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Indian Diaspora and Culture in the Indian Ocean: A basis of cultural diplomacy in the Region (Published in Indian Ocean Digest)



Cultural diplomacy is a specified form of diplomacy that encourages a deliberate effort of cultural exchange. It facilitates the understanding of foreign cultural dynamics. It is exchange of ideas, information, art, lifestyles, value systems, traditions, beliefs and other aspects of cultures. Cultural Diplomacy has existed as a practice for centuries. Explorers, travelers, teachers and artists can be all considered examples of informal ambassadors or early cultural diplomats. Cultural exchange can take place in fields including art, sport, literature, music, science and the economy. Such exchange implies communication and respect between the cultures involved, based on a sounder understanding of respective values and a reduced susceptibility to stereotypes. Cultural diplomacy plays an essential role in the integration of nations such as among the countries of African Union, League of Arab States, and European Union and so on. It helps to improve international relations and secure agreements that cover issues like trade, investment, tourism, and security. Private and public enterprises and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) often employ cultural diplomacy as a means to influence government policies for their benefit or the benefit of a given cause. 1
Indian Diaspora and Culture in the Indian Ocean: a
basis of cultural diplomacy in the Region
*Mohammed Khalid
Cultural diplomacy is a specified form of diplomacy that encourages a deliberate
effort of cultural exchange. It facilitates the understanding of foreign cultural dynamics. It
is exchange of ideas, information, art, lifestyles, value systems, traditions, beliefs and
other aspects of cultures. Cultural Diplomacy has existed as a practice for centuries.
Explorers, travelers, teachers and artists can be all considered examples of informal
ambassadors or early cultural diplomats. Cultural exchange can take place in fields
including art, sport, literature, music, science and the economy. Such exchange implies
communication and respect between the cultures involved, based on a sounder
understanding of respective values and a reduced susceptibility to stereotypes. Cultural
diplomacy plays an essential role in the integration of nations such as among the
countries of African Union, League of Arab States, and European Union and so on. It
helps to improve international relations and secure agreements that cover issues like
trade, investment, tourism, and security. Private and public enterprises and non-
governmental organisations (NGOs) often employ cultural diplomacy as a means to
influence government policies for their benefit or the benefit of a given cause.1
Individuals also
*Professor in Political Science, Department of Evening Studies, Panjab
University, Chandigarh
use cultural diplomacy to build friendships or in discussions to influence opinion about a
particular subject.
India is a cultural hub of South Asia and the oldest civilization on the Indian
Ocean littoral. Because of its long history, ancient religions, size, diversity and
ulpopulation, India is known for its ancient civilization. Its cultural and religious sites,
temples, monuments such as Taj Mahal and the Ganges in Varanasi are important
symbols of Indian culture. A fascinating mix of ancient culture, India is endowed with
enormous contrasts and architectural beauty. The Indian culture has existed through the
ages precisely for the reasons of antiquity, unity, continuity and the universality of its
nature. India has been spreading its culture in all directions. Its cultural influences can be
found in Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian republics and can be felt in almost every
country on the littoral of Indian Ocean.2 Spread of Indian culture has been a two way
process. The travelers and pilgrims came to India at different times in history and
narrated the outside world about Indian culture. But the most effective medium of spread
of Indian Culture has been the people of India who migrated to the nook and corners of
the Indian Ocean during the last millennia.
Indian Diaspora
The Indian Diaspora is a generic term to describe the people who migrated from
territories of India from time to time including their descendants. This Diaspora is
currently estimated to number over twenty million. Composed of "NRIs" (Indian citizens
not residing in India) and "PIOs" (Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired the
citizenship of the host country), and covers practically every part of the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Diaspora today constitutes an important, and in some respects unique force in
world culture.3 Indians had been migrating to the far-flung coasts of the Ocean for trade
and commerce since ancient times. However, the origins of the modern Indian Diaspora
lie mainly
in the subjugation of India by the British and its incorporation into the British Empire.
Indians were taken as indentured labour to other lands in the nineteenth-and early 20th
century. Indian populations of Mauritius, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, and Sri Lanka
are such examples. Over two million Indians fought on behalf of the empire in the Boer
Wars (1880-81 and 1899-1902) and the two World Wars, and some remained behind to
claim the land on which they had fought as their own. Emulating their ancestors, many
Gujarati traders left for lands of Southeast Asia in large numbers in the early part of the
twentieth century.4 Finally, after the Second World War a large number of Indians
migrated to the oil economies of West-Asia and have formed a substantial part of their
populations. Indians have been the main force in the transformation of the physical
landscape of much of the Middle East. In the recent decades professionals in virtually
every field have headed to every land around the Indian Ocean for better opportunities.
Presence of Indian population in the littoral states of the Indian Ocean is shown in the
table below.
Indian Diaspora in the littoral and island states of the Indian Ocean
Country Overseas Indian Population Percentage of local population
South Africa 13, 00,000 2.7%
Mozambique 21,000 0.1%
Tanzania 90,000 0.2%
Kenya 1, 00,000 0.3%
Sudan 1,500 --
Israel 45,000 (70000) 0.7%
Saudi Arabia 15, 00,000 6.1%
Yemen 9,000 0.04%
Oman 4, 50,000 17.5%
UAE 13, 00,000 31.7%
Bahrain 1, 50,000 19%
Qatar 1, 25,000 15.7%
Kuwait 5, 80,000 21.6%
Iran 800 0.001%
Myanmar 20, 00,000 4.2%
Thailand 65,000 0.1%
Singapore 3, 20,000 6.6%
Malaysia 24, 00,000 8.7%
Indonesia 25,000 0.01%
Australia 2, 35,000 1.1%
Island States
Madagascar 28,000 0.15%
Maldives 9,000 3.1%
Mauritius 8, 55,000 68.3%
Reunion 2, 20,000 28%
Seychelles 5,000 6.2%
Sri Lanka 8,50,000 4.4%
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, available at,
Millions of Indians are living in different countries of Indian Ocean littoral.
Except Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Egypt, Iraq and Iran, every country in the region has a
sizeable Indian population, who are not only notable investors but also opinion-makers in
their respective countries. They also hold important posts in the government and in vital
non-government sectors in the country of their adoption.5 Spreading Indian languages and
culture they have formed Indian associations and organizations at local, regional and
national level. These organizations are based on Indian
regions, religions and casts etc. creating mini-Indias in those countries. They act as true
cultural diplomats and messengers of India. A perusal of Indian organisations/associations
in the states of Indian Ocean region reveals various patterns of migration from India,
preferred destinations from particular Indian regions and communities, and also the kind
of activities they indulge in to keep Indian languages and culture alive. The same is given
South Africa
Indians have settled in South Africa since long. Art of Living has its branches in
Pretoria, Durban, and Johannesburg. Arya Pratinidhi Sabha South Africa has office in
Durban. There are organizations based on Indian regions such as Andhra Maha Sabha of
South Africa in. Kwazulu-Natal; Gujarat Sanskruti Kendra, Natal; Gujrati Parishad,
Transvaal; Gujarati Parishad; Vereening Gujarati Seva Smaj; Shree Benoni Gujarati
Natal; Tamil Vedic Society Durban; South African Tamil Federation; Western Cape Tamil
Federation Cape Town. Religion based Indian organizations in South Africa include Bal
Bhakte Bhajan Mandal; Divine Hindu Association, Kwazulu–Natal; Hindu Maha Sabha;
Islamic Organisation; Kathiawad Hindu Seva Samaj; Pretoria Hindu Organisation; Surat
Hindu Association Kwazulu-Natal; Shree Azadville Hindu Seva Samaj Rooderpoort; Shri
Pretoria Hindu Seva Smaj Pretoria; Shree Sanathan Dharma Sabha; I. S. K. C. O. N,
Ramakrishna Centre Of South Africa, Transvaal; Hindu Seva Smaj; Shri Swaminarayan
Mandir (BAPS) Mayfair West; and Satsang Mahila Mandal. Other Indian organizations
include, Indian Academy; Indian Association of South Africa; Buzme Adab; The Indian
Academy of South Africa Kwazulu-Natal; Aryan Benevolent Home Kwazulu-Natal; and
Indian Business Forum Durban.6
Indian organizations in Mozambique include Associacao Muculmana De Tete
(Sunni-Jamat-Muslim Association of Tete);
Comunidade Hindu, Nampula; Comunidade Mahometana, Maputo (Muslim
Community); and Indian Professional and Business Council (INCON), Maputo.
