Indian nationality law


The Citizenship Act, 1955
An Act to provide for acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship.
Citation Act No 57 of 1955
Enacted by Parliament of India
Date assented to 30 December 1955
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005
Along with the Constitution of India, the Citizenship Act, 1955, is the exhaustive law relating to citizenship in India.

The conferment of a person, as a citizen of India, is governed by Articles 5 to 11 (Part II) of Indian Constitution. The legislation related to this matter is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.

Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen. Also, according to The Passports Act, a person has to surrender his/her Indian passport; it is a punishable offence under the act if he fails to surrender the passport.

Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory). The President of India is termed the first Citizen of India.


  • 1 History
  • 2 Granting of citizenship
    • 2.1 Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution of India
    • 2.2 Citizenship by birth
    • 2.3 Citizenship by descent
    • 2.4 Citizenship by registration
    • 2.5 Citizenship by naturalisation
  • 3 Renunciation and termination of Indian citizenship
  • 4 Overseas Citizenship of India
    • 4.1 Eligibility
    • 4.2 Privileges
    • 4.3 Effect on granting British citizenship
  • 5 Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Card
  • 6 Visa requirements


Approximately from 19th century till its Independence in 1947, India was a part of the British Empire. However, between 1 January 1949 and 25 January 1950, Indians were British subjects, by virtue of Section 18(3) of Indian Independence Act, unless they had already acquired citizenship of United Kingdom or any other country.

On commencement of the Indian Constitution on 26 January 1950, the Indians were no longer British subjects. Moreover, they enjoyed the status of Commonwealth citizen (also known as a British subject with Commonwealth citizenship, a status which does not entitle the person to use a British passport), by virtue of their Indian citizenship and India’s membership of the Commonwealth. However, a number of Indians did not acquire Indian citizenship on commencement of the Indian Constitution and retained British subject without citizenship status (which entitles a person to a British passport) unless they had acquired citizenship of another Commonwealth country.

On 20 December 1961, India acquired the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli after the military action which were under the territories of Portugal. The French territory of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahé, Yanam and the Free town of Chandranagore, were acquired under treaty of cession with France. Sikkim was also merged with India and became a constituent state with effect from 16 May 1975. Some of the enclaves in the eastern part of India, were also acquired under border agreements with Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively

In order to expressly provide the citizenship for people in territories as mentioned above, the central government issued the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Citizenship) Order, 1962 and Citizenship (Pondicherry) Order 1962, in exercise of its powers under section 7 of the Citizenship act and for Sikkim, the President extended the Citizenship act, and the relevant rules under Article 371-F(n) of Indian Constitution. In case of acquired enclaves, that did not necessitate legislative action, as that was only a border demarcation agreement.

Granting of citizenship

Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution of India

Persons domiciled in the territory of India as on 26 November 1949 automatically became Indian citizens by virtue of operation of the relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution coming into force, and most of these constitutional provisions came into force on 26 January 1950. The Constitution of India also made provision regarding citizenship for migrants from the territories of Pakistan which had been part of India before partition.

Citizenship by birth

Any person born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the 1986 Act on 1 July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth. A person born in India on or after 1 July 1987 is a citizen of India if either parent was a citizen of India at the time of the birth. Those born in India on or after 3 December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both of their parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth. In September 2013, Bombay High Court gave a judgement that a birth certificate, passport or even an Aadhaar card alone may not be enough to prove Indian citizenship, unless the parents are Indian citizens.

Citizenship by descent

Persons born outside India on or after 26 January 1950 but before 10 December 1992 are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.

Persons born outside India on or after 10 December 1992 are considered citizens of India if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth.

From 3 December 2004 onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian diplomatic mission within one year of the date of birth. In certain circumstances it is possible to register after one year with the permission of the Central Government. The application for registration of the birth of a child must be made to an Indian diplomatic mission and must be accompanied by an undertaking in writing from the parents of the child that he or she does not hold the passport of another country.

Citizenship by registration

The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India under section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1955 any person (not being an illegal migrant) if s/he belongs to any of the following categories:

  • a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making application under section 5(1)(a) (throughout the period of twelve months immediately before making application and for six years in the aggregate in the eight years preceding the 12 months).
  • a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
  • a person who is married to a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;
  • minor children of persons who are citizens of India;
  • a person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India.
  • a person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for one year immediately before making an application for registration;
  • a person of full age and capacity who has been registered as an overseas citizen of India for five years, and who has been residing in India for one year before making an application for registration.

