Chapter Six: What is the Indian Diaspora?

December 7, 2020

While writing this blog I’ve begun to follow many South Asian bloggers. A term that has come up plenty over the last few months is DIASPORA. I have to be honest, I knew the meaning of diaspora but didn’t know the ties back to India or Fiji. This blog is meant to take you on the journey that I am on to learn more about my culture, so when I learn, I hope you do too.

So what is the Indian Diaspora? The Indian Diaspora encompasses persons who can trace their origins back to India or who are Indian Citizens living abroad either temporarily or permanently.  When you just google the word Diaspora, immediately the Wikipedia definition comes up as:

dispersion of Jews

A diaspora (/daɪˈæspərə/) is a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale. Historically, the word diaspora was used to refer to the involuntary mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories, in particular the dispersion of Jews.


It’s interesting because although the term diaspora is largely tied to Jews, when you google “Indian Diaspora” you learn a different perspective.  In September 2019, the United Nations confirmed that India had the record-breaking largest diaspora in the world, with 18 million Indian people living in other countries.

The beginning of Indian migration began in the late 18th and 19th centuries with British colonization. Indians migrated as indentured laborers to former colonies like Fiji, Kenya and Malaysia. In fact Fiji is in the top 10 countries in the world with the highest percentage population of Indians at 35%. The Indian population which once made up 52% of Fiji’s population,  is decreasing rapidly as Indo-Fijians are choosing to migrate to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States (among other countries).

Indo-Fijians have struggled with the trials, triumphs and tribulations with diaspora diplomacy (the country’s diaspora community’s interest in politics and economy in the homeland), which has resulted in political successes and then coups. Indians have found political successes in other host countries. They are deeply connected to social, cultural and economic welfare in the countries in which they reside.

Why does the Indian Diaspora matter here in the US?

Indians make up about 2.8 million or 1% of the US population. (increasing by 50% in the last decade)

Indians make up the second largest immigrant group in America after Mexicans. Their median household averages $107,000. It is also the most successful, with the median household income at $107,000 – almost twice that of American-born households. Indian immigrants are more likely to be enrolled in higher education, to participate in the labor force and twice as likely to be employed in management, business, science and the arts as the overall population. – The Interpreter

In North Carolina, where Indians comprise one-quarter of a rapidly growing Asian population, South Asian women inspired by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris led a 30 percent surge in early voting,” according to Claire Wang, writing about the spike in early voting from Asian Americans.

There is something to be said about the Indian Diaspora and the new wave of community that seems to bring the younger generation of Indian Americans together. They showed up to vote strong with Biden-Harris 2020.

They are also showing up across the US over the last week making their voices heard in support of Indian farmers protests that are currently happening, due to three anti-agricultural laws that were recently passed, in September 2020. Millions who are protesting believe these laws could be detrimental to their livelihood. Peaceful protests are taking place from New Jersey to California. Learn more about the current Indian Farmer Protests happening now.

From economic development, to political ambassadors and social influencers, the Indian Diaspora is the largest in the world and continues to gain momentum in the US on all fronts. I hope after reading this you learned a little more about what the Indian Diaspora is, it’s connections to Fiji and why it’s important to understand it’s role in the US economy.



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