CHENNAI: In the five-year period from 2010 to 2015, India displaced Russia as the country with the largest diaspora in the world, as per UN data on migrants for 2015. While the UAE, with its job opportunities for all sections of people, tops as the preferred destination for India-born migrants, the US that lets in only highly qualified professional Indians, is today home to nearly 20 lakh people born in India.
Australia, which is on the other corner of the globe, comes high up on the list with 4 lakh Indians. Even tiny Bermuda hasn’t escaped the attention of emigrating Indians. Some 500 Indians live there. Between 1990 and 2010, Russia was topping the list of migrants but its diaspora was concentrated in a few countries like Israel.
Paradoxically enough, the spike in Indian migration happened after the country’s economy moved into a high-growth path. In 2000, India equalled Russia in migrant outflow with 10.8 million each. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of migrants from India dipped by 0.3% but after 2005, the number has been increasing steadily.
Today, a total of 15.6 million people born in India are living across all continents. The rate of migration to foreign countries has increased by half compared to 10 years ago.
Observers see Indian migration as helping world economies. “Indian migrants to the US have been a great asset for the world. Their contribution to development of information technology has been useful to various sections. Similarly in Gulf countries, many Indians are in the managerial cadre and their contribution has been immensely appreciated,” former diplomat G Parthasarathi told TOI.
Indians working as construction labourers are also most sought after by companies in the Gulf. “Indian labourers are highly disciplined and they are ready to jobs which Europeans or people from developed countries may find it tough to do,” said Parthasarathi.
In 2005, 10.5 million migrated from India and the number went up to 13.3 million at the end of 2010, an increase of 26%.
Between 2010 and 2015, the numbers increased by 17.5%, says the UN report. The number of Indians who migrated rose 18% in 2015 from 8.5 million in 2010. The number of women rose 15% from 4.8 million in 2010 to 5.5 million in 2015.
“Migrants from South Asia totalled 37.1 million, of whom 20.6% were living in Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and nearly 43% were in high-income non-OECD countries (such as the GCC). The largest source countries of migrants were India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. The region hosted 12.4 million migrants, the majority of whom were from within the region,” says Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 of the World Bank.
The factbook says south-south migration is larger than south-north migration. Over 38% of the international migrants in 2013 migrated from developing countries to other developing countries, compared to 34% that moved from developing countries to advanced countries. The top 10 migrant destination countries were the US, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, UAE, UK, France, Canada, Spain and Australia.