EXHIBITION : ORIGINS: Creative Tracks of Indian Diaspora
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 MAPPING OF INDIAN DIASPORA > Formation Non-Resident Indians or NRI (1947 - 1975)

This period of Indian migration began with the large-scale migration of semi skilled labourers from Punjab and Bengal for the reconstruction works in UK after the end of the World War II. 

The most important feature of this phase is the out migration of professionals such as medical doctors, engineers, scientists, legal professionals and health professionals to North America, Australia in a substantial number. Interestingly most these professionals migrated were the initial batches of graduates from universities of free India.

Another major feature of this phase is the migration of professionals and students to former Soviet Union as part of the technical and cultural exchange programme between the Government of India and USSR. 

This phase is also noticeable for the beginning of migration of labourers from Kerala to Gulf countries in an un organised manner and the migration to countries in the South East Asia and Africa shown a downward trend. 

In East Africa the emergence of independent republics such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania and the ensuing racial violence and legal restrictions made millions of Indians as refugees. 

1. Semi skilled workers for the reconstruction of post World War II Europe

In the post World war II, there was a boom in the labour market throughout Europe where governments encouraged migrant workers in low and middle level jobs such as electrician, plumbers, mechanics, drivers, coachmen, mason, carpenters from various countries.

The English, French and Dutch imported the labourers from their former / colonies in large number. UK allowed the migration of semi skilled labourers from most of their former colonies, particularly India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, all of them were newly independent countries where the living and working conditions were not that lucrative. 

2. Migration of first generation Indian professionals

In the first two decades following the freedom of India from colonial rule, the Indian Government’s emphasis was on developing massive industrial and agricultural base through five-year programs. These programs called for the rapid expansion of high education facilities in the Indian Universities. 

The universities were asked to look at both the capitalist and socialist block of countries mainly by USA and USSR to adopt technologies which could be adopted and developed in India indigenously. There was an urgent demand for the professionals with technical and scientific knowledge. Graduates from these Universities were allowed to migrate to countries for post graduate and doctoral research to get new technological knowledge to develop free India.

Interestingly most of them never returned or settled down in the countries to where they have migrated. Many of them who have migrated to West were given scholarships and fellowships by the foreign Universities and were encouraged to settle down in the West. 

3. Migration of Medical professionals to USA and Australia

The most striking feature of this phase is the large-scale migration of health professionals to West. Medical doctors and Nurses were in great demand in Australia and USA, both of which were emerging as potent economic power. 

A good number of them were migrated under the pretext of seeking post graduation or doctoral research. This phase witnessed some vibrant discussion about the issue of BRAIN DRAIN.

Both in Australia and USA the Indians who have migrated during this period are the most successful professionals. Though in later years both the countries ban the entry of medical graduates, those who have migrated to USA and Australia during this phase made a great fortune for them. 

4. Migration of Indians to Soviet Union and Russia

The close economic – technological and cultural relation between former Soviet Union and India triggered of a series of migration of Indians to USSR. Most of the Indians who have migrated to USSR were of temporary and were not allowed to settle down permanently unlike their counter parts in the West.

The communist parties and their student, youth m cultural wings were beneficiaries of the free travel and ideological assistance from USSR. From Nehru to Mrs. Indira Gandhi , the close economic relation maintained by both the countries gave birth to a generation of Russian Indians. Most of these Russian Indians came back to India after their sojourn and training in USSR

5. In Africa 

The anti colonial movements by the Africans against white settlers had the Indian support particularly in east African nations such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Most of these Indians were the descendents of indentured migrant labourers who were recruited to work to develop the rail system and the trading communities from Gujarat.

Even after decades of existence and generations born and died in Africa, those Indians who were in the Tanganyika region had to face severe social, legal and cultural restrictions from the colonial administration. 

Thus it was natural for the Indians to side with the African resistance movement against colonialism. There are cases were communists from Punjab and Bengal going to Africa to lead the African resistance. 


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