Tanzania has a large number of organizations formed by the people of Indian
origin. Such associations include Bilal Muslim Mission Dar es Salaam; Khoja Shia
Ithnasheri Supreme Council Dar es Salaam; Shree Hindu Mandal; Shri Jain Sangh; Shree
Hindu Council of Tanzania; Sanatan Dharma Sabha, Tanzania; and Swaminarayan
Mandal. Organisations based on Indian casts include Shree Bhatia Mahajan; Shree
Lohana Mahajan; Shri Gurjar Suthar Gnati Mandal; Shri Rajput Bhojraj Gnati Mandal;
Shri Vagheshwari Soni Samaj; Shri Koli (Divecha) Gnati Mandal; and Tamil Sangam.
There is Indo Tanzania Cultural Centre and Kalamandalam at Dar es Salaam.7
Religion based Indian organizations in Kenya include, Arya Samaj; Arya
Pratinidhi Sabha of Eastern Africa; East Africa Shree Swaminarayan Mandal; Kenya
Brahma Sabha; Shri Gayathri Parivar; and Sanatan Dharam Sabha. Indian Christians have
created St. Xavier Society and Sikhs have Sri Gurudwara Bazaar and Sikh Women
Society. Aga Khan Ismaili Council of Kenya and Dawoodi Bohra Muslim Community
are organizations established by the Bohra Muslims. Associations based on Indian castes
in the country include East Africa Rajput League; Lohana Mahajan Mandal; Patel
Brotherhood; Shri Gurjar Sutar Community; and Shri Navnat Vanik Mahajan Mandal.
Indian professional and business associations in Kenya include Chandaria Group of
Companies; Harbans Singh Associates; M D Kaycee Auto Parts Ltd.; Sameer Investments
Ltd. Welfare associations created by Indians include Indian Citizens' Welfare Association
of Kenya; Kenya Pragati Mandal; Karuna Charitable Trust; and Kenya India Friendship
Association (KIFA). Societies promoting
Indian culture include, Kamini's School of Dancing; Ma Sharda School of Music; and
South Indian Cultural Society. Associations based on Indian regions include Maharashtra
Mandal; Shri Cutchi Madhapur P.G.M; Shri Kathiawar Jansari Mandal; Tamil
Association of Kenya; and The Goan Gymkhana.8
The Indian community has set up an Indian School up to Grade-IV level.
Indian community --mainly Gujarati-- number between 1,200-1,500, of which
about 800 are settled in Omdurman, 250 in Kasala and about 300 in Port Sudan. There is
an Indian School in Khartoum.
Egypt does not have many persons of Indian origin. Whatever their number, they
have set up Indian Community Association of Egypt (ICAE) in Cairo. It brings together
Indians living in Egypt, and helps them connect, share and enhance their life. Indian
community members from all over Egypt organise their activities through ICAE.
Jews of Indian origin in Israel, most of who are Israeli nationals, come from
Maharashtra and some from Kerala and Calcutta. While the younger generation is
increasingly assimilated into Israeli society, they have set up Central Organization of
Indian Jews in Israel; Cochini Jews in Israel; Indian Women’s Association; Indian Jewish
Community Centre in Israel; Indian Jewish Association; and Indian Cultural Association
of Eilat.9
Saudi Arabia
Being an Islamic country, most Indian Associations in Saudi Arabia are based
either on Indian regions or culture. Except Muslim Indian Associations there are few
registered associations based on Hindu or Sikh religion. Associations based on Indian
regions include Ahrudaya Malayala Vedi; Andhra Pradesh NRIs Association; Awadh
Manch; Indian Tamil Fine Arts Association Riyadh; Madhya Pradesh Indian Living in
Arabian Nations (MILAN) Riyadh; and Tamil Cultural Society. Associations created by
Indian Muslims include Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre Saudi Arabia and NRI Milli
Forum Saudi Arabia. Professional organizations include Al-Jufailah Corporation for Food
Stuff (Al Kabeer); Indian Architects’ Association; NRI, Indian Engineers Forum, Saudi
Arabia; International Management Forum Riyadh; Indian Science & Technology Forum
Saudi Arabia; Indian Doctors Forum Saudi Arabia; Institute of Chartered Accountants of
India, Riyadh. There is Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys' Association and Yahind
Educational Society (YES) Riyadh. There are large number of cultural organizations such
as Bharatiya Kala Kendrum; Arts & Cultural Society, Saudi Arabia; Deccan Cultural
Association; Hindustani Bazme-e-Urdu; Indian Arts Society (IAS) Riyadh; The Cultural
Heritage of India, Saudi Arabia; Kalakaar, Cultural Association of Karnataka State
Riyadh; Musical Waves Saudi Arabia; Navodaya Fine Arts Damman; Nattyam, Prathibha,
Ragasandya Cultural Group; Rainbow Cultural Association Saudi Arabia; Snehasandesh
Cultural Society Saudi Arabia; Sargam Fine Arts; Sher-e-Punjab Group of India etc.10
Associations formed by Indian community in Yemen include Ber Sheba Prayer
Fellowship Sana'a; Hatimi Makan (Bohra Community) Haddah; Indian Association Aden;
Indian National's Club; Indian Association Hodeidah; Kerala Club; Malayali Samajam;
Telugu Bharathi Club; and Tamil Sangam. Most of these are based in the capital city of
Indian community has established associations like Art of Living; Gujarati Samaj;
and Muscat Karnataka Sangha. All these associations are based in Muscat.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Having a large number of people of Indian origin, there are many associations
formed by them These associations include, Abu Dhabi Malayalee Samajam; Bhartiya
Bangiya Parishad; Dubai Priyadarshini; Gujrati Samaj; India Association Arizona; India
Social Centre; Indian Ladies' Association; Indian Association at Sharjah and Dubai;
Indian Relief Committee, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah; Indian Social Club, Fujairah;
Indian Muslim Forum UAE; Indian Islamic Centre, UAE; Kanrataka Sangh, Dubai;
Kerala Social Centre, Abu Dhabi; Manglore Konkans, Dubai; Maharashtra Mandal,
Dubai; Rasmayi Andhra Cultural Forum, Dubai; Tamil Ladies Association, Dubai; Tamil
Nadu Cultural Association, Dubai and Umm-al-Quwain. Associations promoting Indian
culture include Bhavna Art Lovers' Association and Dubai Art Lovers' Association;
Kairali Kala Kendram; Emirates Art Centre; Goan Cultural Society; Indian Cultural
Association; and Indian Art Society Dubai. Professional Indian associations in UAE
include Emirates Indian Businessmen's Club; Institute of Chartered Accountants; Institute
of Engineers of India; Indian Pharmaceutical Association; Indian Business/Professional
Group, Abu Dhabi; and Overseas Indian Economic Forum, Dubai.12
Qatar has a large number of organizations formed by the Indian community there.
