THE GLOBAL FAMILY
The rise of a prosperous, confident overseas Indian community since the late 1980s has changed the image of the pravasi (overseas) community in India. Overseas Indians have become visible internationally as many of them have reached heights of success, finding a place in the lists of international leaders in their areas of expertise.
The Indian diaspora is formed of numerous layers and segments that correspond to the time of migration, the place of origin in India and the country of settlement. Overseas Indians are descendants of migrants who went to Malaysia, Sri Lanka and other South East Asian countries, and as indentured workers travelled to Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Suriname, South Africa and Fiji. They are first generation migrants to Britain, Canada, America and other countries around the world. In each country where they settled, migrant Indians had a different experience as they strove to create an economic and political space for themselves in the host society.
A successful, prosperous and politically influential diaspora is an asset to India, acting as a vibrant bridge between two countries and adding vigour to their bilateral relations. Both India and the diaspora have something to gain from the connection, in real as well as intangible terms. The majority of the diaspora looks for cultural sustenance, to connect their children to India, the ancestral land from which they draw their ethnic identity.
Author has brought her experience and familiarity with overseas Indian communities to emphasise the need to infuse a common diasporic identity within the various segments of the overseas community with the aim of building the overseas communities into a well-networked international presence around the globe.
Shubha Singh is a journalist and has worked with two leading Indian newspapers for over two decades. It is her family's connection with Fiji Islands spanning four generations (her great grandparents went to Fiji in 1885) that has kept alive her interest in the Indian diaspora. She has lived and worked in Fiji in the 1970s when her father, Bhagwan Singh was posted as India's High Commissioner to Fiji. She has travelled extensively as a journalist, taking special interest in regions that have large settlements of overseas Indians, such as Mauritius, South Africa, the Caribbean, USA, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The May 2000 coup in Fiji led her to undertake a closer analysis of the reasons why multi-racial governments in Fiji had been overthrown twice within 13 years. In 2001 she wrote a critically acclaimed book titled Fiji: A Precarious Coalition. She has also produced a 54-minute documentary film titled Crosscurrents: A Fijian Travelogue.
Shubha Singh was awarded the Chameli Devi Award for best woman journalist in 1995 for her "perceptive and analytical writing on foreign affairs". She was the fellow of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata. She is now a columnist, writing on foreign affairs and politics for two Indian newspapers.
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The Chinese Experience
The Indenture System
Indians in the Caribbean
In the Neighbourhood
The African Experience
In the gulf Region
Identity and Assimilation
Politics and Diaspora
The Diaspora's Influence
Policy of Engagement
Maintaining the Bonds: Conclusion