IGNCA - Diaspora Program

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The term diaspora (Ancient Greek διασπορά, "a scattering or sowing of seeds") is used to refer to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands; being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the ensuing developments in their dispersal and culture.

In the beginning, the term Diaspora was used by the Ancient Greeks to refer to citizens of a grand city who migrated to a conquered land with the purpose of colonization to assimilate the territory into the empire.

The original meaning was cut off from the present meaning when the Old Testament was translated to Greek, the word diaspora was used to refer specifically to the populations of Jews exiled from Judea in 586 BC by the Babylonians, and Jerusalem in 136 AD by the Roman Empire. 

This term is used interchangeably to refer to the historical movements of the dispersed ethnic population of Israel, the cultural development of that population, or the population itself.

The probable origin of the word is the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 28:25, "thou shalt be a diaspora (Greek for dispersion) in all kingdoms of the earth". The term has been used in its modern sense since the late twentieth century.

The academic field of diaspora studies was established in the late twentieth century, in regard to the expanded meaning of 'diaspora'.

Since 1960s the word Diaspora has come to represent various kinds of population movement and the condition of such displaced people in dispersed state. 


An attempt to understand the movement of people from India since ancient times to contemporary period is a fascinating story of cultural exchanges that the people of India have with the rest of the world. 

The Indian classical texts describe about long journeys that saints and monks undertook for the spread of knowledge, peace and love. The archeological evidences establish the fact that Indians during ancient period did travel to other countries for trade. 

The spread of Hindu and Buddhist believes across geographical boundaries of India during the early medieval period saw the emergence of Hindu and Buddhist Kingdoms in several places. The navigational skills of people along the Indian coastal cities helped the rulers to expand the horizons of their Kingdoms. The maritime activities and ship building techniques that existed in that period reveal the movement of Indians to classical Greco Roman world. 

The movement of people resulted in the formation of Gypsies or Rromas of today are still shrouded in mystery. 

There were large scale movement of people occurred when Islam arrived in India. During this period those rulers who returned to their countries after plundering India took thousands of men and women as artists, architects, calligraphers, musicians dancers , courtesans along with other wealth. The Mughal period saw the active journey’s Indians took to several countries as emissaries, traders, scholars, artists, musicians. 

During the colonial period Indians were traded as slaves by Portuguese, Dutch, French and English imperialists. The Indians were taken to various countries as indentured labourers to develop plantation economies, construct railway networks and to serve as soldiers in the imperial military establishments. 

Large number of traders and professionals also accompanied these labourers and soldiers. 

The first set of scholars and academics came out from the universities of independent India migrated to western countries for advanced studies and research form the first diaspora in modern period. 

The migration of Indians as professionals, labourers and traders to rest of the world is a continuing saga of Indian Migration. 


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