Many of these organizations based on various Indian regions include Bangiya Parishad
Doha; Charishma Arts Doha; Goans Sports Club; Mangalore Cricket Club; Maharashtra
Mandal; Qatar Telugu Association; and Ras Laffan Malayalee Samajam. Cultural and
religious organizations formed by
Indians include Bharatham Arts & Cultural Organization; Indian Overseas Cultural
Congress; Indian Community Recreation Center; Indian Cultural Centre; Indian Islamic
Association; Indian Womens' Association; Indo-Qatar Urdu Markaz; Indian Urdu Poet's
Association; Karnataka Sangha; Karnataka Urdu Markaz, Karnataka Muslim Cultural
Association; Kalaniketan Club; Manoranjan, Music Lovers' Group; Malankara Cultural
Association; North Indians Association; Qatar Goans Sports Club; Qatar Indian Islami
Centre; Qatar Syro-Malabar Cultural Association; South Kanara Muslim Welfare
Association; and Telugu Kala Samiti Qatar. Indian professionals have formed The
Institution of Engineers; Trivandrum Alumni Association Qatar Chapter; Indian
Community Benevolent Fund; Indian Doctor's Club; Indian Medical Association-Doha
Chapter; The Indian Business and Professional Network, Doha; and the Institute of
Chartered Accountants of India, Doha.13
Bahrain has many Indian immigrants and they have formed many associations
based on Indian regions, professions, and culture. Such groups include The Bahrain
Keraleeya Samajam; Karnataka Social Club; Maharashtra Cultural Society; The Bahrain
Malayalee CSI Parish; Kerala Muslim Jama'ath; and Shri Gujarati Samaj. Organisations
promoting and preserving Indian religions and culture include, The Indian Fine Arts
Society; Indian Ladies Association; Konkan Singers Club; Kerala Arts & Cultural
Association; Bahrain Kannada Sangha, Tamil Social & Cultural Association (TASCA);
The Sree Narayana Cultural Society; Bongiyo Samaj Social & Cultural Association;
Kerala Social & Cultural Asssociation; Telugu Kala Samithi, Sikh Temple (Sri Guru
Singh Sabha), Kerala Catholic Association, Thattai Hindu Community, and Bhatia Mitra
Mandal, Bohra Association. Other Indian organizations in Bahrain include The Institution
of Engineers (India) Bahrain Chapter; Bahrain Chapter of the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India; and Young Goan’s Sports Club.14
Kuwait has a large number of Indians engaged in different professions. In fact
Kuwait has been a favoured destination for Indians to emigrate. They have formed
different organisations based on Indian regions, cultures, and professions etc. These
organizations include Anuman-e-Burhani; Arihant Social Group; Airways Malayalee
Cultural Organisation (AMCO) Dasman; Arsha Vidya Bharthi (AVB); Bochasanwasi
Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS); Bharathi Kalai Mandram; Children’s Art Group;
Bharat Samskara Kender (Bhaskar); Cultural & Recreational Club of Chinchinim;
Gayathri Arts; Indian Arts Circle; Jyothy Arts And Cultural Association; Kuwait Indian
Cultural Congress; Kuwait Kalabhavan; Kuwait Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre; Maurya
Kala Parisar; United Indian Cultural Association; and Saaz aur Awaaz. Religious
organizations formed by Indians include, Federation of Indian Muslim; Indian Muslim
Welfare Association; Gurudwara Committee Kuwait; and Devotional Associates of
Yogeshwar. Indian professionals have formed various associations such as, Association of
Indian Professionals; College of Engineering Trivandrum Alumni Association (CETAA);
Guild of Chartered Accountants of India; Institution of Engineers (India); NRI Investors
Forum; and Tamil Nadu Engineers Forum. Associations based on Indian regions include
Bengali Cultural Society; Goa Cult Cultural & Recreational Club; Goa Welfare Society,
Indian Sports & Cultural Association; Kuwait Kannada Koota; Kerala Arts & Literature
Promoting Association of Kuwait (KALPAK); Kuwait Orissa Association; Kuwait
Malayali Cultural Congress; Kuwait Telugu Seva; Maharshtra Mandal; Overseas
Malayalee Welfare Association; Punjabi Cultural Society; Punjab Sports and Welfare
Association; Sindhi Association of Indians; South Indian Cultural Society; South Indian
Arts and Recreation Association; Tamil Nadu Muslim Cultural Association Kuwait
United Malayalee Organisation (UMO); and Uttar Pradesh Kalatmak Rangmanch
(UPKAR). Other organizations include, Indian Women’s Association; Indian Women’s
League; Indian Overseas Congress; Indo Arab Socio-Cultural Organisation (IASCO);
Indian Citizen’s Committee; Non-Resident Indians Forum; NRI'S Welfare Association
Iraq has an organization called Indian Association in Iraq.
There are about 2,50,000 people of Indian origin (PIO) in Myanmar. Of them
about 2,000 are Indian citizens settled there and 400,000 are stateless.16 Indians in
Myanmar are from different religions (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians) and
regions such as Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala
and Punjab. They speak their respective languages. Organisations formed by Indians in
Myanmar include, All Myanmar Shia Muslim Organisation; Arya Samaj Temple; All
Burma Hindu Central Board; All Myanmar Hindu Religious Society; All Myanmar
Tamilian Association; Arya Pratinidhi Sabha; Yangon, Bazam-e-Gulshan-e-Urdu; Burma
Hindi Sahitya Sammelan; Geeta Prachar Samiti; Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust;
Mahatma Gandhi Prathana Bhavan; Myanmar Muslim Organisation; Purohit Mandal;
Ramakrishna Temple Trust; Sanathan Dharam Swayam Sevak Sangh; Sikh Temple; Sri
Hanuman Temple; The Andhra Mahajan Sangham; The Islamic Religious Affairs
Council; The Jamait Ulema-El-Islam; and Zafar Shah Dargah Trust.17
Thailand has modest presence of Indians and they have formed different
organisations such as, Thai Bharat cultural lodge; Thai Kannada Balaga; Thailand Hindi
Parishad; Shri Digamber Jain Samaj, Bangkok; Thai Sikh Organization; Arya Samaj;
Ashram Thailand; Indian Women's Club; Gujarati-Marwari Society, Maharashtra Mandal
Bangkok; India-Thai Business Forum; and Mohona-A Bangla Association in Thailand
and IIT Alumni Association, Thailand.18
Many Indians have been heading to Singapore since long. They have formed their
organizations based on the regions they migrated from, and their language and culture.
These organizations include, Bengali Association; Kannada Sangha; Marwari Mitra
Mandal; Sindhi Merchant Association; Singapore Gujarati Society; Singapore Kerala
Association; Singapore Tamilian Association; Kannada Sangha; and Singapore Telugu
Samajam. Indian religious organizations in Singapore include, Parsi Association of
Singapore; The Ramakrishna Ashram; Sikh Advisory Board; Singapore Khalsa
Association; Singapore Jain Religious Society; The North Indian Hindu Association;
Federation of Indian Muslims; and Hindu Endowments Board. Other arganisations
include, Aurobindo Society; Indian Women’s Association; Singapore, Nrityalaya
Aesthetics Society; Singapore India Association, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society
(SIFAS); Singapore Urdu Society; Tagore Society, The Hindi Society, The India Club,
The Kamala Club. It has a DAV Hindi School and DPS International School has been set
up with the efforts of Indian expatriates there.19
Indians in Malaysia have formed associations based on the Indian regions they
had migrated from or the religions they belong to such as, All Malaysia Malayali
Association; Gujarati Seva Samaj; Gujarati Association; Malaysian Telugu Association;
Malaysian Bengali Association; Hindu Sangam; Indian Muslim Association; Malaysian
Sikh Union. Other Indian organizations include, Malaysian Associated Indian Chamber
of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI); Malaysian Association of Indian University
Graduates; Society of Medical Graduates from India, Malaysia (SOMGRIM) etc.20
Indonesia is India’s next door neighbour in the Indian Ocean. About 90 percent
population of its Bali Island adheres to Hinduism which came from India. But over all
Indonesia does not have a large population of Indian origin. Art of Living has its branches
at Jakarta and other places. There is an Economic Association of Indonesia & India
(ECAII). Such organizations remind of Indian presence in Indonesia.
