India’s diaspora of 15 million plus is largest in the world

India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world, slightly more than 15.6 million people from India are living overseas. India’s diaspora constitutes 6% of the total number of international migrants (persons living outside the country of their birth) which was 243 million in 2015. This worldwide figure has risen by 10% as compared to 2010.

In other words, out of a global population of 7.3 billion, one in every 30 people was a migrant in 2015. However, if computed as a percentage of the world’s population, the growth of the diaspora has been largely static, rising from 3.2% in 2010 to 3.3% in 2015, according to the ‘World Migration Report (2018)’, published by the International Organisation for Migration – an agency of the UN.

This report, adds that nearly half of all the international migrants worldwide in 2015, were born in Asia – primarily originating from India (the largest country of origin), China and other South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. At a global level, following India, Mexico is the second largest country of origin. Russia, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan follow suit. Further, a significant chunk of the international migrant population (nearly 72%) are of working age, between 20 to 64 years.

Traditionally since 1970, the US has been the main country of destination for international migrants. The number of foreign born people residing in the US has almost quadrupled from less than 12 million in 1970 to 46.6 million in 2015 (of which nearly 2 million were of Indian origin).

For Indians, apart from the US, the Gulf nations house a significant chunk of the Indian diaspora — nearly 3.5 million or 22% of the total Indian diaspora were in the UAE, and 1.9 million (or 12%) in Saudi Arabia.

According to immigration experts, protectionist measures adopted in these and in other countries, will impact yearly migration, and will eventually transform the diaspora landscape in the years to come. We are currently witnessing intense vetting of H-1B applications by the US immigration authorities. H-1B is the most popular work visa for Indians headed to the US, and entry into the US is likely to get stricter. The number of migrants to the Gulf region has drastically dipped in recent years, owing to economic conditions and protectionist measures adopted by these countries.

The pan-India emigration clearance to the Gulf countries during 2016, of merely 5.07 lakh was a significant decline of 33% as compared to the previous calendar year and this declining trend has continued in 2017. International migrants continue to contribute significantly to their countries of origin by way of foreign remittances.

In 2016, India, China, Philippines, Mexico and Pakistan were the top five remittance recipient countries. China and India were well above the rest, with total inward remittances exceeding $ 60 billion.

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