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Mirror Abroad

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The Indian Diaspora spread across the world acts not only as a noteworthy connect with numerous nations but, like it or not, also seems to have become an important ‘electoral constituency’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in true Gujarati fashion, has always known its significance and cultivated its goodwill on his trips abroad. Now, with his attempts to hollow out the PM’s popularity abroad, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is hoping to create a following of his own among people of Indian origin.

The Diaspora clout comes not just from the remittances sent home, which have only increased no matter how much ‘settled’ Indians are in other countries, but also from the immediacy events in India have acquired through social media and other means of communication. They can track and relate to events taking place in the home country, state and city on a day to day basis, increasing their sense of involvement. As such, they can also influence thinking at home through their inputs.

With India looking to attract increased investments from abroad and Indians having reached the corporate heights everywhere, it is important that PIOs have a positive view of the country. This cannot of course be won by promising free bus rides or free rations. Their approach will be entirely pragmatic and based also on the interests of their host countries. In that sense, it should be the effort of all Indians to promote a positive image abroad.

If the Diaspora becomes convinced that India is returning to a socialist economic model and remains divided on communal lines, it could lose its present enthusiasm, which is so overtly visible at PM Modi’s gatherings abroad. This could impact the PM’s ability to deliver on his sub-continental size projects. The Congress probably sees this as advantageous to its electoral prospects.

Thus far, however, there does not seem to be a reduction in Modi’s fan base abroad, a vociferous patriotic lot – certainly not the kind that does not bother even to stand up for the national anthem. It will become better known when, after Rahul Gandhi’s efforts, the PM visits the US. It will also be an indication of the ‘national’ mood at home and whether there exists an ‘undercurrent’ as claimed by Modi’s wannabe primary rival.