Australia has a large number of Indian populations. Most of them have emigrated
there in the recent past. This process is continuing. The migrant Indians have formed
many associations and organisations clearly showing the patterns of migration such as the
region or state of India from which they migrated. Or, the religion they belonged to back
in India. There presence is enlisted in different parts of Australia as shown through their
Canberra has many Indians and they have formed different associations such as,
Bengali Cultural Association (Canberra), Australian Tamil Cultural Society of ACT;
Bihar/Jharkhand Sabha; Haryana Jat Association; Rajasthan Sabha of Australia; and
South Indian Fine arts Association. Religious organisations formed by Indians in
Canberra include, Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre; Mandir Society of Australia Inc;
and Sri Katphaga Vinayakar Temple. Other organisations include, India Australia
Association of Canberra; Indian Senior Citizens Association; Sindhi association of
Victoria; and Ananda Marga Australia.
Sydny (New South Wales) has one of the highest concentrations of Indian
population. Organisations formed by them include, Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi
Sabha of NSW; All World Gayatri Pariwar (AUS); Ananda Marga Australia, Hindu
Council of Australia, Hindu Heritage Society, Hindu Jyotish Sabha of Australia; Kirtan
Prachar Mission of Australia; Sikh Mission Center; Simran House St, Minto; Vitraag Jain
Mandal, Vedanta Centre of Sydney (Ramkrishna Mission); Sri Venkateshwara Temple
Association; Shiri Sanatan Dharam Brahmin Sabha of Australia; Shree Sanatan Dharam
Pratindhi Sabha of NSW; University of Sydney Hindu Society; and University of New
South Wales Hindu Society. Organisations based on Indian regions include Australian
Tamil Muslim Association Sydney; Bengali Association of New South Wales; Bihar
Jharkhand Sabha Australia; Goan Overseas Association NSW; Gujarati Samaj of NSW;
Punjabi Cultural & Welfare Association; Punjabi Sahit Academy Sydney; Rajasthan
Sabha of Australia; Sydney Tamil Manram; Telangana Development Forum; Telugu
Association of Sydney; Sydney Malayalee Association; and Marathi Association Sydney.
Cast based organizations include, Basava Samathi of Australasia and Mohyal Sabha
Association. Indian women organisations include Indian Women Cultural Association of
Australia; Indian Working Women Association; and Women's Information Network &
Emergency Relief. Other organisations formed by Indians include, Anglo Indian
Association of NSW; Art of Living Foundation; Association for India's Development
Australia; Australian Hindi Indian Association (AHIA); Australian Institute of Hindi
language studies; Hindi Samaaj Sydney; Indo-Australian Bal Bharathi Vidyalaya-Hindi
School; The Australian Institute of Hindi language Studies; Australian Sanatan Sports
Association; Satsang Australia; Federation of Australian Indian Association; Indain
Overseas Congress, Australia; India Club; Indian Arts & Cultural Association of
Australia, Indian Family Friends Accociation, Indian Overseas Students Fellowship of
Australia; Spirit of India (NSW); Swadeshi Vichar Manch; Swara-Laya Fine Arts
Society; Sydney kannada Sangha; Sydney Sindhi Association; United Punjabi Heritage
and Cultural Association; and Vihangam Yoga Sant Samaj Sydney,
In Brisbane (Queensland), associations formed by Indians include, Hindu Mandir
Association; Shree Sanatan Dharam Hindu Association; Mangalorean Catholics
Association; Queensland Hindu Cultural and Religious Trust; Shiv Dhaam-Sanatan
Mandir Brisbane. Associations based on Indian regions are, Bihar Jharkhand Sabha
Australia; Brisbane Maharashtra Mandal; Brisbane Malayalee Association; Brisbane
Telugu Association; Gold Coast Indians; Goldcoast Malayalee Association; Gujarati
Association of Queensland; Kannada Sangha Queensland; and Kerala Association. Other
Brisbane based Indian associations include, Australian Anglo-Indian Association of
Brisbane; Indian Students Society (ISS) University of Queensland; Queensland Indian
Association; Cultural Society of India–Brisbane; Federation of Indian Communities of
Queensland; Indian Association of Central Queensland; Patel Association of Queensland;
Queensland/India Business Development Association QIBDA; Queensland Indian
Cultural Youth Association; and Swaran Mohini Inc.
Melbourne (Victoria) has many Indian settlers and they have formed associations
such as, Australia India Society of Victoria; Australia-India Music Club; Bharatha
Kalanjali Dance School; Bihar/Jharkhand Sabha, Chinmaya Mission Australia;
Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria; Federation of Indian Students of Australia;
Forum of Indian Communities of Victoria; Hindi Niketan of Melbourne; Indian Overseas
Students Fellowship of Australia; Indian Subcontinent Students Association (ISSA); Jat
Jagat Melbourne; Kalamandir: School of Indian Dances; Mai Nachungi Dance Company;
Natyalayaa Indian Dance School; and Sangam Kala Group Australia (SKGA).
Associations based on Indian religions and regions in Melbourne include, Bengali
Association of Victoria; Goan Overseas Association of Victoria; Indian Tamil Association
of Victoria; Melbourne Kannada Sangha; Maharashtra Mandal of Victoria; Malayalee
Association of Victoria; Melbourne Sikh Youth Wing; Rajasthan Sabha of
Australia; Telugu Association; Victorian Sikh Association (VSA); Shree Sanatan Dharam
Society of Victoria; Shree Swaminarayan Temple Melbourne; Sindhi Association of
Victoria; and Telugu Association.
Associations formed by Indians in Perth (Western Australia) include, Anglo
Indian Institute of W.A; Herb Graham Recreational Centre Mirrabooka; Bengali
Association of WA; Bihar Jharkhand Sabha Perth; DESI Indian Students' Society
University of Western Australia; Goan Overseas Association; Gujrati Samaj of Western
Australia; Hindi Samaj of Western Australia; Indian Overseas Students Fellowship of
Australia; Indian Society of Western Australia; Perth Malayali Cultural Club (Kairali);
Maharashtra Mandal of Perth; Malayalee Association of Western Australia; Sikh
Association of Western Australia; Tamil Association of Western Australia; Telugu
Association in Western Australia; and The Australian Anglo Indian Association (Inc).
Adelaide (South Australia) also has many organizations formed by Indians, such
as, Adelaide Kannada Sangha; Adelaide Marathi Mandal; Adelaide Metropolitan
Malayalee Association (AMMA); Adelaide Tamil Association; Bengali Cultural
Association of South Australia (BCASA); Bihar Jharkhand Sabha Adelaide; Indian
Australian Association of SA; Indian Overseas Students Fellowship of Australia; Mohyal
Sabha Adelaide; North Indians Association of South Australia; Sargam, Indian Musical
Association; Shruthi Adelaide; and Telgu Association of South Australia.
Madagascar has a small number of Indian associations such as, Association of
Khoja Shia; Faiz-E-Mohammedi Madagascar; Hindou Samaj D'antananarivo; and
I’association Hindou Society, Tamatave.
Mauritius has a centre of Art of Living at Curepipe
Indian associations in Seychelles include, Hindu Kovil Sangam; Indo-Seychelles
Friendship Association; and Hindu Council of Seychelles.
Presence of large number of associations formed by Indians in the countries of
Indian Ocean region reveals the pattern of migration from India to these countries areas
of their concentration and the religion/region of India they belong to. It also strongly
demonstrates the spread of persons of Indian origin and its culture to different corners of
the Indian Ocean region.
India’s cultural policy
In its earliest history, various Indian kingdoms and empires had maintained close
links with foreign lands. Over the centuries, these contacts were further consolidated.
