Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin

Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin
Flag of India.svg
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Nepal 4,000,000
 United States 2,843,391
 Malaysia 2,400,000
 Myanmar 2,000,000
 Saudi Arabia 1,500,000
 England 1,414,100
 United Arab Emirates 1,400,000[1]
 South Africa 1,160,000
 Canada 1,000,000
 Mauritius 855,000
 Kuwait 580,000
 Trinidad and Tobago 525,000
 Oman 450,000
 Australia 405,000+
 Singapore 400,000
 Fiji 340,000
 France (2/3 in Réunion) 330,000[note 1]
 Guyana 327,000
 Bahrain 310,000
 Italy 150,000
 Qatar 125,000
 Netherlands 110,000
 New Zealand 105,000
 Kenya 100,000
 Thailand 100,000
 Tanzania 90,000
 Uganda 90,000
 Jamaica 90,000
 Portugal 70,000
 Israel 62,000

Indian languages · Local languages · English (for NRIs)


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Individuals of Indian origin have achieved a high demographic profile in metropolitan areas worldwide, including India Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, one of at least 20 enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged within the New York City Metropolitan Area.

A Non-Resident Indian (NRI; Hindi: प्रवासी भारतीय Pravāsī Bhāratīya) is an Indian citizen who has migrated to another country, a person of Indian origin who is born outside India, or a person of Indian origin who resides permanently outside India. Other terms with the same meaning are overseas Indian and expatriate Indian. In common usage, this often includes Indian-born individuals (and also people of other nations with Indian ancestry) who have taken the citizenship of other countries.

A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is usually a person of Indian origin who is not a citizen of India. For the purposes of issuing a PIO Card, the Indian government considers anyone of Indian origin up to four generations removed to be a PIO.[2] Spouses of people entitled to a PIO card in their own right can also carry PIO cards. This latter category includes foreign spouses of Indian nationals, regardless of ethnic origin. PIO Cards exempt holders from many restrictions applying to foreign nationals, such as visa and work permit requirements, along with certain other economic limitations.

The NRI and PIO population across the world is estimated at over 30 million. As per a UNDP's 2010 report, after China, India has the largest diaspora in the world, estimated at 25 million, besides being one of the largest "sending" nations in Asia, with an emigration rate of 0.8%. out of which, 72% work in other Asian countries. Also, as per UNESCO Institute for Statistics the number of Indian students abroad tripled from 51,000 in 1999 to over 153,000 in 2007, making India second after China among the world’s largest sending countries for tertiary students.[3]

Since 2003, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-resident India Day) sponsored by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, is being celebrated on January 9 each year in India, to "mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India". The day commemorate the arrival of Mahatama Gandhi in India from South Africa, and during three-day convention held around the day, a forum for issues concerning the Indian Diaspora is held and the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are given away.[4] As of January 2006,[5] The Indian government has introduced the "Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)" scheme to allow a limited form of dual citizenship to Indians, NRIs and PIOs for the first time since independence in 1947. The PIO Card scheme is expected to be phased out in coming years in favour of OCI.



It must be pointed out that strictly speaking "non-resident Indian" refers only to the tax status of a person, i.e., someone who, under Income Tax Act of 1961 has not resided in India for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (under Section 6), but is a citizen of India nonetheless. Residence in India, for the purposes of the Indian Income Tax Act requires stay in India of at least 182 days in a given calendar year or 365 days spread out over four consecutive years. This requirement applies to all individuals, in that a person with non-Indian citizenship can also be "resident in India" for the purposes of the Act, but a resident Indian would only be one who meets the above requirement and possesses Indian citizenship. Likewise, anyone who is not a resident of India according to the Act, is, obviously a non-resident of India, but only those who possess Indian citizenship but do not meet the requirement of residence are treated as Non-Resident Indians.

Historical migrations out of India

The most significant historical emigration from India was that of the Romani people, traditionally known by the term "Gypsies".[6] Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Romanies originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards the northwest no earlier than the 11th century. The Romani are generally believed to have originated in central India, possibly in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to northwest India (the Punjab region) around 250 B.C.

In the centuries spent here, there may have been close interaction with such established groups as the Rajputs and the Jats. Their subsequent westward migration, possibly in waves, is believed to have occurred between 500 A.D. and 1000 A.D. Contemporary populations sometimes suggested as sharing a close relationship to the Romani are the Dom people of Central Asia and the Banjara of India.[7]

Another major emigration from the subcontinent was to South East Asia. It started through early interaction of Indian traders and, after mid-first millennium CE, by some import of Brahmins. This resulted in the establishment of the so-called Indianized kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The Cholas, who were known for their naval power, conquered Sumatra and Malay Peninsula. The influence of Indian culture is still strongly felt in South East Asia, for example with the royal Brahmins of Thailand (rajkru), or especially in Bali (in Indonesia). In such cases, it is not reasonable to apply the label 'PIO' to the descendants of emigrants from several centuries back. Intermixture has been so great as to negate the value of such nomenclature in this context.

Another early diaspora, of which little is known about was a reported Indian "Shendu" community that was recorded when Yunnan was annexed by the Han Dynasty in the 1st century by the Chinese authorities.[8]

Indian trader's family in Bagamoyo, German East Africa, around 1906/18.