Citizenship by naturalisation

Citizenship of India by naturalisation can be acquired by a foreigner (not illegal migrant) who is ordinarily resident in India for 12 years (throughout the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of application and for 11 years in the aggregate in the 14 years preceding the 12 months) and other qualifications as specified in Third Schedule to the Citizen Act.

Renunciation and termination of Indian citizenship

Renunciation is covered in Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955. If an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, s/he loses Indian citizenship. In addition, any minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship from the date of renunciation. When the child reaches the age of 18, he or she has the right to have his or her Indian citizenship restored. The provisions for making a declaration of renunciation under Indian citizenship law require that the person making the declaration be “of full age and capacity”.


Termination is covered in Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The provisions for termination are separate and distinct from the provisions for making a declaration of renunciation.

Section 9(1) of the act provides that any citizen of India who by naturalisation or registration acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of India. Notably, the termination provision differs from the renunciation provision because it applies to “any citizen of India” and is not restricted to adults. Indian children therefore also automatically lose their claim to Indian citizenship if at any time after birth they acquire a citizenship of another country by, for example, naturalisation or registration — even if the acquisition of another citizenship was done as a result of actions by the child’s parents.

The acquisition of another country’s passport is also deemed under the Citizenship Rules, 1956 to be voluntary acquisition of another country’s nationality. Rule 3 of Schedule III of the Citizenship Rules, 1956 states that “the fact that a citizen of India has obtained on any date a passport from the Government of any other country shall be conclusive proof of his/her having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of that country before that date”. Again, this rule applies even if the foreign passport was obtained for the child by his or her parents, and even if possession of such a passport is required by the laws of a foreign country which considers the child to be one of its citizens (e.g., a US-born child of Indian parents who is automatically deemed to be a US citizen according to US law, and who is therefore required by US law to have a US passport in order to enter and leave the US). It does not matter that a person continues to hold an Indian passport. This rule seemingly even applies if the foreign nationality was automatically had from birth, and thus not voluntarily acquired after birth. Persons who acquire another citizenship lose Indian citizenship from the date on which they acquire that citizenship or another country’s passport. The prevailing practice at a number of British diplomatic posts, for example, is to impound and return to the Indian authorities the Indian passports of those applicants who apply for and are granted British passports

Special rules exist for Indian citizens with a connection to Goa, Daman and Diu. Rule 3A of Schedule III of the Citizenship Rules, 1956 states that “Where a person, who has become an Indian Citizen by virtue of the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, or the Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Citizenship) Order 1962, issued under section 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955) holds a passport issued by the Government of any other country, the fact that he has not surrendered the said passport on or before the 19 January 1963 shall be conclusive proof of his/her having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of that country before that date.

On 16 February 1962, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India held in the case of Izhar Ahmad Khan vs Union of India that “If it is shown that the person has acquired foreign citizenship either by naturalisation or registration, there can be no doubt that s/he ceases to be a citizen of India in consequence of such naturalisation or registration.”

Overseas Citizenship of India

Front Cover of an OCI Registration Certificate. Note: It may look like but it is not a passport nor does it confer actual Dual citizenship.

In response to persistent demands for dual citizenship, particularly from the diaspora in North America and other developed countries, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme was introduced by amending The Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005. The scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention at Hyderabad in 2006. Indian authorities have interpreted the law to mean a person cannot have a second country’s passport simultaneously with an Indian one — even in the case of a child who is claimed by another country as a citizen of that country, and who may be required by the laws of the other country to use one of its passports for foreign travel (such as a child born in the United States or in Australia to Indian parents), and the Indian courts have given the executive branch wide discretion over this matter. Therefore, Overseas Citizenship of India is not an actual citizenship of India and thus, does not amount to dual citizenship or dual nationality. Moreover, the OCI card is not a substitute for an Indian visa and therefore, the passport which displays the lifetime visa must be carried by OCI holders while travelling to India. OCI Cards are now being printed without the lifelong “U” Visa Sticker (which is normally pasted on the applicant’s passport). The proof of lifelong visa will be just the OCI Card which will have “Life Time Visa” printed on it. The OCI Card will be valid with any Valid Passport.”However, countries may consider the OCI as dual citizenship: for example, the UK government considers that, for purposes of the British Nationality Act 1981, “OCI is considered to be citizenship of another State”.


