Indiaspora, a non-profit community, recently released an exhaustive list of eminent public officials from the Indian diaspora community, holding key leadership roles across the world.
Drawing from government websites and other publicly available resources, the 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List recognizes more than 200 leaders of Indian heritage who have ascended to the highest echelons of public service in 15 countries across the globe, with more than 60 of these leaders holding Cabinet positions.
Acknowledging the contribution of Indian diaspora leaders, MR Rangaswami, Founder of Indiaspora and a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and investor said, “These leaders are building a legacy for future generations, and one that extends beyond our community to all of the constituents and communities that they serve.”
The Indian diaspora community, at 32 million people, is the largest in the world. It includes People of Indian Origin (PIOs), Non-Residential Indians (NRIs) and Indian expatriates. Vibrant clusters of Indian diaspora communities thrive in many countries such as Australia, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, the United States, Mauritius and Suriname.
While some of the officials are part of their country’s first wave of immigration, arriving as refugees or for economic opportunities, others serving in their governments are part of subsequent waves of diaspora, who came for educational opportunities, or are of subsequent generations, noted Indiaspora sources.
Speaking on the release of the list, Arun Kumar, Chairman and CEO at KPMG India and former member of the Obama administration remarked “it is inspiring to see the number of Indian diaspora who are entering the public arena. Having had the opportunity to serve, I can speak to what a memorable and fulfilling experience it was. Above all, it was a meaningful way to give back. My hope is that this cohort of leaders will set an example for even more of the Indian diaspora to aspire to public service.”
The 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List includes diaspora members serving as diplomats, heads of public institutions, legislators, law makers, cabinet members and ministers. A special focus is given to the presence of diaspora leaders in the US, thus making Indian-Americans the highest in numbers in the list.
Cabinet members who find mention in the list includes Indian-origin British politician Rishi Sunak who serves as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK Government. Upon being designated as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in 2019, Rishi Sunak had taken the Parliamentary oath holding the Bhagwad Gita. This was a strong message conveying his strong Indian cultural roots. In Singapore, Indian diaspora leaders hold some of the key cabinet ministries. This includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Vivian Balakrishnan, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law by K. Shanmugam and Ministry for Communications and Information led by S.Iswaran. The list also features Pravind Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Mauritius. For his leadership and contributions, he was invited as the Chief Guest of the 15th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Varanasi in 2019. He followed this with a visit to the Kumbh Mela in Prayagaraj, dipping and praying to Ganga and other sacred sites like Bade Hanuman Mandir and Akshayvat.
Other prominent mentions include Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal; Chandrikapersan Santokhi, President of Suriname and Harinder Sidhu, Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government. Sidhu also served as the Australian High Commissioner to India from 2016 to 2020.
As per the Indiaspora studies, “the officials on the 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List collectively represent more than 587 million constituents, and their countries account for an estimated USD $28 trillion in GDP, demonstrating the impact that these leaders are having globally.”
The list reflects on the influence Indian diaspora community can wield across the world. They can be powerful instruments in enhancing the cultural, political and economic relations between India and the countries they currently represent. The strength and contributions of Indian diaspora towards this, as well as their ability to advocate for Indian interests on the world stage, makes them ambassadors of Indian soft power.
To further understand and document Indian presence across the world, CSP invites research on "Clusters of Excellence: Indian Migration and Soft Power." Details here.
More on the Indiaspora Lists
The Indiaspora Lists highlight the advances of the Indian diaspora and raise their profile in the global consciousness in areas such as government, business, academia, and philanthropy.
The second of the Indiaspora Lists, the inaugural Indiaspora Business Leaders List, released in July 2020, featured the Indian diaspora who are leading the largest global companies—CEOs, Presidents, or Chairpersons of the Board of Directors.
Feature image and excerpts from 2021 Indiaspora Government Leaders List Press Release, accessed here