The Indian merchant diaspora in Central Asia and Persia emerged in the mid-16th century and remained active for over four centuries. Astrakhan at the mouth of the Volga was the first place in Tsardom of Russia where an Indian merchant colony was established as early as the 1610s. Russian chroniclers reported the presence of Hindu traders in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 18th century.[9]

During the 19th century and until the end of the Raj, much of the migration that occurred was of poor workers to other British colonies under the indenture system. The major destinations, in chronological order, were Mauritius, Guyana, the Caribbean, Fiji, and East Africa. There was also a small amount of free emigration of skilled labourers and professionals to some of these countries in the twentieth century. The event that triggered this diaspora was the Slavery Abolition Act passed by the British Parliament on August 1, 1834, which freed the slave labour force throughout the British colonies. This left many of the plantations devoid of adequate work force as the newly freed slaves left to take advantage of their freedom. This resulted in an extreme shortage of labour throughout many of the British colonies which was resolved by a massive importation of workers engaged under contracts of indentured servitude. An unrelated system involved recruitment of workers for the tea plantations of the neighbouring British colonies of Sri Lanka and Burma and the rubber plantations of British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore).

Emigration from the Republic of India

After the 1970s oil boom in the Middle East, numerous Indians emigrated to work in the Gulf countries. With modern transportation and expectations, this was on a contractual basis rather than permanent as in the 19th century cases. These Gulf countries have a common policy of not naturalizing non-Arabs, even if they are born there.

The 1990s software boom and rising economy in the USA attracted numerous Indians who emigrated to the United States of America. Today, the USA has the third largest number of Indians.

PIOs today


East Africa

Before the larger wave of migration during the British colonial era, a significant group of South Asians, especially from the west coast (Sindh, Surat, Konkan, Malabar and Lanka) regularly traveled to East Africa, especially Zanzibar. It is believed that they traveled in Arab dhows, Maratha Navy ships (under Kanhoji Angre), and possibly Chinese junks and Portuguese vessels. Some of these people settled in East Africa and later spread to places like present day Uganda. Later they mingled with the much larger wave of South Asians who came with the British.

Indian migration to the modern countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania started nearly a century ago when these were part of British East Africa. Most of these migrants were of Gujarati or Punjabi origin. Their number may have been as high as 500,000 in the 1960s. Indian-led businesses were (or are) the backbone of the economies of these countries. These ranged in the past from small rural grocery stores to sugar mills. In addition, Indian professionals, such as doctors, teachers, engineers, also played an important part in the development of these countries. After independence from Britain in the 1960s, the majority of Asians, as they were known, moved out or were forced out from these countries (in 1970's by Idi Amin in Uganda). Most of them moved to Britain, or India, or other popular destinations like the USA and Canada.


Indians in Madagascar are descended mostly from traders who arrived in 19th century looking for better opportunities. The majority of them came from the west coast of Indian state of Gujarat known as Karana (Muslim) and Banian (Hindu). The majority speak Gujarati, though some other Indian languages are spoken. Nowadays the younger generations speak at least three languages including, French or English, Gujarati and Malagasy. A large number of Indians are highly educated in Madagascar, particularly the younger generation, who try to contribute their knowledge to the development of Madagascar.


The current President of Mauritius, Anerood Jugnauth, with former US President George W. Bush. Jugnauth is of Indian descent.

Outside of India itself, Mauritius is the only country where people of Indian Origin form the vast majority (not including Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago where Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians have equal populations, or Fiji where the Indo-Fijians once formed the majority but not today). The people are known as Indo-Mauritians, and form about 70% of the population. The majority of them are Hindu (77%) and a significant group are Muslims (22%). There are also some Christians, Bahá'ís and Sikhs, but the Bahá'ís and Sikh populations do not add up to even 1% of the population. Various Indian languages are still spoken, especially Bhojpuri, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Hindi, and Urdu, but most Indo-Mauritians now speak a French-based Creole language at home, as well as French in general fields. Finding an Indo-Mauritian who exclusively speaks an Indian language is very rare.


Indians make up a quarter of Réunion's population. Most originally came as indentured workers from South India.

South Africa

Most Asians in South Africa are descended from indentured Indian labourers who were brought by the British from India in the 19th century, mostly to work in the sugar cane plantations of what is now the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). A minority are descended from Indian traders who migrated to South Africa at around the same time, many from the Gujarat area. The city of Durban has the highest number of Asians in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi worked as a lawyer in the city in the early 1900s. South Africa in fact has the highest number of people of Indian descent outside of India in the world, i.e. born in South Africa and not migrant, compared to the U.S. Most of them are fourth to fifth generation descent. Most Indian South Africans do not speak the Indian languages which were 'lost' over the generations, although they do enjoy watching Indian movies and listening to Indian music.



Though there are no official figures, it is estimated that there are around 25,000 PIOs/NRIs living in Indonesia of which the Indian expatriate community registered with the Embassy and our Consulate in Medan numbers around 5000.

Indians have been living in Indonesia for centuries from the time of the Srivijaya and Majapahit Empire both of which were Hindu and heavily influenced by the subcontinent. Indians were later brought to Indonesia by the Dutch in the 19th century as indentured laborers to work on plantations located around Medan in Sumatra. While the majority of these came from South India, a significant number also came from the north India. The Medan Indians included Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. They have now been in Indonesia for over four generations and hold Indonesian passports. While local statistics continue to suggest that there are some 40,000 PIOs in Sumatra, the vast majority are now completely assimilated in Indonesian society, though some elements of the Tamil, Sikh and Bihari Communities still maintain their cultural traditions.

The Indian Diaspora also includes several thousand Sindhi families who constitute the second wave of Indian immigrants who made Indonesia their home in the first half of the 20th century. The Sindhi community is mainly engaged in trading and commerce.