The Central Indian Government, on application, may register any person as an Overseas Citizen of India if the person:-

  • was a citizen of India on 26 January 1950 or at any time thereafter; or
  • belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15 August 1947; or
  • is the child or grandchild of a person described above; and
  • has never been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh; and
  • has had no involvement in serious offences like drug trafficking, moral turpitude, terrorist activities or anything leading to imprisonment of more than a year.
  • Applicant’s country of citizenship allows dual citizenship (even though OCI is not an actual Indian citizenship).


An Overseas Citizen of India will enjoy all rights and privileges available to Non-Resident Indians on a parity basis excluding the right to invest in agriculture and plantation properties or hold public office It is very important that the person carry his/her existing foreign passport which should include the new visa called ‘U’ visa which is a multi-purpose, multiple-entry, lifelong visa. It will entitle the Overseas Citizen of India to visit the country at any time for any length of time and for any purpose. Any changes to the foreign passport, should be conveyed to the Indian Embassy, so that everything will be consistent. However OCI card holders desirous of visiting India for the purpose of conducting research must obtain separately a No Objection/Research Project Clearance Certificate from Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), India and that can applied at nearest Indian Diplomatic Mission. This includes Scholars awarded Scholarship under Fulbright or any other scheme.

Overseas citizens of India will not enjoy the following rights even if resident in India:

  • (i) the right to vote,
  • (ii) the right to hold the offices of President, Vice-President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, Member of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assembly or Council,
  • (iii) appointment to Public Services (Government Service). Also, Overseas Citizens of India are not eligible for an Inner Line Permit, and they have to apply for a protected area permit if they want to visit certain areas in India.

Though not actual dual citizenship, the privileges afforded by acquiring an OCI card is that now multi-national companies are finding it simpler to hire the OCI cardholders, who enjoy a multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India. The card provides a lifelong visa to the holder, sparing them the need for permits. OCI holders are treated on par with NRIs for economic, financial and educational matters and only don’t have political rights and rights to buy agricultural and plantation properties or hold public office.

Since the launch of Overseas Citizenship in 2006, the Indian government has announced some ‘additional benefits’ during its annual diaspora conference, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. In 2007, OCI card holders were given parity with Indian citizens abroad in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children, for domestic air fares and for admittance into national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. In 2009, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs granted OCI card holders parity with NRIs for working as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants. And the parity with NRIs was extended to entry fees for national monuments, historical sites and museums. Further in 2012, the privilege was added that Indian State governments should ensure that OCI registration booklets are treated as overseas citizens’ identification and included a facilitated rule for providing proof of residence.

In addition, OCI cardholders who wish to gain (or regain) Indian citizenship and are willing to renounce their other citizenship are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship if they have been an OCI card-holder for the previous five years and have resided in India for at least one of those five years.

They are also exempt from registration with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) on their arrival in the country and can stay or live for as long as they wish. OCI cardholders can travel at very short notice and take up assignments in India, while others could get caught up in bureaucratic delays over their employment visa. Many companies are following an active policy of moving PIOs to India for business expansion. Indian missions overseas are witnessing a deluge in OCI applications, the number of OCI cards issued by diplomatic missions around the world have been steadily rising with several Indian diplomatic missions grappling with a huge backlog of applications

Research on the effects of Overseas Citizenship of India shows three effects. (a) It enables overseas citizens by granting special privileges; (b) it affects expectations about privileges; and (c) it eases the transaction process and reducing costs and risks. Regarding the latter, a special status like OCI reduces the actual and expected cost of an operation through exemptions from formal requirements and by serving as official proof of being entitled.

Effect on granting British citizenship

Acquiring Overseas citizenship of India prevents British National (Overseas) and British Overseas citizens from registering as full British citizens under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 (which requires that they have no other citizenship in order to register It does not prevent them from acquiring full British citizenship by a different method and it does not revoke their British citizenship if they have already registered under Section 4B.

Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Card

Main article: Persons of Indian Origin Card

This was a form of identification issued to an individuals who held a passport in a country other than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and could prove their Indian origin up to three generations before.

In early 2011, the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, announced that the Person of Indian Origin card will be merged with the Overseas Citizen of India card. This new card was proposed to be called the Overseas Indian Card.

As of 9 January 2015, the PIO card scheme has been discontinued and applicants are to apply for OCI only. All currently held PIO cards are treated as OCI cards. PIO card holders will get a special stamp in their existing PIO card, saying “lifelong validity” thus making them equal to existing OCI cards.

Visa requirements

Main article: Visa requirements for Indian citizens

Visa requirements for Indian citizens


Visa free

Visa issued upon arrival

Electronic authorisation or eVisa

Visa required prior to arrival

Visa requirements for Indian citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of India. According to the 2014 Visa Restrictions Index, holders of an Indian passport can visit 52 countries and territories visa-free or with visa on arrival, and India is currently ranked 76th in terms of travel freedom.

