now travelling to and settled abroad, there is the need for quality Passports and Consular services. The VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, says that an increasing number of Indians living away from their home country are benefiting from its services. “Our passports and consular services offering caters to over 7 million Indians across nine countries, — UK, US, Thailand, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, France, and Australia, on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. As per United Nations data for international migration , over 280 million individuals live and work outside their home country and we are now working with 18 governments to provide this essential service in 36 countries” says Jiten Vyas, Chief Commercial Officer of VFS Global. “We also cater to the growing diasporic population worldwide, through our Citizen and Identity Services portfolio that provides secure, and biometric-enabled services in a variety of application areas such as programmes around national IDs, permits and licensing, apart from passport services,” he adds.
The surge in migration also accelerated the demand for document legalisation, birth, death, and marriage registration, and driving licence renewals among others. The VFS Global infrastructure (/topic/vfs-global-infrastructure) is equipped with a multilingual call centre with trained staff managing email and call queries. The service has also helped governments deliver safe, high-quality services to expatriates in a hassle-free and convenient manner, wherever they are in the world. Leveraging on its robust experience in the visa application processing domain, and an extensive global network in over 400 cities and over 140 countries, VFS Global provides governments with holistic, administrative solutions for processing passport applications and provisions of efficient consular services.
“This portfolio has grown seamlessly because we could easily replicate our unique value proposition as the market leader in the visa applications outsourcing sector in this domain,” according to Vyas.
It may be noted that the Indian Diaspora, according to the latest available data, now stands at 31.2 million, of which PIOs were 17 million and NRIs were 13 million, spread across 146 countries in the world. Between 2000 and 2020, the size of the Indian diaspora grew by nearly 10 million, the largest in the world.
India’s Diaspora is mainly distributed across the United Arab Emirates (3.5 million), the United States of America (2.7 million), and Saudi Arabia (2.5 million). Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Kingdom also host a significant number of Indian migrants.
According to Global Migration Report 2020, India continues to be the largest country of origin of international migrants with a 17.5 million-strong diaspora across the world, and it received the highest remittance of $78.6 billion (this amounts to a whopping 3.4% of India’s GDP) from Indians living abroad.
The opportunities that Indian diaspora brings for India are as follows:
– They serve as an important ‘bridge’ to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of origin with the rest of the world.
– Indian Diaspora is an important part of India’s “soft diplomacy” or “diaspora diplomacy”. For example, the Indian Diaspora played a critical role in the fructification of the Indo-US Nuclear deal.
– They have also contributed to the growth and development of the country of their residence. For example, Silicon Valley represents the success of Indians.
– The Indian Diaspora has played an important role in the field of Science & Technology.
– They are a significant source of trade and investment in India.
– They are the source of large inflows of remittances, which has been helping balance the current account. According to the World Bank, Indian Diaspora is the largest earner of remittances in the world currently. The World Bank Report says that India received approximately 87 billion dollars in remittances in 2021 with the USA being the biggest source, accounting for over 20% of these funds.
– They spread the Indian Culture and traditions abroad benefitting India in general. Example: Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian Cuisine etc.
– NRI’s also finance educational institutions or businesses, which again adds to the economy’s sectors. Reports suggest that these NRI’s are a major source of Foreign Direct Investment, Market Development (Outsourcing) and technology transfer, that boost the assets of the fiscal system, every day.
Considering all this, there is now an unanimous view that Diasporas are symbols of a nation’s pride and represent India internationally. They help in building the country’s value internationally through their huge success stories. The Diaspora’s ability to spread Indian soft power, lobby for India’s national interests, and contribute economically to India’s rise is now well-recognized.