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India enters a unique phase in its history

opinionIndia enters a unique phase in its history

Today India is among the top three countries in the world in terms of PhDs and in terms of a start-up ecosystem.

As the world digested the news that India is now the most populous country in the world overtaking China, a seismic shift in the multipolar world order is in the making. There are two factors that have put India in an enviable position. An ageing European population needs a highly skilled workforce to provide the essential services that it needs to function properly. As an example, the UK is to recruit nurses from India to meet the needs of the NHS, which is struggling to cope with an ageing population. The African continent too needs entrepreneurs and engineers to accelerate their growing economies. The East African countries like Kenya and Uganda already have a big Indian presence, as does the West Africa countries. The recent civil war in Sudan drew attention to the Indian expatriate community there. Though there has been some presence of Gujaratis in Sudan for at least 150 years, there have been many recent arrivals. The Sudanese people hold Indians in high respect. In places like Mexico in South America there is a growing Indian community. For the smaller nations of the West Indies to countries like Fiji and Papua New Guinea, India is the emerging power that can provide the workforce to help raise the standards of living of these countries. India has two massive advantages over its rivals and that is proficiency in the English language and its elite educational institutions which can churn out hundreds of thousands of engineers, academics, scientists and a skilled workforce which is well versed with cutting edge technology.

Today India is among the top three countries in the world in terms of PhDs and in terms of a start-up ecosystem. There has been a significant rise in the country’s overall performance in terms of a number of publications (globally ranked 3rd now from 6th in 2013 based on National Science Foundation database), patents (globally ranked 9th in terms of resident patent filing) and quality of research publications (globally ranked 9th now from 13th in 2013) during the last 9 years.

India’s other massive advantage is its ubiquitous soft power. From Yoga to a way of life which is replete with music, dance as well as a spiritual heritage which is so colourful and inclusive that people across the world and especially in the Eastern European countries are ecstatically embracing it. The Indian expatriate community is also the most law abiding and peaceful. Wherever an Indian goes in the world he or she is respected and liked.

Let us see how the Indian diaspora is already impacting many countries starting with the United States. There are around 4.5 million Indians in the US, making up around 1.35% of the population. They are the highest earning ethnic group in the country.

12% of scientists and 38% of doctors in the US are Indians. 36% or almost 4 out of 10 scientists in NASA are Indians. Ashwin Vasavada, a project scientist for Mars Rover Curiosity Mission, is in charge of a team of 500 researchers around the globe. Nigeria born Sharmilla Bhattacharya is in charge of studying the human body in space. Sunita Williams is the second Indian-American female astronaut in NASA. She set a record of the longest cumulative spacewalk by a female astronaut, as well as the longest spaceflight by a woman. She took a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads to space. Dr. Kamlesh Lulla is part of a mission to land an American on Mars by 2030. Dr Madhulika Guhathakurta is leading the world’s first mission to the sun. Dr Suresh Kulkarni, known as “Rocket Man”, who is now retired, has successfully launched 55 NASA rockets. He has designed several rocket and missile components for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems. These are just a few names of Indian Americans who are indispensable to the US. Just 3 CEOs of Indian origin—Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Rajeev Suri of Nokia (until July 2020) and Sundar Pichai of Google—have a combined revenue exceeding the GDP of most countries. To tap into the Indian diaspora expertise the Indian government has launched the Vaibhav Fellowships inviting Indian academics to work in Indian educational institutions so that excellence is achieved with shared ideas.

What is even more remarkable is that the Indian diaspora is actively pursuing political careers too. According to Indiaspora, a US based organisation, over 200 leaders of Indian origin are holding top positions in 15 countries. The list includes diplomats, legislators, heads of central banks and civil servants. In President Joe Biden’s team there is a huge number of Indians holding powerful positions. In Britain too, starting from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak there are many Indians in positions of power. The same is true of Canada, Australia and many other countries. It is increasingly common that an Indian politician meets a politician from another country who is also Indian.

Inevitably, with the presence of the Indian diaspora in almost all parts of the world, the Indian way of life and its spiritual practices are transplanting into the host countries. Just as New York was a name that might have been given by settlers from the city of York in England, we are seeing names like New Mayapur in the US. Magnificent Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist temples can be seen in many parts of the US, UK, Australia and many other countries. The Rath Yatra festival takes place in many cities of the world. In London, every afternoon there is a Sankirtan party chanting Hare Rama, Hare Krishna on the main Oxford Street. The Emirate nations acknowledge the contribution of tens of thousands of Indians. A massive, traditional Hindu temple is under construction in Abu Dhabi under the auspices of the BAPS spiritual organisation. It has the full blessings of the ruling Sheikhs who have even donated the land for the temple. Vegetarianism is another gift of India to the world. Millions of people are abandoning meat, fish, eggs and even milk. Indian spices and vegetarian culinary heritage are increasingly being taken up by people all over the world. Yoga is practised by people internationally and tens of thousands of people follow Indian Gurus. There is a revival of Sanskrit language too, especially in the UK and Germany.

CONCLUSION

An ancient civilisation going back tens of thousands of years which was enslaved for centuries is beginning to impact the world in a positive way. It is as if a jigsaw puzzle is solved and the stars are aligned to put everything in order. The icing on the cake are the remittances sent by NRIs to India which have reached an all-time high of £107.5 billion, which no doubt boosts the Indian economy. India has a tryst with destiny to make the aphorism Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam come true.

Nitin Mehta is the founder of Indian Cultural Centre, London. www.nitinmehta.co.uk

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