Persons of Indian Origin Card


Persons of Indian Origin Card
Date first issued 15 September 2002
Issued by  India
Purpose Identification
Expiration 9 January 2015 (merged with OCI)


A stamped PIO Card making it de facto an OCI card

Persons of Indian Origin Card (PIO Card) was a form of identification issued to a Person of Indian Origin who held a passport in a country other than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

On 9 January 2015, the Person of Indian Origin card scheme was withdrawn by the Government of India and was merged with the Overseas Citizen of India card scheme. All currently held PIO cards are treated as OCI cards. PIO card holders will get a special stamp in their existing PIO card, saying “lifelong validity” and “registration not required”, thus making them equal to existing OCI cards.


  • 1 Conditions
  • 2 Uses
  • 3 Registration/Residential Permit


The conditions for issuing a PIO card to a person used to be

  1. Any person who has ever held an Indian passport, or
  2. The person’s parents, grandparents or great grandparents were born in and were permanent residents of India and never moved to (ie, were never nationals of) Bangladesh and Pakistan, or
  3. The person is the spouse of a citizen of India or of a PIO and has been so for two years or more, and
  4. The person and his/her parents, grandparents or great grandparents must not have been a national of Bangladesh or Pakistan at any point of time.

The PIO Card Programme came into effect on 15 September 2002.


The various benefits available to a PIO cardholders were:

  • Visa-free entry into India during the period of validity of PIO Card.
  • Exemption from the requirement of registration if stay in India does not exceed six months. Should the continuous stay exceed six months, registration is not required even if their visit exceeds 180 days.
  • Parity with non-resident Indians in respect of facilities available to the latter in economic, financial and educational fields.
  • All facilities in the matter of acquisition, holding, transfer and disposal of immovable properties in India except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural/plantation properties.
  • Facilities available to children of Non-Resident Indians for getting admission to educational institutions in India including medical colleges, engineering colleges, Institutes of Technology, Institutes of Management etc under the general categories.
  • Facilities available under the various housing schemes of LIC, State Governments and other Government agencies.

Persons with a PIO were not

  • allowed to vote
  • eligible for an Inner Line Permit. They had to apply for a Protected area permit.

Registration/Residential Permit

PIO card holders needed to register with the appropriate FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) if they are planning to stay in India for more than 180 days. This requirement is not applicable for minors. However, in November 2014, this requirement was removed.

The FRRO will issue a “Residential Permit For PIO” which is typically valid till the expiry of the PIO card holder’s passport. On 28 September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at Madison Square Garden (New York) that very soon PIO card holders will get lifelong visas. This eventually became a reality in November.

This article has been updated to reflect the removal of the PIO status as of 9 January 2015. If you currently hold a PIO card, it will be treated as an OCI card.

Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Non-Resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin)

For other uses, see Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Non-Status Indians.

Non-Resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin
National Flag of India
Total population
Est 30,000,000+
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal 6,000,000
 United States 3,443,063
 Malaysia 2,088,000
 United Kingdom 1,451,862
 Canada 1,214,110
 South Africa 1,286,930
 Myanmar 1,100,000
 Mauritius 882,220
 Oman 670,000
 Kuwait 579,390
 Sri Lanka 551,500
 Qatar 545,000
 Trinidad and Tobago 468,500
 France (+Réunion, French West Indies and French Guiana (Their ancestors were transported from India for manual labor) 420,200
 Australia 390,894
 Singapore 351,700
 Bahrain 350,000
 Guyana 320,200
 Fiji 313,798
 Netherlands 215,000
 Thailand 150,000
 Suriname 140,300
 Indonesia 125,000
 Italy 120,000
 Yemen 111,000
 New Zealand 160,000
 Kenya 100,000
 Tanzania 92,000
Indian languages · Local languages · English (for NRIs)
Hinduism · Islam · Christianity · Sikhism · Jainism · Buddhism · Zoroastrianism · Judaism · Atheism · Agnosticism
Related ethnic groups
Indian people

A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a citizen of India who holds an Indian passport and has temporarily emigrated to another country for six months or more for employment, residence, education or any other purpose.

A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is a person of Indian origin or ancestry but who is not a citizen of India and is the citizen of another country. A PIO might have been a citizen of India and subsequently taken the citizenship of another country, or have ancestors born in India or other states.

