Romancing The NRI

  • Modi must follow up his successful speeches abroad by connecting India to its diaspora
  • Enthusiastic responses to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diaspora address in Sydney matched those at New York's Madison Square Garden, showcasing the reach of a civilisational India that's larger than India as nation-state.
  •  It's not Modi's oratory alone that pulls in the crowds.
  • The real reason is that he has been able to tap into the Indian dream ­ :a deep-seated desire for India's transformation that has not only aroused hope at home but resonates abroad as well.
  • The reality is that post-independence India has underperformed relative to potential.
  • Thanks to the blinkered socialism imposed by its political elite.
  • This has caused large numbers of Indians to seek greener pastures abroad, migrating for economic reasons.
  • Those voting with their feet against distressed economic conditions were treated disdainfully at home, even as the political elite surreptitiously sent sons and daughters to feather nests abroad.
  • Modi's innovation is that he has turned around this doublethink.
  • He is no longer interested in guilt-tripping the diaspora,instead he praises them for their hard work and grit in rebuilding their lives abroad, then invites them to invest their wealth and talent at home.
  • This is an idea whose time has come.
  • The 21st century is no longer a world of nation-states bounded by their geographical borders, it is a world of overlapping concentric circles of resources, networks, influence and soft power.
  • Modi's statement that it's not governments but people who make nations conveys a realisation of this, as people are mobile and spill over borders.
  • To aid this mobility, Modi has done well to declare lifetime visas to India for people with Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards.
  • India's diaspora has spread to all corners of the world and must be leveraged for its development.
  • Easy visas are a good first step the investment climate at home must improve.
  • Economic reforms which render domestic policy liberal and transparent have to be undertaken.
  • If delivery on the vaulting hopes aroused by Modi's speeches doesn't begin soon, oratory won't pack in the crowds for very long.