NRIs (Non Resident Indians)
The Envied Section of the Indian Population.
NRIs are grudged as superior class of citizens enjoying unequal wealth besides having many fiscal sops and a special prestige with traders, bankers and government. They are liked and disliked citizens of India. All NRIs are not fortunate, more than 40% struggle and slog in miserable conditions outside India.
The origin of NRIs
Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1833 by the efforts of William Wilberforce. The British planters in Caribbean and South Africa lost their fortune as slaves became workers with many privileges and their cost cut into their profits. The short supply of human labour made the plantations companies sick. In order to fill this gap British government introduced the indentured labour plan which authorized the planters to recruit and import Asian particularly Indian labour. The Act XXXII was passed in 1867 by Lord Stanley authorizing the emigration from India into the various colonies of Britain and France. The 1100 pages Act provides many provisions to safeguard the interest, health and dignity of the Indian labourers, however scant respect was given to them and Indians were treated as slaves. Charles Anderson, wrote to the Colonial Secretary declaring that 'with few exceptions Indians are treated with great and unjust severity, by overwork and by personal chastisement’ The ship load of Indian indentured labourers were referred as “arrival of human cargo or Hill Coolies” This situation has not changed until now. Relentless campaign by Gopalakrishna Gokale and Mahatma Gandhi forced the British government to stop hiring Indian labour to South Africa and Caribbean.
Resurgence of NRIs
The outflow of NRIs dried up from 1947 to 1975 until Indira Gandhi took some initiative to protect and nurture this golden egg laying goose. She not only encouraged free flow of foreign exchange but also unfolded many sops like zero taxation, free repatriation facility, free investment inside India etc.
India is placed on the top of the list with US $ 70 billion (INR 462,000 crores) in remittance (2013) followed by China US$ 60 billion, Philippines US$ 25 billion, Mexico US$ 22 billion, Nigeria US 22 billion, Egypt US 17 billion Pakistan US$ 15 billion, Bangladesh US $ 14 billion Vietnam US$ 11 billion and Ukraine US$ 10 billion. (TOI Apr/12/2014) The NRI remittances cover 3.6% of the nominal GDP of India and are more than the total export (US$60 billion) of software products from India. (World Bank Report).
There are over 22 million NRIs and PIOs (People of Indian Origin but non Indian citizens) spread all over the world in 195 countries.
NRIs& PIOs (http://greaterpacificcapital.com/)
The remittance is 31% from Gulf states mostly from semi skilled labourers, 29% from USA contributed mostly by IT professionals/ nurses and 19% from EU contributed by IT professionals/doctors/nurses and small entrepreneurs and the remaining from other parts. Remittances from PIOs are minimal.
Indian population in USA is the most successful and well respected Diaspora. A US Congress man in 1908 charged “Indians are weak rice eaters and worshipers of different Gods; they are not fit to be citizens of this tough country”. Now they comprise high achieving individuals like US senators, Noble laureates, CEOs of fortune 500 corporations, scientists, IT professionals, prize winning authors and scientists.
The average income of Indians in USA is US$ 68000 as against $48,000 of general average. It is estimated that only 6% of the Indians live in poverty as against 15% of the general average.
Are NRIs a pride of India? Yes, but the question is “why don’t they help India with what they have achieved abroad”. They are more than willing to do any help, but do we have a trust- worthy economic/political structure? Politicians frequently enjoy foreign trips to lure the NRIs for investment. Many NRIs who invested in the real estate are in a soup. They do not expect preferential treatment but look forward to transparency and genuine business friendly atmosphere. Foreign investors enjoy the full support of their respective government in the event of any dispute or complication, but where will the NRIs go? The World Bank places India as one among the most difficult countries to do business. Recalcitrant bureaucracy and corrupt politics are the two visible termites in the national system that scares away ventures into India. Tall talks on reforms should focus more on reducing the prevailing systemic inertia.
NRIs and PIOs make less than 2% of the total population but their estimated wealth is around US$ 700 billion (INR 4.4 crores crores) which is twice more than the foreign reserves of India. They rank as the sixth wealthiest community in the world with USA in the first place followed by China, Japan, European Union and Non Resident Chinese. It is unfortunate that the West benefits more out of the NRIs than India due to her own poor governance.
Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam
Ref: Wikiepedia.com, greater pacific capital.com
Indian an Ideal Labour or Slave by the author
(Pulbished in Mylapore Club Magazine October 2015)
(1799-1869), by Daniel J. Pound
The First promoter of NRIs. National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an9453251