Other terms with vaguely the same meaning are overseas Indian and expatriate Indian. In common usage, this often includes Indian-born individuals (and also people of other nations with Indian ancestry) who have taken the citizenship of other countries.

According to a survey conducted by UN department of economic and social affairs, India has the largest diaspora population in the world.


  • 1 Legal definitions
    • 1.1 Non-Resident Indian (NRI)
    • 1.2 Person of Indian Origin (PIO)
  • 2 Indian Emigration
    • 2.1 Historical
    • 2.2 Modern times
    • 2.3 After independence
  • 3 PIOs today
    • 3.1 Overseas Indians’ Day
    • 3.2 Africa
      • 3.2.1 South East Africa
      • 3.2.2 Madagascar
      • 3.2.3 Mauritius
      • 3.2.4 Réunion
      • 3.2.5 South Africa
    • 3.3 Europe
      • 3.3.1 United Kingdom
      • 3.3.2 Netherlands and Suriname
    • 3.4 Americas
      • 3.4.1 United States of America
      • 3.4.2 Canada
      • 3.4.3 Caribbean
    • 3.5 South America
    • 3.6 Asia
      • 3.6.1 Nepal
      • 3.6.2 Indonesia
      • 3.6.3 Japan
      • 3.6.4 Malaysia
      • 3.6.5 Philippines
      • 3.6.6 Singapore
    • 3.7 West Asia
      • 3.7.1 Israel
    • 3.8 Oceania
      • 3.8.1 Australia
      • 3.8.2 New Zealand
      • 3.8.3 Fiji
  • 4 Statistics

Legal definitions

Non-Resident Indian (NRI)

Strictly speaking, the term non-resident refers only to the tax status of a person who, as per section 6 of the Income-tax Act of 1961, has not resided in India for a specified period for the purposes of the Income Tax Act. The rates of income tax are different for persons who are “resident in India” and for NRIs. For the purposes of the Income Tax Act, “residence in India” requires stay in India of at least 182 days in a calendar year or 365 days spread out over four consecutive years. According to the act, any Indian citizen who does not meet the criteria as a “resident of India” is a non-resident of India and is treated as NRI for paying income tax.

Person of Indian Origin (PIO)

This section is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (February 2015)

Government of India considers anyone of Indian origin up to four generations removed to be a PIO, with the exception of those who were ever nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.[15][16] The prohibited list periodically includes China and Iran as well. The government issues a PIO Card to a PIO after verification of his or her origin or ancestry and this card entitles a PIO to enter India without a visa. The spouse of a PIO can also be issued a PIO card though the spouse might not be a PIO. This latter category includes foreign spouses of Indian nationals, regardless of ethnic origin, so long as they were not born in, or ever nationals of, the aforementioned prohibited countries. PIO Cards exempt holders from many restrictions that apply to foreign nationals, such as visa and work permit requirements, along with certain other economic limitations.

Indian Emigration


Towards Southeast

Another major emigration from the subcontinent was to Southeast Asia. There is possibility that the first wave of Indians migration towards Southeast Asia happened when the Emperor Ashoka invasion towards Kalinga and Samudragupta’s expedition towards the South. It followed by early interaction of Indian traders and, after mid-first millennium CE, by some import of members of the Brahmin social caste. This resulted in the establishment of the so-called Indianised kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The Cholas, who were known for their naval power, conquered Sumatra and Malay Peninsula. The influence of Indian culture is still strongly felt in Southeast Asia, for example with the royal Brahmins of Thailand (Rajkru), or especially in Bali (in Indonesia). In such cases, it is not reasonable to apply the label ‘PIO’ to the descendants of emigrants from several centuries back. Intermixture has been so great as to negate the value of such nomenclature in this context.

Another early diaspora, of which little is known about was a reported Indian “Shendu” community that was recorded when Yunnan was annexed by the Han Dynasty in the 1st century by the Chinese authorities.

Indian trader’s family in Bagamoyo, German East Africa, around 1906/18.

The modern Indian merchant diaspora in Central Asia and Arabia emerged in the mid-16th century and remained active for over four centuries. Astrakhan at the mouth of the Volga was the first place in Tsardom of Russia where an Indian merchant colony was established as early as the 1610s. Russian chroniclers reported the presence of Hindu traders in Moscow and St Petersburg in the 18th century.

Individuals of Indian origin have achieved a high demographic profile in metropolitan areas worldwide, including India Square (Little Bombay) in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere and one of at least 24 enclaves characterised as a Little India which have emerged within the New York City Metropolitan Area, with the largest metropolitan Indian population outside Asia, as large-scale immigration from India continues into New York.

