75th Independence Day calls for a homecoming of the diaspora
Today, the Indian diaspora comprises approximately 31 million people, spread across 146 countries. The United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Canada host an Indian diaspora population of at least one million each. In the circles particularly in India and United States, there is a lot of talk of the rise of Indian Americans or the great role Indian diaspora is playing. Kamala Harris and the Rise of Indian Americans, a recent book edited by Indian journalist Tarun Basu, provided fascinated insights about the community across a wide range of domains from politics to administration. In this 75th year of Indian Independence, one should also acknowledge the contribution of the Indian diaspora in India’s freedom struggle. The diaspora played a key role also in influencing freedom movements across various countries and continents.
After the battle of Plassey in 1757, the British government assumed control over the Indian bureaucracy, leading to wealth and human resource-draining in India. To facilitate the growth of their colonial empire, the British Indian government sent many Indians to various countries as indentured laborers. With time, these overseas Indians became economically strong and gained a say in the local governments. Many freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru or Rabindranath Tagore channelized their energies towards democracy and freedom through ideas attained during their education and experiences abroad.
Swami Vivekananda, who is considered the father of Indian spiritual nationalism, travelled across Asia, America and Europe to spread the lessons of peace and spirituality. He delivered his renowned lecture in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago and continued to stay for more than three years in the United States and England to direct the world and the Indian diaspora towards the freedom struggle. Vivekananda provided the moral and spiritual base to the Indian national movement which connected the strings of heterogeneous Indian diaspora groups.
Shyam Ji Krishna Varma was also one of the most important leaders among members of the diaspora who were contributing to the freedom of India from abroad. He led the Indian freedom struggle from Europe from 1893 to 1914 and founded the India House in London, which became the center for several Indian revolutionaries. Shyam Ji Krishna Varma also published a monthly magazine named Indian Socialist in 1905, which included critical writings against the British government in India. It acted as a catalyst in spreading nationalist feelings among the Indians residing in Europe.
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