Among these communities, Tamils and to a lesser extent Sikhs were primarily engaged in agriculture while Sindhis and Punjabis mainly established themselves in textile trade and sports business.

The inflow of major Indian investments in Indonesia starting in the late 1970s drew a fresh wave of Indian investors and managers to this country. This group of entrepreneurs and business professionals has further expanded over the past two decades and now includes engineers, consultants, chartered accountants, bankers and other professionals.

The Indian community is very well regarded in Indonesia, is generally prosperous and includes individuals holding senior positions in local and multinational companies.

Due to economic factors, most traders and businessmen among PIOs have over past decades moved to Jakarta from outlying areas such as Medan and Surabaya. Almost half the Indian Community in Indonesia is now Jakarta-based; it is estimated that the population of Jakarta's Indian community is about 19,000.[10] There are six main social or professional associations in Jakarta's Indian PIO/NRI community. Gandhi Seva Loka (formerly known as Bombay Merchants Association) is a charitable institution run by the Sindhi community and is engaged mainly in educational and social activities. The India Club is a social organization of PIO/NRI professionals. An Indian Women's Association brings together PIO/NRI spouses and undertakes charitable activities. There is a Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee in Jakarta and Sindhis as well as Sikhs are associated with Gurudwara activities The (ECAII) brings together leading entrepreneurs from the Indian community with the objective of promoting bilateral economic relations, but has been largely inactive. Finally, there is the (ICAI).


Current World No. 1 of women's squash, Malaysia's Nicol David, is of Chindian descent.

Malaysia has one of the world's largest overseas Chinese and overseas Indian populations. Most Indians migrated to Malaysia as plantation laborers under British rule. They are a significant minority ethnic group, making up 8% of the Malaysian population. Most of these people are Tamils but Malayalam- Telugu, Punjabi and Gujarati- speaking people are also present. They have retained their languages and religion — 80% of ethnic Indians in Malaysia identify as Hindus. A significant number of the population are Sikhs and the rest are Christians and Muslims.

There is also a small community of Indian origin, the Chitty, who are the descendants of Tamil traders who had emigrated before 1500 AD, and Chinese and Malay locals. Considering themselves Tamil, speaking Malay, and practicing Hinduism, the Chittys number about 2000 today.


At present time, there are approximately 38,000 and more Indians and Indian Filipinos who are PIOs/NRIs as a whole living throughout the Philippines. Most are concentrated in Manila, Cebu, and Davao, and even in places like Zamboanga, and other major cities and small towns of the named 11 islands. Indians have been in the Philippines from the 4th century A.D. to the 17th century A.D. Making Hinduism and mixture of Buddhism the main religions before the onset of Islam and Catholicism by the Arabs, Malays and Indonesians, and later by the Spaniards. Many of these early populations cannot be traced any further because many have changed their surnames during the Spanish colonization.

Indians from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India also came with the British expedition against Manila that took the city from the Spaniards and occupied Manila and the area around Caintâ and Morong (which is now Rizal province) between 1762 and 1763. Many of them refused to leave, mutinied, and married local Tagalog women, which explains why many Filipinos around Caintâ, Rizal are Indian descendants.[11] Many Indians have intermarried with Filipinos, more so than in neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, mainly because their populations are largely Muslim, and Islam doesn't recognized non-Muslim males who marry Muslims. During the 1930s and 1940s, many Indians and Indian Filipinos lived in Filipino provinces, including Davao, which at the time had, and still have, many Japanese and Japanese Filipinos. When the economy of the Philippines were based in Manila, many moved there, which explains why today half of the Indian and Indian Filipino community are now based there.

Most of the Indians and Indian Filipinos in the Philippines are Sindhi and Punjabi, but there is also a large Tamil population as well. Many are fluent in Tagalog and English as well as the local language of the provinces and islands. Many are prosperous middle and higher class with their main occupations in clothing sales and marketing. Sikhs are involved largely in finance, and sales and marketing. Most of the Indians and Indian Filipinos are Hindu and Sikh, but have assimilated into Filipino culture and some are Catholic. There is a main Hindu and Sikh temple in Manila, and all over the Philippine provinces as well.


File:Former President of Singapore SR Nathan.jpg
The former President of Singapore, S.R. Nathan, is a Tamil of Indian descent.

Indians in Singapore – defined as persons of South Asian paternal ancestry – form 10% of the country's citizens and permanent residents, making them Singapore's third largest ethnic group. Among cities, Singapore has one of the largest overseas Indian populations.

Although contact with ancient India left a deep cultural impact on Singapore's indigenous Malay society, the mass migration of ethnic Indians to the island only began with the founding of modern Singapore by the British in 1819. Initially, the Indian population was transient, mainly comprising young men who came as workers, soldiers and convicts. By the mid-20th century, a settled community had emerged, with a more balanced gender ratio and a better spread of age groups. Tamil is one among the four official languages of Singapore alongside with English, Chinese and Malay.

Singapore's Indian population is notable for its class stratification, with disproportionately large elite and lower income groups. This long-standing problem has grown more visible since the 1990s with an influx of both well-educated and unskilled migrants from India, and as part of growing income inequality in Singapore. Indians earn higher incomes than Malays, the other major minority group. Indians are also significantly more likely to hold university degrees than these groups. However, the mainly locally born Indian students in public primary and secondary schools under-perform the national average at major examinations.