Towards West

For over 5000 years The glory of Kerala spice attracted traders from many countries to Kerala, this also lead to intermarriages and migration.

The most significant historical emigration from India was that of the Romani people, traditionally known by the term “Gypsies”. Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Romani originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards the northwest no earlier than the 11th century. The Romani are generally believed to have originated in central India, possibly in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to northwest India (the Punjab region) around 250 BCE.

In the centuries spent here, there may have been close interaction with such established groups as the Rajputs and the Jats. Their subsequent westward migration, possibly in waves, is believed to have occurred between 500 CE and 1000 CE. Contemporary populations sometimes suggested as sharing a close relationship to the Romani are the Dom people of Central Asia and the Banjara of India.

Modern times

During the 19th century and until the end of the British Raj, much of the migration that occurred was of poor workers (Mostly Biharis and other Bhojpuri speaking people from the Bhojpur district of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) to other British colonies under the indenture system. The major destinations, in chronological order, were Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana, the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, East Africa, and South Africa.x

Gujarati and Sindhi merchants and traders settled in the Arabian Peninsula, Aden, Oman, Bahrain, Dubai, South Africa and East African countries, most of which were ruled by the British. Indian Rupee was the legal currency in many countries of Arabian peninsula. Maneesh Media has compiled a book featuring Gujarati Diaspora named Jewels of Gujarat: Leading Global Gujarati Personalities

After independence

After the 1970s oil boom in the Middle East, numerous Indians emigrated to work in the Gulf countries. With modern transportation and expectations, this was on a contractual basis rather than permanent as in the 19th century cases. These Gulf countries have a common policy of not naturalising non-Arabs, even if they are born there. Some gulf nations give citizenship if the family has lived there for many generations or years. Two examples are Kuwait and UAE.

Indians migrated in large numbers to the United States to assume professional occupations as well as business opportunities beginning in the 1960s. A second wave of Indian immigrants has been attracted to the US since the 1990s with the advent of the Information Technology (IT) boom and the concomitantly robust American economy. Indians are also attending universities in the United States and elsewhere in large numbers; as per the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of Indian students abroad tripled from 51,000 in 1999 to over 1,53,000 in 2007, making India second after China among the world’s largest sending countries for tertiary students.

PIOs today

Overseas Indians’ Day

Since 2003, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Overseas Indians’ Day) sponsored by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, is being celebrated on 9 January each year in India, to “mark the contribution see of Overseas Indian community in the development of India”. The day commemorates the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi in India from South Africa, and during a three-day convention held around the day, a forum for issues concerning the Indian diaspora is held and the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are given away. As of January 2006, The Indian government has introduced the “Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)” scheme to allow a limited form of dual citizenship to Indians, NRIs, and PIOs for the first time since independence in 1947. The PIO Card scheme is expected to be phased out in coming years in favour of the OCI programme.



South East Africa

Main article: Indian Diaspora in South East Africa

Sir Ben Kingsley of Indo-Kenyan descent is notable Oscar winning actor.

Freddie Mercury, lead singer and co-founder of the immensely successful rock band Queen, was of Parsi descent born in Kenya.

Before the larger wave of migration during the British colonial era, a significant group of South Asians, especially from the west coast (Sindh, Surat, Konkan, Malabar and Lanka) regularly travelled to South East Africa, especially Zanzibar. It is believed that they travelled in Arab dhows, Maratha Navy ships (under Kanhoji Angre), and possibly Chinese junks and Portuguese vessels. Some of these people settled in South East Africa and later spread to places like present day Uganda, and Mozambique. Later they mingled with the much larger wave of South Asians who came with the British.

Indian migration to the modern countries of Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, South Africa, and Tanzania started nearly a century ago when these parts of the continent were under British and French colonial rule. Most of these migrants were of Gujarati or Punjabi origin. There are almost 30 lakh Indians living in South-East Africa. Indian-led businesses were (or are) the backbone of the economies of these countries. These ranged in the past from small rural grocery stores to sugar mills. In addition, Indian professionals, such as doctors, teachers, engineers, also played an important part in the development of these countries.


Main article: Indians in Madagascar

Indians in Madagascar are descended mostly from traders who arrived in 19th century looking for better opportunities. The majority of them came from the Indian west coast state of Gujarat and were known as Karana (Muslim) and Bania (Hindu). The majority speak Gujarati, though some other Indian languages are spoken. Nowadays the younger generations speak at least three languages including, French or English, Gujarati and Malagasy. A large number of Indians are highly educated in Madagascar, particularly the younger generation, who try to contribute their knowledge to the development of Madagascar.


