By Aakash Sinha
India has a strong population of its people outside the country. It is estimated that there are over 25 million people of Indian origin spread across the globe. In fact, according to a recent survey result released by the UN, India has the largest diaspora in the world.
In this article, we shall focus specifically the regions or countries, where people of Indian origin constitute over 20 % of the total population.
- Mauritius: Surrounded by the waters of Indian Ocean, this small island of Africa having 1.3 million of people out of which 69% of the total population is of Indian community. English is the official language of Mauritius but many Indian languages (Tamil, Bhojpuri) are also spoken. Indo-Mauritian people have a great impact on politics and economy. Indian culture is a dominating face as most Hindu celebrations are public holidays. Apart from the popularity of Indian films, the beautiful island has its own group of Bhojpuri and Tamil Sega (An African music genre).
- Suriname: A neighbour of Guyana, a densely forested state on the north-eastern Atlantic coast of South America has around 28% of its population as Indian Diasporas. Indians residing here mainly speaks Dutch (official language), Hindi (more, specifically, called sarnami language), and Bhojpuri. The majority religion among the community is Hinduism followed by Islam and Christianity. A Surinamese Indian origin Education Minister Ashwin Adhin said, “Indians did not change after reaching Suriname. Everything is still there- the songs, the dances and the food like dal-puri.”
- Guyana: Adjacent to the coastline of Atlantic Ocean, Guyana is the 4th smallest country in the mainland of South America. Guyana was once a part of British colony. Around 44% of Guyanese population comprises of people from Indian origin. English is widely spoken, but Hindi, Tamil and Telugu constitute the mother tongue of significant proportion of Indians living here. Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism are the major religions being followed. Phagwah (Holi), Diwali, Eid and many other Indian festivals are celebrated in Guyana. To mark the arrival of Indians to Guyana, Indian Arrival Day is celebrated on May 5.
- Trinidad and Tobago: Located off the coast of Venezuela as the southernmost Antillean Island, these twin islands have combined population of 1.3 million people in which 40% are Indians. In terms of religion, Christianity is the main religion, then Hinduism, Islam and other African faiths are also practiced. Talking of language, English and many Indian languages (Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu) are spoken here. Also, Indo-Trinidadians have maintained their unique culture. Indian cooking, music and movies has become a part of the mainstream life style of Trinidad and Tobago.
MIDDLE EAST (The Gulf)
- United Arab Emirates: UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf. Over a million of Indian migrants are living in the UAE who form over 50% of the total population of the country. Vegetarian South Indian food, Mughlai or tandoor cuisines are very popular in the restaurants of UAE. Bollywood and Malayalam cinemas are famous among Indian expatriates and are shown in most theatres of Emirates. Indian people interact with each other in Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and Malayalam. The major religion followed is Islam.
- Kuwait: Indians fans of Bollywood movies must have heard this country’s name in recent days. “Airlift”, a Bollywood movie centred on ‘Kuwait City’ clearly shows the number of Indians residing there. This country shares its borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. 21% of Kuwaiti population comprises of Indians. Most Indians in Kuwait are practicing Hinduism with a few Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. All communities have religious freedom and can freely celebrate their festivals. Kuwait is an Islamic country but Malayalam, Tamil, English and Arabic are the major languages spoken widely. Several Indian schools exist in Kuwait.
- Fiji: An archipelago of more than 330 islands, Fiji is an island country in the western Pacific Ocean constituting 40% of the population as Indians. Most Indo-Fijians are the descendants of indentured labourers brought to Fiji during the 19th century by the British. The overwhelming majority of Indo-Fijians speak Fiji-Hindi (developed out of contact between speakers of Hindi and their bosses during the colonial era). Famous epic stories and myths such as Ramayana and Mahabharata are read, chanted and even performed during religious festivals. Diwali and Holi are celebrated by Indian Hindu while Indian Muslims observe the month of Ramadan. Also, the standard greeting in Fiji Hindi is “Namaste”.
Apart from these countries, India’s neighbour Nepal and Sri Lanka have 15% and 5% of Indian communities respectively.
Aakash Sinha is an engineering student who likes to write on different social issues.(images-wikimedia)