Singapore Indians are linguistically and religiously diverse, with Hindus and Muslims forming small majorities. Indian culture has endured and evolved over almost 200 years. By the mid to late 20th century, it had become somewhat distinct from contemporary South Asian cultures, even as Indian elements became diffused within a broader Singaporean culture. Since the 1990s, new Indian immigrants have increased the size and complexity of the local Indian population. Together with modern communications like cable television and the internet, this has connected Singapore with an emerging global Indian culture.

Prominent Indian individuals have long made a mark in Singapore as leaders of various fields in national life. Indians are also collectively well represented, and sometimes over-represented, in areas such as politics, education, diplomacy and the law. There is also a small community of Indian origin, the Chitty, who are the descendants of Tamil traders who had emigrated before 1500 AD, and Chinese and Malay locals. Considering themselves Tamil, speaking Malay, and practicing Hinduism, the Chittys number about 2000 today. Also there are many Marwaris in Singapore doing business successfully.



According to Statistics Canada, in 2006 there were 962,665 people who classified themselves as being of Indian origin, including terms of "East Indian", South Asian or Indo-Canadian. In 2001, Sikhs represented 34%, Hindus 27%, Muslims 17% and Christians 16% (7% Protestant/evangelical,9% Catholic) of the total people of Indian origin in Canada.[12] Relatively few people of Indian origin have no religious affiliation. The main Indian ethnic communities are Punjabis as well as Gujaratis, Tamils (Indian as opposed to Sri Lankan), Indo-Caribbeans (numbering approximately 200,000),Kannadigas, Keralites, Bengalis, Sindhis and others.

The first known Indian settlers in Canada were Indian army soldiers who had passed through Canada in 1897 on their way back home from attending Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebration in London, England. Some are believed to have remained in British Columbia and others returned there later. Punjabi Indians were attracted to the possibilities for farming and forestry. They were mainly male Sikhs who were seeking work opportunities. Indo-Caribbean, descendants of the Indian indentured workers who had gone to the Caribbean since 1838, made an early appearance in Canada with the arrival of the Trinidadian medical student Kenneth Mahabir and the Demerara (now Guyana) clerk M.N. Santoo, both in 1908.

The first Indian immigrants in British Columbia allegedly faced widespread racism from the local white Canadians. Race riots targeted these immigrants, as well as new Chinese immigrants. Most decided to return to India, while a few stayed behind. The Canadian government prevented these men from bringing their wives and children until 1919, another reason why many of them chose to leave. Quotas were established to prevent many Indians from moving to Canada in the early 20th century. These quotas allowed fewer than 100 people from India a year until 1957, when the number was increased to 300. In 1967, all quotas were scrapped. Immigration was then based on a point system, thus allowing many more Indians to enter. Since this open-door policy was adopted, Indians continue to come in large numbers, and roughly 25,000-30,000 arrive each year (which now makes Indians the second highest group immigrating to Canada each year, after the Chinese).

Most Indians choose to immigrate to larger urban centers like Toronto, and Vancouver, where more than 70 percent live. Smaller communities are also growing in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal. Indians in Vancouver are from diverse locations in India, such as Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. A place called Little India exists in Vancouver and a section of Gerrard Street (Toronto) in Toronto as well. Indians in Vancouver mainly live in the suburb of Surrey, or nearby Abbotsford but are also found in other parts of Vancouver. The vast majority of Vancouver Indians are of Sikh origin and have taken significant roles in politics and other professions, with several Supreme Court justices, three Attorneys General and one provincial premier hailing from the community.

The Greater Toronto Area contains the second largest population of Indian descent in North America, enumerating 484,655 residents of Indian origin as of 2006, surpassed only by the 575,541 estimate by the 2007 American Community Survey for the New York Combined Statistical Area. Note, however, that the Toronto count (but not the New York count) includes individuals of West Indian/Indo-Caribbean descent.


Shiv Chanderpaul, one of the most successful West Indian cricketers.

From 1838 to 1917, over half a million Indians from the former British Raj or British India, were brought to the British West Indies as indentured servants to address the demand for labour following the abolition of slavery. The first two shiploads arrived in British Guiana (now Guyana) on May 5, 1838.

The majority of the Indians living in the English-speaking Caribbean came from eastern Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar, while those brought to Guadeloupe and Martinique were mostly from, but not only, from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. A minority emigrated from other parts of South Asia, including present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. Other Indo-Caribbean people descend from later migrants, including Indian doctors, Gujarati businessmen and migrants from Kenya and Uganda. A vague community of modern-day immigrants from India is to be found on Saint-Martin / Sint Maarten and other islands with duty-free commercial capabilities, where they are active in business.

Indo-Caribbeans are the largest ethnic group in Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. They are the second largest group in Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and other countries. There are small populations of them in Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, French Guiana, Grenada, Panama, St. Lucia, Haiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

The indentured Indians and their descendants have actively contributed to the evolution of their adopted lands in spite of many difficulties. Jamaica has always celebrated the arrival of the East Indians in Old Harbour Bay on May 13. In 2003, Martinique celebrated the 150th anniversary of Indian arrival. Guadeloupe did the same in 2004. These celebrations were not the fact of just the Indian minority but the official recognition by the French and local authorities of their integration and their wide-scale contribution in various fields from Agriculture to Education, Politics, and to the diversification of the Creole culture. Thus the noted participation of the whole multi-ethnic population of the two islands in these events.[13]

United States of America

Indian immigration to North America started as early as 1890s. A Sikh-Canadians community has existed in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, for over 100 years. Emigration to the U.S. also started in the late 19th and early 20th century, when Sikhs arriving in Vancouver found that the fact that they were subjects of the British Empire did not mean anything in the Empire (Canada) itself, and they were blatantly discriminated against. Some of these pioneers entered the U.S or landed in Seattle and San Francisco as the ships that carried them from Asia often stopped at these ports. Most of these immigrants were Sikhs from the Punjab region. They were referred to in the U.S. as Hindus (due to a common American misconception that everyone in India was a Hindu and also for want of a term that distinguished these immigrants from Native Americans who were then called Indians).