Main article: Indo-Mauritian

Outside of India itself, Mauritius is the only country where people of Indian origin form the vast majority (not including Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago where Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians have equal populations, or Fiji where the Indo-Fijians once formed the majority but not today). The people are known as Indo-Mauritians, and form about 65.8% of the population. The majority of them are Hindu (73.7%) and a significant group are Muslims (26.3%). There are also some Bahá’ís and Sikhs, but the Bahá’ís and Sikh populations are relatively small ones. The mother tongue of Indo-Mauritians is Creole, as well as French and English in general fields, however various Indian languages are still spoken, especially Bhojpuri, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Hindi, and Urdu are used in religious activities. Mauritius hosts the Aapravasi Ghat, the only site of UNESCO in the world, to pay homage to the memory of indenture.

Mauritius is the only Hindu majority (48.5%) country of Africa according to the 2011 census.

The Indian Festivals of Maha Shivaratree, Diwali, Thaipoosam Cavadee, Ganesh Chaturthee and Ougadi are all National Holidays as well as the Annual Commemoration of the Arrival of Indian Indentured Labourers in Mauritius.


Main articles: Réunionnais of Indian origin and Malbars

Indians make up a quarter of Réunion’s population. Most originally came as indentured workers from Tamil Nadu.

South Africa

Main articles: Indian South Africans and Tamil South Africans

Navanethem Pillay, an Indian South African descent who served as the U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Most Asians in South Africa are descended from indentured Indian labourers who were brought by the British from India in the 19th century, mostly to work in the sugar cane plantations of what is now the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). A minority are descended from Indian traders who migrated to South Africa at around the same time, many from Gujarat. The city of Durban has the highest number of Asians in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi worked as a lawyer in the city in the early 1900s. South Africa in fact has the highest number of people of Indian descent outside of India in the world, i.e. born in South Africa and not migrant, compared to the US. Most of them are fourth to fifth generation descent. Most Indian South Africans do not speak the Indian languages which were ‘lost’ over the generations, although they do enjoy watching Indian movies and listening to Indian music.


For the earlier wave of immigration of people from the Indian subcontinent into Europe and North-Africa around 1000 CE, commonly called Gypsies, see Romani people.

United Kingdom

Main articles: British Indian and Indian community of London

Madhur Jaffrey is notable Indian-born British Indian actress, food and travel writer, and television personality.

The Indian emigrant community in the United Kingdom is now in its third generation. Indians in the UK are the largest community outside of Asia proportionally, and the second largest in terms of population, only surpassed by the United States, and closely followed by Canada. The first wave of Indians in the United Kingdom worked as manual labourers and were not respected within society. However, this has changed considerably. Third and fourth generation immigrants are on the whole proving to be very successful, especially in the fields of law, business and medicine.

Indian culture has been constantly referenced within the wider British culture, at first as an “exotic” influence in films like My Beautiful Laundrette, but now increasingly as a familiar feature in films like Bend It Like Beckham.

The United Kingdom Census 2011 recorded 1,451,862 people of Indian ethnicity resident in the UK (not including those who categorised themselves as of mixed ethnicity). The main ethnic groups are Kannadigas, Marwaris, Tamils, Panjabis, Gujaratis, Bengalis and Anglo-Indians. Hindus comprise 45% of the British Indian population, Sikhs 29%, Muslims 13%, Christians nearly 5%, with the remainder made up of Jains (15,000), Parsis (Zoroastrians), and BuddhistsMost Indians in the United Kingdom have settled in London, the Midlands, the North West, Yorkshire and the South East. Their presence in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other regions is not as large. The first generation of immigrants were to be found in the east-end of London which, traditionally was the poorest area in London. However, due to gentrification, this is no longer the case.

There are 2,360,000 people currently speaking Indian languages in the United Kingdom. Punjabi is now the second most widely spoken language in the United Kingdom, and the most frequently spoken language among school pupils who do not have English as a first language

Netherlands and Suriname

There are around 1.2 lakh people of Indian origin in the Netherlands, 90% of whom migrated from the former Dutch colony of Suriname, where their forefathers were brought from India to work on the plantations after slavery was abolished in 1863 in the Dutch colonies.