Indian culture penetrated other ethno-cultural zones and a process of mutual cultural
enrichment ensued. India's culture is marked by a high degree of syncretism and cultural
pluralism.22 The earliest and closest of these cultural ties were those linking India and
Iran, for these can be traced as far back as Neolithic times. The ancient Indians and
Iranians were closely related people both ethnically and linguistically. The period of
particularly close Indo-Iranian ties began during the Achaemenid Empire when Iranian
culture influenced the development of Indian culture and Buddhism spread to Iran from
India. Many Indian scientific achievements and works of art became known in Iran.
Similarly, links between India and Sri Lanka were established immediately after the first
Indo-Aryan settlers came to the island. When Buddhism first began to spread to the
island, culture exerted a strong influence over Singhalese literature, architecture and
religion. At a very early stage India began trading with many countries of Southeast
Asia and later Indian settlements were set up there. The settlers brought with them
Sanskrit language and also many achievements of Indian culture and religions. In the
early centuries A.D., Indian communities also appeared in Indonesia. Later, Indians
increasingly engaged themselves in overseas trade with Arabia and Africa and
consolidated links with countries as far as Egypt.23 Large number of Indian Diaspora
began to take roots since then and has only grown in nature and strength over the years.
India’s diplomatic relations in the Region
To keep liaison with Indians settled in the countries of Indian Ocean, and maintain
historical relations, India set up its embassies, high commissions, and consulates in these
countries after independence. In some of these countries India sent its ambassadors even
before their independence. India has diplomatic representation in 26 littoral states and 7
island states of the Indian Ocean. It set up embassy in South Africa after the end of
apartheid regime there in 1993; established diplomatic relations with Mozambique in
1975 --the year it gained independence; with Tanzania in 1961 --when Tanganyika
became independent; with Kenya it set up diplomatic relations in 1947 and later upgraded
them in 1963; in Sudan, it set up liaison office in March 1955 --well before country’s
independence; in Egypt, India set up its embassy in 1947; established diplomatic relations
with Israel in the recent years; with Jordan, it set up full diplomatic ties in 1950; with
Saudi Arabia in 1947; with Yemen in 1970; with Oman in 1955; with United Arab
Emirates and Bahrain in 1973; with Kuwait in 1962 --one year before it got
independence; with Iraq in 1960. India also has full diplomatic relations with Djibouti,
Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia,
and Australia. With island states in the Indian Ocean, India has established diplomatic
links with Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, Comoros, Reunion Island, and
Cultural agreements with the countries of Indian Ocean
India signed agreement on Cultural Cooperation with Tanzania on 17th January,
1975, with Kenya on 24th February, 1981, with Djibouti on 31st January 1989. India and
Djibouti signed Executive Programme of Cultural, Education and Scientific Cooperation
for the year 2003-2005 at New Delhi on 19th May 2003. India signed agreement for
Cultural Cooperation with Sudan in November 1974. On September 25, 1955, India and
Egypt signed Cultural Cooperation Agreement. Cultural Agreement with Israel was
signed on May 18, 1993 at New Delhi. India and Saudi Arabia signed Cultural
Cooperation Agreement in February, 2010. On July 20, 1999, India and Republic of
Yemen signed Cultural Agreement to develop closer cultural relations between the two
countries. India and Oman signed Cultural Agreement in Muscat on August 3, 1991 and
signed Cultural Agreement (providing for Cultural Exchange Programmes) with UAE on
January 3, 1975. India has cultural agreement with Qatar. On 8th January 1975, India
signed a cultural agreement with Bahrain. Cultural Agreement between the India and
Kuwait was signed on November 2, 1970. President of India and King of Iraq signed
Agreement Concerning Cultural Relations between India and Iraq, way back in 1954.25
With Myanmar India signed a bilateral Cultural Cooperation Agreement in 2001. To
strengthen age-old cultural ties, India signed a Cultural Agreement with Thailand in April
1977 and with Malaysia in 1978. Signifying their ancient cultural relations, India and
Indonesia signed a land mark Cultural Agreement in 1955. This agreement has acted as
the central guideline for bilateral cultural interaction between the two countries. The
cultural agreement has been updated regularly through the Cultural Exchange Programme
(CEP), which has facilitated inter-institutional linkages and collaborative research
programmes between the two countries.25
Indian Diaspora and culture is significantly present in the island republics of the
Indian Ocean. India has signed agreements for
cultural cooperation with them from time to time. Agreement on Cultural Cooperation
was signed with Mauritius in 1978 under which the first India/Mauritius Joint
Commission was created. With Maldives India signed Cultural Agreement in 1983. These
agreements have provided the basis to officially pursue cultural diplomacy through
exchange programmes, performances and several other cultural activities. Indian
embassies in Southeast Asia regularly organize cultural programmes by Indian artists.
The government also facilitates the visit of cultural troupes to various countries. Besides,
film festivals are organized at regular intervals considering the growing interest in Indian
Indian Cultural Centers
India has established Indian Cultural Centers (ICC) which has become an
important platform to promote India's cultural diplomacy in the Indian Ocean region.
Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) has established 20 cultural centers (and two
sub-centers) worldwide.26 Keeping in view the vast spread of Indian Diaspora and
culture, these Culture Centers take up different activities to integrate India with the lands
and the people of the Indian Ocean region. India has set up Indian Cultural Centre in
Durban, (South Africa) which functions under the aegis of the Consulate General of
India, Durban. Besides organizing various cultural programmes in different cities of
KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape & Free State by visiting artists from India, the Cultural
Centre also organizes talks, discourses & lectures, dance and music workshops by
eminent personalities. The Cultural Centre also conducts regular classes to teach Indian
dance and music by qualified tutors. Centre has a library of more than 3700 titles on a
variety of subjects. Indian Cultural Centre has also been set up at Johannesburg in 1996 at
the Consulate premises with an aim to promote Indian culture and to foster closer links
between India and South Africa.27 Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture is working in
Embassy of India, in Cairo. Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre is functioning in
Embassy of India, at Jakarta
(Indonesia). Given to majority Hindu population a Sub-Indian Cultural Centre has been
setup on Bali Island of Indonesia. Indian Cultural Centre is also working in the High
Commission of India at Colombo. Similarly, Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture is
playing a significant role at Port Louis, Mauritius. The main activities of these cultural
centers are to provide the local population an opportunity to learn about the Indian
culture. These centers organize performances of dance, drama, and music, essay
competitions, lectures, photo exhibitions, and so on. They also conduct classes for yoga,
Indian music and Hindi language.28
Scholarships to the nationals of countries of Indian Ocean
Educational assistance forms another important element in India's cultural
diplomacy. India offers opportunities to the nationals from the various countries to visit
India to acquire education and learn about Indian languages and culture. Many schemes
to provide scholarships have been mooted for this purpose. India awards 324 scholarships
under (GCSS) scheme annually to international students belonging to certain Asian,
African and Latin American countries for the undergraduate, postgraduate degrees and
for pursuing research at Indian universities. More than half of these scholarships are
awarded to the nationals from the countries of Indian Ocean.
Table- 2
Distribution of Scholarships under GCSS
In the Countries of Indian Ocean Region
Djibouti 01 Qatar 01
Indonesia 20 Saudi Arabia 03
Iran 13 Somalia 19
Iraq 20 South Africa 19
Jordan 05 Sri Lanka 10
Kenya 12 Seychelles 10
Maldives 08 Sudan 10
Malaysia 01 Tanzania 10
Mauritius 06 Thailand 10
Myanmar 10 UAE 01
Mozambique 15 Yemen 07
Oman 01
Source: Singhvi Committee Report, pp. xvii–xx.
Under other schemes India awards scholarships to the nationals belonging to these
countries. A 100 Special Scholarship are offered to nationals of Bangladesh to pursue
courses in the field of arts and science, specialized courses in engineering, pharmacy,
agriculture, sports and performing and visual arts in the Indian educational institutions.