Bobby Jindal, 55th and current Governor of the state of Louisiana.

Asian women were restricted from immigrating, because the US government passed laws in 1917 at the behest of California and other states in the west, which had experienced a large influx of Chinese, Japanese and Indian immigrants during and after the gold rush. As a result, many of the South Asian men in California married Mexican women. A fair number of these families settled down in the Central Valley in California as farmers, and continue to this day. These early immigrants were denied voting rights, family re-unification and citizenship. In 1923 the Supreme Court of the United States, in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, ruled that people from India (at the time, British India, e.g. South Asians) were ineligible for citizenship. Thind became a citizen a few years later in New York. Bhagat Singh Thind was a Sikh from India who settled in Oregon; he had earlier applied for citizenship and been rejected in Oregon.[14]

After World War II, US immigration policy changed to allow family re-unification for people of non-white origin after being banned for almost half a century. In addition, Asians were allowed to become citizens and to vote. A large number of the men who arrived before the 1940s were finally able to bring their families to the US; most of them settled in California and other west coast states.

Another wave of Indian immigrants entered the U.S. in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. A large proportion of them were Sikhs joining their family members under the new more (though not completely) color-blind immigration laws, and professionals or students that came from all over India. The Cold War created a need for engineers in the defense and aerospace industries, many of whom came from India. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Marwaris, Gujarati and South Indian Telugu people settled in the U.S. . Overall Telugus, Marwaris, Gujaratis, and Punjabis are the most prominent groups of Indian origin. The most recent and probably the largest wave of immigration to date occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000 during the internet boom. As a result, Indians in the U.S. are now one of the largest among the groups of Indian diaspora with an estimated population of about 2.7 million. In contrast to the earliest groups of Indians who entered the US workforce as taxi drivers, laborers, farmers or small business owners, the later arrivals often came as professionals or completed graduate study here and moved into the professions. They have become very successful financially thanks to the hi-tech industry, and are thus probably the most well-off community of immigrants. They are well represented in all walks of life, but particularly so in academia, information technology and medicine. There were over 4,000 PIO professors and 84,000 Indian-born students in American universities in 2007-08. The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin boasts a membership of 35,000. In 2000, Fortune magazine estimated the wealth generated by Indian Silicon Valley entrepreneurs at around $250 billion. The combined wealth of the non-resident Indian community is estimated to be over 1 trillion dollars according to a report by the High-Powered expert committee appointed by the center.[2]

Though currently the Indian diaspora in the US is largely concentrated in metropolitan areas such as New York (with the largest Indian American population, enumerating 575,541 individuals according to 2007 American Community Survey estimates by the U.S. Census) - as well as Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco - almost every metropolitan area in the US has a community of Indians.


United Kingdom

Freddie Mercury, lead singer and co-founder of the immensely successful rock band Queen, was of Parsi descent and grew up in India.

The Indian emigrant community in the United Kingdom is now in its third generation. Indians in the UK are the largest community outside of Asia proportionally, and the second largest in terms of population, only surpassed by the United States, and closely followed by Canada. The first wave of Indians in the United Kingdom worked as manual labourers and were not respected within society. However, this has changed considerably. Third and fourth generation immigrants are on the whole proving to be very successful, especially in the fields of law, business and medecine. Despite only making up 3% of the population, Indians account for 45% of students at private schools, demonstrating the financial prosperity enjoyed by many of the immigrants.

Indian culture has been constantly referenced within the wider British culture, at first as an "exotic" influence in films like My Beautiful Laundrette, but now increasingly as a familiar feature in films like Bend It Like Beckham. Indian food is now regarded as part of the British cuisine.

According to the April 2001 UK National Census,[15] There are 1,051,800 people of Indian origin in the UK. The main ethnic groups are Marwaris, Tamils, Panjabis, Gujaratis, Bengalis and Anglo-Indians. Hindus comprise 45% of the population, Sikhs 29%, Muslims 13%, Christians nearly 5%, with the remainder made up of Jains (15,000), Parsis (Zoroastrians), Buddhists and those who stated no religion. 2005 estimates state 2.41% of England's population as being Indian (not including mixed race), which would be around 1,215,400 (see Demographics of England). Following the continuous trend (including those of mixed Indian ancestry), in 2008 there are likely to be well over 1,600,000 Indian people in the UK. Some are Atheist (<1%).[16]

Most Indians in the United Kingdom have settled in London, the Midlands, the North West, Yorkshire and the South East. Their presence in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other regions is not as large. The first generation of immigrants were to be found in the east-end of London which, traditionally was the poorest area in London. However, due to gentrification, this is no longer the case.

