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Indian diaspora can promote country’s soft power and cultural diplomacy

Parliament Panel in its recommendations considered a series of measures to serve Indian diaspora’s interest and welfare outside their home country.

A gathering of Indian diaspora at the Howdy Modi event in Houston. Image (File -2019) - Twitter/ Narendra Modi

The enormous and diverse Indian diaspora presents a great opportunity for the promotion of India’s soft power and cultural diplomacy abroad, the Indian Parliament Committee on External Affairs noted in its report on Indian diaspora,  which was released on April 3, 2023.

The 21st report underlined actions taken by the Indian Government on the observations/recommendations contained in the fifteenth report of the Committee on the subject ‘Welfare of Indian Diaspora: Policies/Schemes.’ As per the report, about eighty per cent of recommendations have been accepted by the government.

In the latest report, the Committee recommended one-stop centres for distressed Indian women; registration of migrant workers and students abroad with Indian missions/posts; expansion of the outreach of the Overseas Citizenship of  India  (OCI) Scheme and others.

It called for active and effective participation of the State Governments to ensure the welfare of the Indian community abroad. Additionally, to ensure participation, the Committee urged the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to  organize  more ‘Videsh  Sampark’  programmes prioritizing  states which are migration hotspots. The one-of-a-kind events instill awareness among stakeholders and officials about the programmes, schemes and initiatives launched by the government with regard to consular and passport services, and also about issues concerning the diaspora.

On Global Indian Students’ most pertaining concerns of fake universities and fraudulent agents, the Committee recommended setting up a Global Indian Students’ Portal (GISP) to "facilitate the students to take an informed decision while selecting courses in universities abroad.”

Regarding the issues of  thousands of Indian students who were pursuing medical and other courses in Ukraine and China, the Committee suggested the MEA to work with the  Ministry  of  Health  &  Family Welfare (MoHFW)  and allow returnee students from to enroll in Indian private medical institutions on a one-time exemption basis to complete their  courses and to facilitate the return of Indian students to China for resumption of in- person classes for those who desire so.

The Parliamentary Panel noted that the Indian Missions/Posts abroad work with the motto ‘Indian Embassies: Home away from Home’ to reach out to Indian Abroad including students.