Ask a regular ‘proud’ Indian, what they love the most about the country, and you will find a string of different answers coming your way. It is perhaps the most diverse nation in the world, with its vast range of ethnicities, cultures, languages etc. Surely, the countrymen are proud. However, one question seems to hit the back of the mind. If India is as brilliant as these people say, why is it that more and more citizens continue to move and settle abroad?
The emigration scenario
According to the United Nations Population Division, out of emigrants all around the world, India has the highest number of people. In other words, Indian-origin emigrants constitute the largest proportion in the world. According to the same study, at least 15 million Indians are currently living abroad, a number larger than the population of Singapore and Switzerland combined together. In contrast, the number of Indian emigrants stood at 6.5 million in 1990.
Clearly, India is a major “superpower” in migration mobility. However, that can only be said for emigration. The number of immigrants in the country have actually observed a decline from 7.5 million in 1990 to 5.2 million.
Who are the people leaving India?
While having the highest number of emigrants to its name, India has simultaneously emerged as a major source of workforce worldwide. For example, amongst all the European countries, UK observes the largest number of Indian citizens settling there. This “diaspora” of Indians belongs to one of the most educated, high earning capacity groups. According to further data from the Pew Research Center, religious minorities from India are more likely to migrate to the rest of the world. For instance, a staggering 19% of the Indian emigrants were Christian, as compared to only 3% of the Christian population in the country.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) accounts for the largest numbers of Indian emigrants residing there. Over 2 million Indians live in the country, making up of over 27% population of UAE. Of these, about one-third of the migrants have settled there for labor opportunities.
Interestingly, however, despite being the largest source of emigrants, India has one of the world’s lowest emigration rates – about 1%. The reason is simple – the tremendous population number of the country. It will take another good share of Indians migrating abroad to bring its emigration rates at par with the global emigration rate (3%).
Why are Indians increasingly leaving the country?
While a big chunk of our population settles down in foreign countries to get access to better education, others do it for better job opportunities. Foreign institutions are more often than not seen as a better alternative to our education system. Indian parents are known to think highly of “outside the country” institutes, and there has been an increasing trend of people leaving the nation for graduate/post-graduate education.
Moreover, for those who have already attained a good education, it is more lucrative to work in a foreign nation, especially the developed countries. Countries like United States, United Kingdom etc are observing more and more Indians shifting there because of the higher pay-scale promised.
Emigration- the complete picture
As the mobility of people increases internationally, one thing is certain- migration is a very important component of the picture. Human resources are considered the most powerful assets of a country, rightly so. Hence, a large chunk of India’s workforce settling down in different countries naturally has important implications. What are they?
According to the findings by Pew Research Centre, about $69 Billion in the form of remittances were sent to the country by the Indian migrants- 3% (approximately) of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Presently, India receives more remittances from migrants than any other nation. Of course, this contribution is significant to the country’s economy. However, there is a flip side to the coin as well.
Brain-drain: The increasing emigration statistics raise concerns for many thinkers of the country. Why? A lot of Indians, after completing their education in India, shift abroad for making a career. The country’s resources providing their services outside is known as “brain drain”. Yes, the concerned people generally do send a large amount of remittance, as mentioned earlier, but they are increasing the overall efficiency of foreign companies.
Increasing efforts are being made to encourage the youth of India to stay within the country, and make a career here. But that will only be possible when the job opportunities of the nation strive to be as good as the ones outside.