There are 2,360,000 people currently speaking Indian languages in the United Kingdom.[17]

Middle East

There is a huge population of Indians in the Middle East, most coming from Kerala and other south Indian states, especially in the oil rich countries neighboring the Persian Gulf. Most moved to the Gulf after the oil boom to work as engineers, doctors, lawyers,labourers and for clerical jobs. Indians – all foreigners, in fact – in the Gulf do not normally become citizens however. They retain their Indian passports since most of the countries in the Gulf do not provide citizenship or permanent residency. One of the major reasons why Indians like to work in the Gulf is because it provides incomes many times over for the same type of job back in India and its geographical proximity to India. The Indian Diaspora makes up a good proportion of the working class in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In 2005, about 40% of the population in the United Arab Emirates were of Indian descent.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman. NRI population in these GCC countries is estimated to be around 6,000,000 (2006–2007), of which over 1,500,000 stay in the UAE. Majority of them originate from Rajasthan, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. NRI population tends to save and remit considerable amount to their dependents in India. It is estimated such remittances may be over USD 10 billion per annum (including remittances by formal and informal channels in 2005-2006). (Source: Research by S.Kadwe, 2007).


The Bene Israel (Hebrew: בני ישראל‎, "Sons of Israel", Marathi:बेने इस्राएल) are a group of Jews who migrated in the 19th century from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby Indian cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. In the second half of the 20th Century most of them emigrated to Israel, where they now number about 60,000. The native language of the Bene Israel is Judæo-Marathi, a form of Marathi.

Another group of Indians to arrive in Israel belong to the Bnei Menashe ("Children of Menasseh", Hebrew בני מנשה) a group of more than 9,000 people from India's North-Eastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram, who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and of whom about 1,700 now live in Israel (some of them in Israeli settlements on the West Bank). Linguistically, Bnei Menashe are Tibeto-Burmans and belong to the Mizo, Kuki and Chin peoples (the terms are virtually interchangeable).[18] The move to convert them to Judaism and bring them to Israel is politically controversial in both India and Israel.



As of 2009 it is estimated that there are over 405,000 Australians of Indian origin of which 308,542 are born in India.[19] It is said that the first Indian had come to Australia as part of Captain Cook's ship.[citation needed] Before roads and road transport were developed, many Indians had come to Australia to run camel trains. They would transport goods and mail via camel in the desert. Some of the earliest Punjabi arrivals in Australia included Kareem Bux who came as a hawker to Bendigo in 1893, Sardar Beer Singh Johal who came in 1895 and Sardar Narain Singh Heyer who arrived in 1898. Many Punjabis took part in the rush for gold on the Victorian fields. Indians also entered Australia in the first half of the 20th century when both Australia and India were still British colonies. Indian Sikhs came to work on the banana plantations in Southern Queensland. Today a large number of them live in the town of Woolgoolga (a town lying roughly half-way between Sydney and Brisbane). Some of these Indians, the descendants of Sikh plantation workers, now own banana farms in the area. There are two Sikh temples in Woolgoolga. One of which even has a museum dedicated to Sikhism. A large number of Britons and Anglo-Indians born in India migrated to Australia after 1947. These British citizens decided to settle in Australia in large numbers but are still counted as 'Indian' Nationals in the census. The third wave of Indians entered the country in the 1980s, after the demise of the white Australia policy. After the policy was abolished many Indian teachers and doctors settled in Australia. Another big influx began with the IT revolution. Large numbers of Indian software professionals arrived in Australia from 1976 onwards. After successive military coups in Fiji of 1987 and 2000 a significant number of Fijian-Indians migrated to Australia as such there is a large Fijian-Indian population in Australia. Fijian-Indians have significantly changed the character of the Indian community in Australia. While most earlier Indian migration was by educated professionals, the Fijian-Indian community was also largely by professionals but also brought many small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The current wave of Indian migration is that of engineers, tool-makers, Gujarati business families from East Africa and relatives of settled Indians. Starved of government funding, Australian education institutes are recruiting full fee paying overseas students. Many universities have permanent representatives stationed in India and other Asian countries. Their efforts have been rewarded and a new influx of Indian students entering Australia. The total number of student visas granted to Indian students for 2006-2007 were 34,136;[20] a significant rise from 2002 to 2003 when 7,603 student visa's were granted Indian students.[21]

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 87% of Indians residing in Australia are aged under 50 and over 83% of the population are proficient in English. Many in the community are Hindu and Sikh, while there are also smaller number of Christians and Muslims.[citation needed]

New Zealand

The former Governor General of New Zealand, Anand Satyanand, is of Indian descent.

Indians began to arrive in New Zealand in the late eighteenth century, mostly as crews on British ships. A small number deserted; the earliest known Indian resident of New Zealand was living with a Māori wife in the Bay of Islands in 1815. Numbers slowly increased through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, despite a law change in 1899 which was designed to keep out people who were not of 'British birth and parentage'. As in many other countries, Indians in New Zealand dispersed throughout the country and had a high rate of small business ownership, particularly fruit and vegetable shops and convenience stores. At this stage most Indian New Zealanders originated from Gujarat. Changes in immigration policy in the 1980s allowed many more Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis into the country, and the 1987 and 2000 military coups in Fiji caused a large increase in the number of Fijian Indians coming to New Zealand. Notable Indian New Zealanders include former Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner, cricketer Dipak Patel, singer Aaradhna, and former Governor General Anand Satyanand.[22]