Under Special Scholarship Scheme for Sri Lanka, 47 scholarships are offered to Sri
Lankan students to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Under this Scheme
30 scholarships are offered to Mauritian students to pursue undergraduate and
postgraduate courses in India. Under its Scholarships Scheme ICCR awards 45
scholarships to foreign students interested to learn Indian music, dance, paintings,
sculptures, etc. in various universities/institutions and Gurukuls. Under the Cultural
Exchange Programme, 330 scholarships are awarded by the Government of India to
facilitate studying, training and research in various fields. Countries of the Indian Ocean
region like Australia, Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius,
Sudan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, and Yemen have availed this facility.29
Under the Commonwealth Programme, India offers 54 scholarships in human resource
development to the nationals of the Commonwealth countries. Among the Indian Ocean
countries, Bangladesh is awarded 2 scholarships; Kenya gets 4, Maldives 4, Mauritius 4,
Mauritius 8, South Africa 1, Sri Lanka 5, and Tanzania 3.30
Apart from these schemes India offers Africa Day scholarship in the memory of
the Late Dr. Amilcar Cabral. The scholarship is offered to a national of one African
country on rotation basis for pursuing undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral and post
doctoral studies. It instituted Dadoo Naicker Scholarship in the memory of Yusuf Dadoo
and Monty Naicker of the South African Indian Congress. It is awarded to a South
African student of Indian origin to pursue postgraduate studies.31 Under the Technical
Cooperation Scheme (TCS) of the Colombo Plan, India further awards scholarships to the
nationals from Bangladesh, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Maldives, Sri Lanka,
and Thailand. These scholarships are offered for undergraduate, postgraduate and
research towards a Ph.D. degree. India offers 10 Craft Instructor Scholarships annually to
the nationals of Commonwealth countries which include the countries of the region.
Training as craft instructors, carpentry and welding is provided to the nationals of these
countries. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Maldives get benefit from 12 scholarships
annually under SAARC Scholarship/Fellowship Scheme.32 India also offers some country
specific scholarships such as Aid to Maldives, under which 20 scholarship slots are
awarded to the nationals of Maldives. Under Special Scholarship Scheme for Mauritian
nationals, Ministry of External Affairs awards 3 scholarships. Five each AYUSH
(Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) Scholarships are
awarded to the nationals of Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
Integrating Indian Community with India
Residing in distant lands, Indians have succeeded spectacularly in their chosen
professions through their dedication and hard work. They have retained their emotional,
cultural and spiritual links with India --the country of their origin. This strikes a
reciprocal chord in the hearts of people of India. It is a symbiotic relationship. On the
recommendation of a committee (appointed under L M Singhvi) which gave its report to
the Prime Minister on 8th January, 2002, suggested formation of an organization on the
lines of Planning Commission to look after the affairs of Overseas Indians.33 A full-
fledged Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was set up to deal with affairs related to
Overseas Indians.
India’s cultural diplomacy is not seen as an effort towards cultural dominance in the
region, rather it has been appreciated abroad. The region views India's cultural diplomacy
as an effort to harmonize cultural linkages and strengthen ties through modern cultural
Pravasi Bhartiya Divas
An important aspect of India's cultural diplomacy is to cultivate Indian Diaspora;
Indian government has taken a number of policy initiatives in order to engage the
Diaspora. Celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is one such effort which began in 2003
and is held every year in the month of January.34 To recognise the services of Indians
settled abroad, 'Pravasi Bharatiya Samman was instituted in 2003. This honour is
conferred on distinguished Indians or the persons of Indian origin settled abroad. A
substantial share of these awards has gone to the Indians settled in different parts of
Indian Ocean. In 2003, Sir Anerood Jugnauth Prime Minister of Mauritius, Prof. Fatima
Meer from South Africa, Kanaksi Gokaldas Khimji from Oman, Manilal Premchand
Chandaria from Kenya, veteran political figure of Malaysia Dato’ Seri S. Samy Vellu
were conferred with this award. In 2004, Dipak Jain of Thailand, Dr. Marian Chisti of
Kuwait, was given this honour. In 2005, Amina Cachalia of South Africa, J.K. Chande of
Tanzania, Ahmed Kathrada of South Africa, and M.A Yusuffali of United Arab Emirates
were given this award. In 2006, Shivnath Rai Bajaj from Thailand, Eliahu Bezale from
Israel, Abdool Raouf Bundhun from Mauritius, Majid Uddin Kazi from Saudi Arabia,
C.K. Menon from Qatar, V. Ramadoss from Seychelles, Sisupal Rambharos from South
Africa, and Jean-Paul Virapoullé from Réunion were awarded with this Samman. In
2007, Billy Nair from South Africa, Pheroze Nowrojee from Kenya, Tan Sri Dato K.R.
Somasundram of Malaysia, Syed M. Salahuddin and Dr. Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty
from United Arab Emirates were honoured with this award. In 2008, Dr. Ravi Pillai from
Bahrain, Dr. Navinchandra of Mauritius, Neville
Joseph Roach of Australia, Dr. Rafiudin Fazulbhoy of Saudi Arabia, and Krishnamurthy
Kumar of United Arab Emirates were given Parvasi Bhartiya Samman. In 2010, Suresh
Kumar Virmani from Oman; Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan, finance minister of South Africa
and Tholisah Perumal Naidoo a publisher from Durban; Rajni Kanabar from Tanzania;
Deepak Mittal from Thailand; and Dr. Azad Moopen from United Arab Emirates have
been given these awards in the month of January.35
Remittances from the Indian Diaspora have become a major source of external
development finance. Worldwide remittances received by developing countries from its
nationals abroad exceeded $250 billion in 2006. The actual size of remittances, including
both officially recorded and unrecorded transfers through informal channels is even
larger. There are two kinds of remittances --family and community. Family remittances
are money sent by individual immigrants to family and friends back home. These
remittances are often used to meet their basic needs. Community remittances are money
sent by immigrants and by hometown associations to communities in their home country.
This money is traditionally used for infrastructure like roads, schools, parks and
Remittances have tremendous potential to encourage development in India and
their importance increases when home country's economy slows, making it a particularly
effective anti-poverty tool. Remittances to India represent about 3.08 percent of its GDP.
In 2005-2006, remittances were higher than the US$23.6 billion in revenues from India's
software exports, which is particularly impressive since software exports increased 33
percent that year.36 In 2004-2005, the state and federal governments in India collectively
spent less money on education than India received in remittances. And, in the same year,
combined state and federal government expenditures on health care came to less than half
of the flow of remittances. The impact of remittances is more pronounced in parts of the
country that have experienced higher volumes of emigration. In the southern state of
Kerala, for example, remittances constitute 22 percent of the state domestic product.
Excluding remittances, per capita income in Kerala is 34 percent higher than the national
average while it is 60 percent higher than the national figure including remittances.37
Since 1991, India has experienced sharp remittance growth. In 1990-91
remittances to India by its population abroad totaled US$2.1 billion, which increased to
8.5 billion in 1995-96, 12.7 billion in 1999-2000, 15.4 billion in 2001-02, 21.61 billion in
2003-04, and about 24.55 billion in 2005-06. In 2007 remittances to India were estimated
at 27 billion followed by 45 billion in 2008 and 55.6 billion in 2009. In 1990-91,
remittances to India constituted 0.7 % of the GDP and their share now is above 3.5
percent. In 2006, of its total remittances received from abroad, 24% came from gulf
countries, 2% from African countries, and about 8% from Southeast Asia.38 India has
clearly achieved a large sustained level of remittances. Policy initiatives by the
government and banking institutions have achieved two significant results. First, most
remittances flow thorough formal channels. Second, an increasing number of remitters
have moved from being pure "savers" to "investors." The Indian Diaspora has proven
responsive to incentives. It has increasingly invested in India during the last two decades.
