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Sam Pitroda

The relationship between overseas Indians and India is now poised for a fundamental shift because, like the US in the 1950s, India is now emerging as the new frontier of opportunity.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 10:00 IST

There is a certain underlying assumption in the term "Overseas Indian" which means that no matter where they are, people from India essentially remain Indian. They may be overseas, but they are still Indian.

It is as much a tribute to the close to 25 million Indian diaspora worldwide as it is a measure of how connected India feels to them.

Since Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, arguably the most consequential overseas Indian, returned to India in 1915 after spending 21 years in South Africa, many expatriate Indians have attempted to make a mark on the country of their origin with varying degrees of success.

Mahatma Gandhi's was, of course, a unique example and nothing of that scale has ever been attempted and accomplished since.

However, during the last decade and a half, particularly in the past five years, there has been a perceptible increase in the quality and frequency of interaction between overseas Indians and India.

In my view, that relationship is now poised for a fundamental shift predominantly because, like the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, India is now emerging as the new frontier of opportunity.

Even beyond the emotional and cultural bond between the overseas Indian and India, what is now driving the relationship is the wish to explore a new frontier of great promise, an instinct which had prompted most diasporic Indians to leave their home in the first place.

Those who left India between the 1950s and 1980s did so primarily in search of a better life and out of a sense of disillusionment about the country of their birth.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 10:00 IST