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10th January Current Affairs

Indians abroad: History, spread, remittances

(GS-II: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora)

In News:

The PM of India recently opened the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention in Indore, MP, stating that Indian diaspora serve as “brand ambassadors” for the country on foreign soil.

The word diaspora comes from the Greek word diaspeiro, which means dispersion.

Why is the PBD convention held?

The convention began in 2003 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and has grown in size and scope since 2015, when the Ministry of External Affairs made the event a biennial affair.

The day marks the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa on January 9, 1915.

It aims to project the truth about India to the rest of the world in a credible and effective manner, countering propaganda and publicise India’s development story.

Various waves of Indian migration:

The 1st wave (in the 19th and early 20th centuries) took place under the ‘Girmitiya’

The indentured labourers were shipped to countries in the east Pacific and the Caribbean islands to work on plantations in British colonies struggling as a result of labour crisis after the abolition of slavery in 1833-34.

Nearly 20 lakh Indians went to Singapore and Malaysia to work in farms in the 2nd wave, while professionals went to western countries and workers went to Gulf and west Asian countries in the aftermath of the oil boom during the 3rd and 4th waves.

3 categories of Indian diaspora:

Non-Resident Indians (NRI) are Indians who are residents of foreign countries.

Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) refers to a foreign citizen (except a national of Pakistan, Afghanistan Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal).

Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) is a separate category carved out in 2006.

According to the MEA

PIOs refers to those:

  • Who at any time held an Indian passport, or
  • Who or either of their parents/grandparents/great grandparents was born and permanently resided in India as defined in Government of India Act, 1935, or
  • Who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO

An OCI card was given to a foreign national:

  • Who was eligible to be a citizen of India on January 26, 1950
  • Was a citizen of India on or at any time after January 26, 1950, or
  • Belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947
  • Minor children of such individuals, except those who were a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, were also eligible for OCI cards.

The PIO category was abolished in 2015 and merged with the OCI category

The size and geographical spread of the Indian diaspora:

According to the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs, there were 4.7 (four point seven) crore Indians (including students also) as of December 31, 2021.

According to the World Migration Report prepared by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, India has the world’s largest emigrant population, followed by Mexico, Russia and China.

The Importance of the Indian Diaspora:

Remittances are a vital source of household income for low and middle-income countries like India.

The top five remittance recipient countries are India, China, Mexico, the Philippines, and Egypt, and according to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief 2022, India is on track to receive more than $100 billion in yearly remittances.

The active and vocal political positions of a segment of the Indian diaspora, particularly in the US and the UK, are a relatively new phenomenon.

Concerns: The Parliamentary Committee stated that conventions such as the PBD appear to exclude a large segment of the diaspora that is not wealthy (low/semi-skilled and blue-collar workers).

Conclusion:

The participation and involvement in the PBD convention should be more broad-based, including vulnerable segments of the diaspora community.

Article 176 of the Indian Constitution

In News:

The governor-government tussle in Tamil Nadu erupted in the assembly after the CM objected to the Governor skipping portions of his customary speech to the state legislature and tabled a resolution against him, prompting the latter to leave the House.

Article 176 (Special address by the Governor):

The Governor shall address the Legislative Assembly or both Houses (in the case of a State having a Legislative Council), assembled together at the

  • Commencement of the first session after each general election to the Legislative Assembly and
  • Commencement of the first session of each year

Provision shall be made by the rules regulating the procedure of the House or either House for the allotment of time for discussion of the matters referred to in such address.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

In News:

IIT Jodhpur, Dystrophy Annihilation Research Trust (DART) and AIIMS Jodhpur are working on developing an affordable treatment for a rare and incurable genetic disorder called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

About DMD:

It is the most common and fatal type of muscular dystrophy marked by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness due to alterations of a protein called “dystrophin” that helps keep muscle cells intact.

Patients (usually children) have reduced bone density and an increased risk of developing fractures.

India has over 5 lakh patients in the country suffering from DMD and the condition is predominantly seen in boys, but in rare cases, it can also affect girls.

The current therapeutic options available to treat DMD are minimal and highly expensive treatment and are mostly imported from abroad.

What does the latest research include?

DMD is patient specific. Gene Mutations occurring in a patient may vary from the other, thus reducing the scope of universal treatment or therapeutics.

Antisense Oligonucleotide (AON)-based therapeutics’ idea is to mask specific exons in a gene sequence.

The research team is working to replace this with molecular tags, so that customised/personalised medicine can be developed.

Researchers have made progress in the development of generic Utrophin Modulators.

  • Utrophin and Dystrophin can co-localise in human muscle.
  • Utrophin overexpression could act as a surrogate, compensating for the lack of dystrophin.