Religious and cultural tourism
India is considered as the land of ancient history, religion and culture. Being the
centre of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, India attracts millions NRI/PIO belonging to
these faiths from various countries of the region. Religious tourism has emerged as a
booming market in India. Indians settled abroad make religious pilgrimage to Tirupati,
Balaji, Vaishno Devi, Golden Temple and Dargahs of many Sufi Saints like Moinudin
Chishti. These
pilgrimages help to renew interpersonal relationships between Indian Diaspora and their
kith and kins back home. This helps to build close ties with the Diaspora. Similarly,
cultural tourism in India has seen meteoric rise in the recent years. Tourists come from far
and wide to see Indian culture and heritage at Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer,
Bikaner, Mandawa, in Rajasthan and New Delhi. The most popular states in India for
cultural tourism are Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttaranchal. Indian
culture in the form of dance, music, festivities, architecture, traditional customs, food,
and languages attract thousands of people of Indian origin to India. In Rajasthan these
tourists throng to see its rich cultural heritage, its magnificent palaces and forts, and a
large number of festivals and fairs such as the camel festival, and festivals at Marwar and
Pushkar. In Uttar Pradesh they come to see the famous monuments like Taj Mahal in
Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, Varanasi, Allahabad, Vrindavan, and Ayodhya. In Uttaranchal
many ancient temples are found in the Kumaon and Garhwal regions of the state.39
Indian Films and promotion of Indian culture
Producing twice as many films as Hollywood and attracting double the audience, the
Indian film industry is, by certain measures, top of the cinematic tree. Indian films are
popular abroad especially in the countries having Indian immigrants. These films reach
out to the Global audiences to represent India on an international platform. Cinema is the
second most foreign exchanger grosser for India.40 The popularity and demand of
Bollywood across the Indian Ocean is a regular source of bondage for India Diaspora.
Indian films are greatly admired in countries of Asia, Africa and West Asia. South Africa,
Kenya, Indian Film awards are held in Dubai and Singapore which have a large Indian
population. Indians living abroad grasp every opportunity to stay connected with their
roots and Indian cinema and film festivals showcasing Indian cinema play an important
role for NRIs and their children to stay in touch with India. Since 1952, India has hosted
international film festivals. These festivals became annual events from 1975 onwards.
These festivals provide opportunity to outside world to see closely watch Indian culture,
languages and music etc. On the other hand the countries such as Indonesia, Thailand get
opportunity to show their talent to Indian audiences. Tamil films are quite popular among
Tamil immigrants in South Africa and Singapore. Indian film industry is biggest exporter
and promoter of Indian culture among the countries of the Indian Ocean region. Apart
from being popular in the countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius,
UAE and South Africa, special channels and entertainment magazines in Israel and Iran
latest news from Indian Cinema.41
Not only cinema, Indian TV channels too create an important bridge between India
and its people abroad. For example Zee TV can be viewed across 20 countries among
which are included Dubai, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Israel, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia,
and Australia. Similarly Indian entertainment STAR Plus can be viewed in the countries
of Middle East, Singapore, and Australia.
Almost every country on the Indian Ocean littoral has a sizeable population of Indian
origin. In an endeavour to strengthen its relationship with them India has actively used
culture as an important instrument. The list of instruments used in cultural diplomacy is
inexhaustible. It includes signing of formal cultural agreements, organizing of Pravasi
Bharatiya Diwas, conferring 'Pravasi Bharatiya Samman on the people of Indian Origin
settled abroad, establishment of Indian Cultural Centres (ICC), providing educational
assistance to the nationals of these countries, establish diplomatic relations, offering
scholarships in India’s educational institutions, establishment of ICCR to coordinate
efforts to spread Indian culture, etc. Cultural diplomacy is carried out by the government
to support its foreign policy goals by using a
wide range of cultural manifestations for a variety of purposes. This approach helps to
advance country’s domestic objectives. It is a valuable tool which is likely to become
more important instrument of public diplomacy and contributor to India’s soft power in
the near future.
1. Carnes, Lord: Losing hearts and minds?: Public Diplomacy and Strategic
Influence in the age of Terror, Praeger, New York, 2006; Rana K, "Bilateral
Diplomacy", DiploProjects, Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies,
Malta, 2002, Chapter 12; Charles, Frederick: The Soviet Cultural Offensive:
The role of cultural diplomacy in Soviet foreign policy, Greenwood Press
Reprint, Westport, 1976.
2. Mohammada, Malika: The Foundations of the Composite Culture in India,
Aakar Books, Delhi, 2007; Kalman, Bobbie: India: The Culture, Crabtree
Publishing Company, New York, 2009: Uil, Manjari: Foreign Influence on
Indian Culture (c.600 BC to AD 320), Low Price Publications, New Delhi,
2006; Basham A.L: The Wonder that was India, Sidgwick and Jackson,
London, 1954.
3. Lal, Brij V. (ed.): The Encyclopedia of the Indian Diaspora, Singapore:
Editions Didier Millet, 2006, p.144; Jayaram, N and Atal Yogesh: The Indian
Diaspora: dynamics of migration, Sage Publications, California, 2004.
4. Gupta, Anirudha: Indians Abroad: Asia and Africa, Orient Longman, New
Dehli, 1971; Arasarathnam, S: Islamic Merchant Communities of the Indian
Subcontinent in Southeast Asia, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 1989;
Ramstedt, Martin (ed): Hinduism in Modern Indonesia: Between Local,
National, and Global Interests, Curzon Press, London, 2002.
5. “History of Indian Diaspora”, and “Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian
Origin”, at,;
also see, Raymer, Steve: Images of a Journey: Images of Indian Diaspora,
Indiana University Press, 2007; Kalbag, Ashwin, “Indian Diaspora Deserve
Recognition for their Contributions”, The Economic Times, March 29, 2010.
6. “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in South Africa”, NRI
Reality News, available at,;
SookDeo, A. "The Transformation of Ethnic Identities; the case of ‘Coloured’
and Indian South Africans”, Journal of Ethnic Studies , winter 1987-1988.
Western Washington University, Bellingham.
7. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Tanzania”, at,; Rudy Brueggemann, Indians
of East Africa, at,;
8. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Kenya”, at,; “A New View of Kenya's 'Asians”,
Washington Post, March 15, 2000; Tharoor, Shashi, “We're all Kenyans
here”, The Hindu, November 07, 2004.
9. See,
10. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Saudi Arabia”, at,; There are more than 1.5
million Indians living in Saudi Arabia. Also see, Jha, Saurav, “India and
Saudi Arabia deepen Ties”, World Political Review, March 29, 2010; Pant,
Harsh V, “Saudi Arabia Woos China and India”, The Middle East Quarterly,
Vol. XIII, Number 4, Fall 2006, pp. 45-52.
11. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Yemen”, at,; Nadia Al-Sakkaf, “Indian
Ambassador Praveen Verma to Yemen Times: 'The Indian Community Feels
Very Comfortable and Welcomed in This Country”, Yemen Times, August 17,
12. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in U.A.E”, at,; “Indians largest working force in
UAE”, The Times of India, February 26, 2008; Zachariah, K and Rakash, B
et al. “Indian Workers in the UAE: Employment, Wages, and Working
Conditions”, Economic and Political Weekly, May 29, 2004.
13. See, Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Qatar”,; “Indians now number around
420,000 in Qatar”, Thaindian News, August 7, 2008.
14. “Indian Cultural and Religious Bodies in Bahrain”, at,;
see, “Expatriate Indian population in Bahrain now 290,000”, Thaindian
News, July 5, 2008.
15. See, “Indian Associations Registered With Embassy of India, Kuwait, as on
June 22, 2010”, at,
16. Suryanarayan, V: “The Indian Community in Myanmar”, Paper no. 3523,
South Asia Analysis Group, 26 November, 2009.
17. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Myanmar”,
18. “Indian Associations and Organizations in Bangkok”,
organizations/thailand/bangkok.html; “India and Indians in Thailand”, at,
19. See, “List of Indian Organisations in Singapore”,;
Leitch Lepoer, Barbara (ed.): Singapore: A Country Study, GPO for the
Library of Congress, Washington, 1989; Siddique, Sharon; Nirmala Puru
Singapore's Little India: Past, Present, and Future (2nd ed.), Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 1990; Sinnappah, Arasaratnam: Indians
in Malaysia and Singapore, OUP, 1979.