See Indians in Fiji, Girmityas, Gujaratis in Fiji


Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Africa 2,800,000+
 South Africa Indian South Africans 1,300,000[23] 2.7%
 Mauritius Indo-Mauritian 855,000 68.3%
 Réunion (France) Réunionnais of Indian origin (Malbars) 220,000[24] 28%
 Kenya Indians in Kenya 100,000[24] 0.3%
 Tanzania Indians in Tanzania 90,000[24] 0.2%
 Uganda Indians in Uganda 90,000 0.3%
 Madagascar Indians in Madagascar 28,000[24] 0.15%
 Nigeria 25,000[24] 0.02%
 Mozambique Indians in Mozambique 21,000[24] 0.1%
 Libya 20,000[25] 0.34%
 Zimbabwe Indians in Zimbabwe 16,000[24] 0.1%
 Botswana Indians in Botswana 9,000[24] 0.5%
 Zambia Indians in Zambia 6,000[24] 0.05%
 Congo DR 6,000[24] 0.04%
 Seychelles Indo-Seychellois 5,000[24] 6.2%
 Ghana 3,800[24] 0.017%
 Eritrea 1,753[26] 0.04%
 Côte d'Ivoire 300[26] 0.0017%
 Namibia 110[26] 0.005%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Asia 9,800,000+
 Nepal Nepalese people of Indian ancestry 4,000,000[27] 14.7%
 Malaysia Malaysian Indian (Chitty · Tamils) 2,400,000 8.7%
 Burma Burmese Indians · Anglo-Indian 2,000,000[26] 4.2%
 Sri Lanka Indians in Sri Lanka (Tamils) 850,000[28] 4.4%
 Singapore Indians in Singapore 320,000 6.6%
 Indonesia Indians in Indonesia 120,000[26] 0.05%
 Thailand Indians in Thailand 65,000 0.1%
 Philippines Indian settlement in the Philippines 38,000[26][29] 0.04%
 China Indians in China (Hong Kong) Mainland China: 25,000
Hong Kong: 20,444
 Japan Indians in Japan 22,335[30] 0.02%
 Maldives Indians in Maldives 9,000[31] 3.1%
 Brunei 7,600[26] 2%
 South Korea
 North Korea
Indians in Korea 7,000[32]
 Bhutan 1,500[26] 0.07%
 Kazakhstan 1,200[34] 0.08%
 Afghanistan Indians in Afghanistan 1,000[34] 0.003%
 Uzbekistan 700[34] 0.003%
 Turkmenistan 700[34] 0.014%
 Vietnam Indians in Vietnam 1000[26] 0.0011%
 Cambodia Indians in Cambodia 1500[26] 0.01%
 Laos 125[26] 0.002%
 Kyrgyzstan 100[26] 0.002%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Middle East 4,200,000+
 Saudi Arabia Indians in Saudi Arabia 1,900,000[25] 6.1%
 United Arab Emirates Indians in the United Arab Emirates 1,300,000[35] 31.7%
 Kuwait Indians in Kuwait 580,000[36] 21.6%
 Oman Indians in Oman 450,000[25] 17.5%
 Bahrain 150,000[25] 19%
 Qatar Indians in Qatar 125,000[25] 15.7%
 Israel Indians in Israel 45,000[37] 0.7%
 Lebanon Indians in Lebanon 11,000[26] 0.27%
 Yemen 9,000[38] 0.04%
 Syria 1,800[26] 0.009%
 Iran Indians in Iran 800[34] 0.001%
 Turkey Indians in Turkey 300[39] 0.0004%
 Cyprus Indians in Cyprus 300[40] 0.24%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Europe 1,768,834+[41]
 United Kingdom British Indian 1,053,411 (2001)[42]
England 1,414,100 (2009)[43]
Wales 20,100 (2009)[44]
Scotland 17,000 (2001)[45]
Northern Ireland 1,600 (2001)[46]
 Netherlands Hindoestanen 123,000[40] 0.7%
 Italy Indians in Italy 150,000[40] 0.25%
 Portugal Indians in Portugal 70,000[40] 0.7%
 France Indian diaspora in France 65,000[40] 0.1%
 Russia Indians in Russia 40,000[47] 0.01%
 Germany Indians in Germany 97,000[40] 0.04%
 Spain Indian community of Spain 29,000[40] 0.07%
 Switzerland 13,500[40] 0.2%
 Austria 11,945[40] 0.15%
 Sweden 11,000[40] 0.1%
 Belgium Indians in Belgium 7,000[40] 0.07%
 Greece 7,000[40] 0.06%
 Norway 5,630[40] 0.1%
 Denmark 5,500[40] 0.1%
 Ukraine 3,500[40] 0.007%
 Republic of Ireland 1,600[40] 0.04%
 Romania 1,200[48] 0.0055%
 Finland Indians in Finland 1,170[40] 0.02%
 Poland Indians in Poland 2,000[40] 0.005%
 Slovakia 100[40] 0.002%
 Lithuania 100[40] 0.003%
 Bulgaria 20[40] 0.0003%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
North America 5,100,000+
 United States Indian American 2,843,391[49] 0.9%
 Canada Indo-Canadian (Tamil Canadians) 962,665[50] 2.9%
 Jamaica Indo-Jamaican 90,000[51] 3.4%
 Guadeloupe (France) Indo-Guadeloupean 55,000 13.6%
 Cuba Indo-Caribbean · Asian Latin American 34,000[52] 0.3%
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Indo-Caribbean 21,500[citation needed] 19.7%
 Grenada Indo-Grenadians 12,000 11.7%
 Martinique (France) Indo-Martiniquais 43,600 10%
 Saint Lucia Indo-Caribbean 4,700 2.8%
 Puerto Rico (United States) Asian Latin American · Indo-Caribbean 4,500[citation needed] 0.1%
 Barbados Indians in Barbados 2,200[26] 0.8%
 Mexico Indian immigration to Mexico 2,000[53] 0.0004%
 Saint Kitts and Nevis Indo-Caribbean 1,100[26] 2.6%
 Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands) Indo-Caribbean 600[54] 0.3%
 Belize Indians in Belize 500[26] 0.2%
 Antigua and Barbuda Indo-Caribbean 300[55] 0.4%
 Haiti Indo-Haitian 200[56] 0.4%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
South America 510,000+
 Trinidad and Tobago Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian 525,000[57] 40.2%
 Guyana Indo-Guyanese 327,000 43.5%
 Suriname Indo-Surinamese 135,000 27.4%
 Panama Indians in Panama 20,000 0.3%
 Brazil Indian immigration to Brazil 1,900[26] 0.001%
 Argentina Indians in Argentina 1,600[26] 0.004%
 Chile Indians in Chile 1,400[58] 0.004%
 Venezuela Indians in Venezuela 690[26] 0.0026%
 Peru Asian Latin American 145[26] 0.0005%
 Uruguay Indians in Uruguay 90-100[59] 0.001%
 Colombia Asian Latin American 20[26] 0.00004%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Oceania 850,000+
 Fiji Indians in Fiji 340,000 40.1%
 Australia Indian Australian 405,000+[19] 2.0%
 New Zealand Indian New Zealander 105,000[60] 2.6%
Total overseas Indian population ~24,000,000

