Those of us who live outside of India occasionally express amazement because one can go to relatively remote locations around the world and one still finds Indians who reside in those countries. In fact – and I don’t know for sure if this is accurate – I read that Indians are to be found residing, either permanently or temporarily, in just about every country in the world with the exception of North Korea! But although Indians have emigrated and have settled in so many diverse countries what is surprising is that as a percentage of India’s population the Indian diaspora is actually relatively small. It is estimated that there are approximately 25 million Indians who live outside of India!
The country with the largest diaspora spread around the world is …………….. Ireland! Someone commented on the now defunct Sepia Mutiny:
“If you really want a people who are ‘freakin’ everywhere’, the world leaders, by far, are the Irish. They are a nation of 4 million and an estimated diaspora of 150-180 million encompassing 160 nations. The Irish diaspora research, aired sometime back on the BBC, corroborates this. They called it the “Irish Empire” – a people who conquered by the world as boat people!
The Irish have a joke, and very true, that if just 5% of Irish return back to their island, the whole of Ireland would look like a Tokyo subway train at rush hour. And If 10% come back, Ireland would be sunk 200 feet beneath the sea.
In fact, the Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and even Germans are all WAY ahead of desis in this regard. And I am only talking on absolute terms, let alone relative terms.”
One could write a book about how Indians ended up in so many countries ……. the stories are fascinating. For example, Abhay Singh offered the following explanation elsewhere on the web:
“I am a 4th generation Indo-Fijian, The British took our ancestors from India to Fiji Islands some 3 hundred years ago.The first ship sailed from Calcutta to Fiji in 1776.I believe our ancestors are from Bihar. We speak a dialect close to Bhojpoori. We still and will continue to hold strong Indian values. Our women adore Indian Fashion. We are devout Hindus and great devotees of Lord Rama. Practically shun inter-race marriage, hence kept our pure blood line. Our major food is Indian food but have also fused Island food in our Diet.We enjoy Indian Music and look forward to Diwali. Most of us never been to India but we know we belong to the 2 worlds (3 for me as I have migrated to U.S). So to recap We are all Indian but with a evolved Indian lifestyle due to mingling with other races. Some parts of Fiji have heavy Napalese. We have Muslims, Gujratis, Punjabis, Madrasis, Nepalese Handful of Malayalams and some I cannot recall now. Caste system is pretty much absent. We still maintain a wonderful Gurudwara and we have plenty of Mandirs and Masjids. We are proud to be of Indian decent.”
What I found interesting in Abhay’s account is that the three hundred years that Indians have lived in Fiji has not done much to influence some of the prejudices that one finds in India such as his comment that Fijian Indians “shun inter-race marriage, hence kept our pure blood line“!
Indians have done exceptionally well in the US by almost any definition. According to Wikipedia:
“Indian Americans continuously outpace most ethnic groups socioeconomically to reach the summit of the U.S. Census charts. Indian Americans, along with other Asian Americans, have one of the highest educational levels of all ethnic groups in the U.S. Almost 67% of all Indians have a bachelor’s or high degree (compared to 28% nationally and 44% average for all Asian American groups). Almost 40% of all Indians in the United States have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average.”
Over 71% of Indians in the US have a Bachelors degree or higher compared to 28% in the US as a whole. The Chinese are the next highest group in terms of educational attainment with over 51% having a Bachelors degree or higher.
In terms of median household income, Indians are far and away the highest with an annual income of over $88,500 compared to a median household income of approximately $50,000 for all Americans. The next highest ethnic group in terms of annual median income are the Filipinos with an income of approximately $75,000 annually.
Although Indians in the US have done exceptionally well, the diaspora have a similar record of accomplishment in many of the countries to which they have emigrated. It will be interesting to see what happens to future generations and whether they will gradually fall in line with the population as a whole.
Tags: educational attainment of Indian-Americans, Fijian Indians and maintaining Indian culture, Indian diaspora in the US, Indians reside all over the world with the exception of North Korea, median income of Indian Americans