20. See, “Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Malaysia”,; Sinnappah, op. cit.,
21. See, Indian Associations in Australia”, at,
22. See, Nambiar, D K: Our Seafaring in the Indian Ocean, Jeevan Publications,
Banglore, 1975; Pannikar, K M: Asia and Western Dominance, George Allen
and Unwin, London, 1953; Pannikar, K M: Indian and the Indian Ocean,
George Allen and Unwin, London, 1945; Toussaint, Auguste: History of the
Indian Ocean, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1966; Berlin, Donald L,
“India in the Indian Ocean”, Naval War College Review, Spring 2006.
23. Chaudhuri, K. N: Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: an Economic
History From the Rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge University Press, 1999;
Margariti, Roxani Eleni: Aden & the Indian Ocean trade: 150 years in the life
of a Medieval Arabian port, The University of North Carolina Press, 2007;
Forbes Geraldine, Tomlinson, B R Bose, Sugata: The New Cambridge
History of India, Cambridge University Press, 1989, Chapter 1; Kearney,
Milo: The Indian Ocean in World History, Routledge, London, 2004.
24. See, Indian Missions and posts abroad, Ministry of External Affairs,
Government of India, available at,; “Indian Embassies &
Consulates”, at,
25. Ashraf, Fahmida: US-Iraq War: India's Middle East Policy, Institute of
Strategic Studies, Islamabad, 2003.
26. India has Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) to promote cooperation in the
fields of art & culture, youth affairs & sports and mass media. Under cultural
exchange, India and the partner exchange the visits of scholars/academicians
in the field of art, culture and literature and also dance, music, theatre.
Cultural exchange is carried out by The Indian Council for Cultural
Relations, an autonomous organisation of the Government of India, involved
in India’s external cultural relations. See, Singh, Karan, “Cultural diplomacy
not luxury”, The Hindu, September, 3, 2005; Talbott, Strobe: Engaging India:
diplomacy, democracy, and the bomb: A Memoir, Brookings Institution Press,
2004; also visit,
27. The activities of the centers have a greater intellectual focus on lectures,
panel discussions and seminars on subjects of contemporary and cultural
interest, aimed primarily at enhancing an understanding of India. Indian
Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has established its new Cultural
Centres at Bangkok, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi and Dhaka. The
other centres in the pipeline are at Thimpu, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Dar-es-
Salaam, Budapest, Yangon, Paris, Washington, Hanoi, Lagos, Prague,
Singapore, Rome and Kuwait. See,
28. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme was
launched on 15th September, 1964 as a bilateral programme of assistance of
the Government of India. It is the flagship programme of the Indian
Goverment's technical cooperation effort, not only because of its wide
geographical coverage but also for innovative forms of technical cooperation.
Being essentially bilateral in nature, ITEC is about cooperation and
partnership for mutual benefit. It is demand-driven and response-oriented. It
is focused on addressing the needs of developing countries. Under ITEC and
its corollary SCAAP (Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa
Programme), 158 countries in Asia, Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Caribbean
and East & Central Europe are invited to share in the Indian development
experience, acquired since its Independence. See, Government of India,
Ministry of External Affairs, at,
29. Kumar, Pranav, “Contours of India's Cultural Diplomacy in Southeast Asia”,
Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies,; Also see,
“Government of India Scholarships for International Students”, at,
30. See, Ibid.,
31. For details about the Yusuf Dadoo and Monty Naicker, Scholarships, see
official Website of High Commission of India at Johannesburg, at,
32. Through the TCS of Colombo Plan, the Government of India bears the cost
of training to foreign participants by providing for the airfare, tuition fee, and
accommodation and living allowance. This scheme is administered by the
Department of Economic Affairs, under the Ministry of Finance, Government
of India. For details see, Technical Cooperation Scheme (TCS) of Colombo
Plan, and SAARC Chair, Fellowship and Scholarship Scheme at, and www.saarc-
33. For recommendations of L. M. Singhvi Committee on the Indian Diaspora,
see, The Indian Diaspora, at,
34. The event has been organized every year since the year of 2003, and is
sponsored by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and Federation of
Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The occasion is
marked by special programs to recognize the contributions of NRI/PIO
individuals of exceptional merit, felicitate NRI/PIO individuals who have
made exceptional contribution in their chosen field/profession (Pravasi
Bharatiya Samman (Hindi: NRI/PIO Award)) and provide a forum to
discuss issues and concerns that people of the Diaspora. See,
35. For list and detail see, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, from Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia, at,
36. “Cabinet secretariat to take a final call on PIO university”, The Economic
Times, October 2, 2006
36. Chishti, Muzaffar, “The Rise in Remittances to India: A Closer Look”,
Migration Policy Institute, February, 2007; Aiyer, Swaminathan S.
Anklesaria. "An Unexpected Bonanza from the NRIs", The Economic
Times, May 25, 2005.
37. Chishti, op. cit.,
38. Debabrata Patra, Michael and Kapur Muneesh, “India’s worker remittances: a
Users’ Lament about bop compilation”, Sixteenth Meeting of the IMF
Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics Washington D.C., December 1–5,
2003; also see, Gulati, Iqbal and Ashok Mody, “Remittances of Indian Migrants
to the Middle-East: An Assessment with Special Reference to Migrants from
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40. Chilana, Rajwant S, “Information & Research Resources on Indian Cinema: A
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Losing hearts and minds?: Public Diplomacy and Strategic Influence in the age of Terror
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Carnes, Lord: Losing hearts and minds?: Public Diplomacy and Strategic Influence in the age of Terror, Praeger, New York, 2006; Rana K, "Bilateral Diplomacy", DiploProjects, Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, Malta, 2002, Chapter 12;
Uil, Manjari: Foreign Influence on Indian Culture (c.600 BC to AD 320)
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Arasarathnam, S: Islamic Merchant Communities of the Indian Subcontinent in Southeast Asia
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Gupta, Anirudha: Indians Abroad: Asia and Africa, Orient Longman, New Dehli, 1971; Arasarathnam, S: Islamic Merchant Communities of the Indian Subcontinent in Southeast Asia, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 1989;
Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in South Africa
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"History of Indian Diaspora", and "Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin", at,; also see, Raymer, Steve: Images of a Journey: Images of Indian Diaspora, Indiana University Press, 2007; Kalbag, Ashwin, "Indian Diaspora Deserve Recognition for their Contributions", The Economic Times, March 29, 2010. 6. "Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in South Africa", NRI Reality News, available at,;
The Transformation of Ethnic Identities; the case of 'Coloured' and Indian South Africans
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SookDeo, A. "The Transformation of Ethnic Identities; the case of 'Coloured' and Indian South Africans", Journal of Ethnic Studies, winter 1987-1988. Western Washington University, Bellingham.
Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Malaysia
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There are more than 1.5 million Indians living in Saudi Arabia. Also see, Jha, Saurav
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See, "Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Saudi Arabia", at,; There are more than 1.5 million Indians living in Saudi Arabia. Also see, Jha, Saurav, "India and Saudi Arabia deepen Ties", World Political Review, March 29, 2010; Pant, Harsh V, "Saudi Arabia Woos China and India", The Middle East Quarterly, Vol. XIII, Number 4, Fall 2006, pp. 45-52.
Indian Ambassador Praveen Verma to Yemen Times: 'The Indian Community Feels Very Comfortable and Welcomed in This Country
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See, "Indian Associations, Organisation & Communities in Yemen", at,; Nadia Al-Sakkaf, "Indian Ambassador Praveen Verma to Yemen Times: 'The Indian Community Feels Very Comfortable and Welcomed in This Country", Yemen Times, August 17, 2009.