Several million Indians live in foreign countries. Regardless of where they live, their home country and families are never far from their minds. The Non-resident Indian (NRI) Day marks the contributions of the overseas Indian community to the welfare of India.
The Indian diaspora was the largest overseas community in 2019. There were 17.5 million NRIs globally. Indians far surpass the numbers of other nations’ migrant communities such as Mexico (11.8 million), China (10.7 million), and Russia (10.5 million). India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) publishes its official overseas population numbers. According to the MEA, the US and the UK are among the largest NRI populations. In 2018 the US was home to 3.44 million NRIs, and the UK had 1.76 million Indians.
Another category of nonresident Indians is Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs). A PIO is an individual of Indian descent born on foreign soil. Spouses of Indian citizens and individuals who formerly held Indian passports are also considered PIOs. The MEA reports there were over 31 million POIs in 2019. The vast majority of NRIs and PIOs live abroad primarily to pursue economic opportunities. They regularly send remittances to their families vias.
Non-resident Indian Day is celebrated on January 9 every year. The selection of this date has significance. On January 09, 1915, Mahatma Gandhi, India’s ‘father of the nation,’ returned from South Africa and started India’s struggle for independence. The MEA observed the Non-resident Indian Day every year from 2003 to 2014. From 2015 onwards, it is celebrated as a biennial event.
NRI day holds much importance for Indians living in other parts of the world. It reminds them that their love and contributions to their country are valued. The MEA holds a 3-day long ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-resident Day) convention in India. Several prominent NRIs attend the convention. They engage with government officials on matters about the welfare and development of India.
The President of India confers the ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Samman’ (nonresident Indian honor) Award to an NRI or an organization established by an NRI for significant contribution to India. The MEA sponsors the convention, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region. The theme of the 2019 convention was ‘The Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India.’
NRI day overseas
Many international cities have a major presence of NRIs. These include Seoul, London, and Doha. Indian embassies and high commissions in these cities organize functions on NRI Day. Hundreds of NRIs attend. The Indian Ambassador or High Commissioner in attendance makes a speech. It highlights aspects of growing bilateral relationships between India and the respective host country. The cultural events of the day often include plays enacted by students. These are meant to invoke the virtues of Gandhi’s ideals. Another favorite activity is singing Gandhi’s favorite song, ‘Vaishnav Jan Te.’ Some of these events include quiz contests where the Indian Ambassador felicitates the winners.
Non-resident Day 2021
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the country, the 16th NRI Day convention will be held virtually. The Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. V Muraleedharan, announced that PM Modi would inaugurate the convention in New Delhi on January 9. The convention will last 3 days. Its theme will be ‘Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India).’ 5 virtual conferences are planned as a build-up to Non-Resident Indian day. Their themes will be:
- Bringing together India’s Young Achievers and Diaspora (different regions of the world) Young Achievers from different walks of life
- Forging Media and Entertainment Partnership to showcase India @75
- Dialogue with Diaspora Business Leaders and CEOs – Targeting US$ 5 Trillion Aatmanirbhar Bharat Economy by boosting MSMEs
- Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
- Role of Diaspora in Promotion of Indian Culture
The convention will also include two plenary sessions on the ‘Role of Diaspora in Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Facing Post Covid Challenges – Scenario in Health, Economic, Social, and International Relations.’ The conferences will provide a platform for NRIs seeking economic changes in India to voice their opinions and concerns.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.