See also

Diaspora of Indian ethnic groups

Related diasporas



  1. ^ Includes NRI/PIO population in Réunion, Guadeloupe and Martinique.


  1. ^ Expatriate Indians in UAE not hit by global meltdown
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Health care fails to reach migrants". Hindustan Times. December 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas". Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs . 
  5. ^
  6. ^ The History and Origin of the Roma
  7. ^ Hancock, Ian. Ame Sam e Rromane Džene/We are the Romani people. p. 13. ISBN 1902806190. 
  8. ^ Tan Chung (1998). A Sino-Indian Perspective for India-China Understanding.
  9. ^ The Indian Diaspora In Russia
  10. ^ Kesavapany, K.; Mani, A; P. Ramasamy. Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 234. ISBN 9812307990. 
  11. ^ Singhs, Ajit (2007). Indian Communities in Southeast Asia. Philippines: Institute of Southeast Asia studies. ISBN 9789812304186.,M1. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ 1.6 million Indians in the UK
  17. ^ 2.36 million Indian Language speakers in the UK
  18. ^ Vijayanand Kommaluri, R. Subramanian, and Anand Sagar K (2005-07-07). "Issues in Morphological Analysis of North-East Indian Languages". Language in India. Retrieved 2007-03-04. 
  19. ^ a b Colebatch, Tim (July 30, 2010). "Asia-born population matching local born". The Age (Melbourne). 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Book1
  22. ^ Indians in Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand:
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l
  25. ^ a b c d e
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Overseas Indian Population 2001. Little India.
  27. ^ Where big can be bothersome. The Hindu. January 07, 2001.
  28. ^ Data for 2001. From Lal, Brij V. (Gen. ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Indian Diaspora. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2006, p.144
  29. ^ Indian Diaspora in the Philippines
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ More Indian Techies in South Korea.
  33. ^ Overseas Indian Population 2001.
  34. ^ a b c d e
  35. ^
  36. ^ A microcosm of India in the heart of oil-rich Kuwait
  37. ^ Indians in Israel
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u
  41. ^ Indian population growth
  42. ^ "The UK population: By ethnic group, April 2001". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  43. ^ Indians in England
  44. ^ Indians in Wales
  45. ^ Indians in Scotland
  46. ^ Indians in Northern Ireland
  47. ^ : The Indian Diaspora In Russia
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories - 20% sample data
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ : Indian Ministry of External Affairs - INDIA-MEXICO RELATIONS
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ - India-Haiti: relationships that are consolidated
  57. ^
  58. ^ : 09 October 08 Bharat Dadlani: "The Hindu community in Chile feels like home
  59. ^ [1]
  60. ^

Further reading

  • HAQUE, Shahzaman (2010b) "Enjeux des politiques linguistiques: pratiques et comportements langagiers mutilingues dans un pays monolingue". In: M.Iliescu, H. Siller-Runggaldier, P. Danler (éds.) Actes du XXVe Congrès International de Linguistique et de Philologie Romanes, Innsbruck 2007, Tome I. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 163-172. Available at
  • HAQUE, Shahzaman (2010a) "Place des langues natives et d'accueil chez trois familles migrantes indiennes en Europe". In Andrea Rocci, Alexandre Duchêne, Aleksandra Gnach & Daniel Stotz (Eds.) Bulletin Suisse de Linguistique Appliquée, printemps 2010: Sociétés en mutations: les défis méthodologiques de la linguistique appliquée. Numéro Spécial, 2010/1, 225-236
  • HAQUE, Shahzaman (2008) 2008 "Différences de politiques linguisitiques entre nation et famille: Etude de cas de trois familles indiennes migrantes dans trois pays d'Europe". In: Suvremena Lingvistika Vol. 34 (65), 57-72. Available at
  • LAKHA, Salim & STEVENSON, Michael (2001) "Indian Identity in Multicultural Melbourne. Some preliminary observations. Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3, 245-262.
  • MEARNS, D.T. (1995) "Shiva's other children. Religion and social identity amongst overseas Indians. New Delhi: Sage.

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