The Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOU) Vice Chancellor, Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai inaugurated a two-day International Conference on 'Diaspora and Development: Prospects and Implications for Nation States' and announced that the university is in the process of setting up a Centre for Diasporic Studies in its campus. “I am confident that this conference will provide an opportunity to share thoughts on how India can benefit by mutual interactions,” he said.
“The connotations of the term Diaspora have gone far beyond forced exile and desire for homeland. Today, Diaspora is a generic concept of a trans-national population, and India represents this concept in a major way. In many ways, IGNOU is like the Diaspora. In most countries, Diaspora is quite a small community, but it punches far beyond its weight. IGNOU is doing the same in many ways” said Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), who was the chief guest during the inauguration held at IGNOU's Convention Centre.
Jointly organised by the School of Extension and Development Studies (SOEDS) and the School of Interdisciplinary and Trans-disciplinary Studies (SOITS) of the university, the conference broadly addressed the socio-economic, political, cultural and gender issues to provide holistic perspectives in understanding the interlinkages in diaspora and development.
The conference saw the participation of diaspora experts from over 25 countries, who deliberated upon various themes such as Diaspora and Development Dynamics: Issues, Strategies and Practices; Diaspora Finance and Socio-Economic Development; Human Development; Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion; Diasporic Writings; Gender in the Diaspora; and Films & Theatre.
“There have been three major waves of economic migration in Indiatill now — the indentured labour migration during colonial times; the movement from South Asia to the Gulf in the post Independenceperiod; and the movement of professional/skilled workers to the West. However, the most unique wave is the return migration, wherein these professionals are coming back to India in large numbers,” he added.