Indo-Surinamese are nationals of Suriname of Indian or other South Asian ancestry. After the Dutch government signed a treaty with the United Kingdom on the recruitment of contract workers, Indians began migrating to Suriname in 1873 from what was then British India as indentured labourers, many from the modern-day Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and the surrounding regions. Just before and just after the independence of Suriname on 25 November 1975 many Indo-Surinamese emigrated to the Netherlands.

During the heyday of the British Raj/Empire, many people from India were sent to other British colonies for work. After the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colony of Suriname, the Dutch were allowed by the British Raj to recruit labourers in certain parts of the North-Indian United Provinces. One of the biggest temple compound in The Hague under is today under construction. This will be Europe biggest and is also uniquely with three stream: Iskon (Sri Krisna Mandir, Arya Samadj and Sikh temple.


The New York City Metropolitan Area, including Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau County in New York, and Jersey City, Edison, Plainsboro, Bergen County, and Parsippany in New Jersey, is home to by far the largest Indian population in the United States, estimated at 679,173 as of 2014.

United States of America

Main article: Indian American

See also: Indians in the New York City metropolitan region

Kalpana Chawla is notable first Indian American astronaut.

Indian immigration to North America started as early as the 1890s. A Sikh-Canadian community has existed in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, for over 100 years. Emigration to the US also started in the late 19th and early 20th century, when Sikhs arriving in Vancouver found that the fact that they were subjects of the British Empire did not mean anything in Canada itself, and they were blatantly discriminated against. Some of these pioneers entered the US or landed in Seattle and San Francisco as the ships that carried them from Asia often stopped at these ports. Most of these immigrants were Sikhs from the Punjab region. They were referred to in the US as Hindus (due to the idea that everyone from the around and beyond the Indus river was a Hindu and also for want of a term that distinguished these immigrants from Native Americans who are called Indians).

Asian women were restricted from immigrating, because the US government passed laws in 1917 at the behest of California and other states in the west, which had experienced a large influx of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian immigrants during and after the gold rush. As a result, many of the South Asian men in California married Mexican women. A fair number of these families settled down in the Central Valley in California as farmers, and continue to this day. These early immigrants were denied voting rights, family re-unification and citizenship. In 1923 the Supreme Court of the United States, in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, ruled that people from India (at the time, British India, e.g. South Asians) were ineligible for citizenship. Bhagat Singh Thind was a Sikh from India who settled in Oregon; he had earlier applied for citizenship and was rejected in Oregon Thind became a citizen a few years later in New York.

After World War II, US immigration policy changed to allow family re-unification for people of non-white origin after being banned for almost half a century. In addition, Asians were allowed to become citizens and to vote. A large number of the men who arrived before the 1940s were finally able to bring their families to the US; most of them in this earlier era settled in California and other west coast states.

Another wave of Indian immigrants entered the US after independence of India. A large proportion of them were Sikhs joining their family members under the new more (though not completely) colour-blind immigration laws, then Malayali immigrants from Middle East, Kerala etc. and professionals or students that came from all over India. The Cold War created a need for engineers in the defence and aerospace industries, some of whom came from India. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Marwaris, Gujarati, Kannadigas, Telugu and Tamil people settled in the US. The most recent and probably the largest wave of immigration to date occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s during the internet boom. As a result, Indians in the US are now one of the largest among the groups of immigrants with an estimated population of about 31.8 lakh or ~1.0% of the US population according to American Community Survey of 2010 data. The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term Asian Indian to avoid confusion with the indigenous peoples of the Americas commonly referred to as American Indians.

Percent of population claiming Asian Indian ethnicity by state in 2010.

In contrast to the earliest groups of Indians who entered the US workforce as taxi drivers, labourers, farmers or small business owners, the later arrivals often came as professionals or completed graduate study here and moved into the professions. They have become very successful financially thanks to the hi-tech industry, and are thus probably the most well-off community of immigrants. They are well represented in all walks of life, but particularly so in academia, information technology and medicine. There were over 4,000 PIO professors and 84,000 Indian-born students in American universities in 2007-08. The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin has a membership of 35,000. In 2000, Fortune magazine estimated the wealth generated by Indian Silicon Valley entrepreneurs at around $250 billion.

The New York City Metropolitan Area, including Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau County in New York, and Jersey City, Edison, Plainsboro, Bergen County, and Parsippany in New Jersey, is home to by far the largest Indian population in the United States, estimated at 679,173 as of 2014. Though the Indian diaspora in the US is largely concentrated in metropolitan areas such as New York City (enumerating 679,173 Indian Americans as of the 2014 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, composing by far the largest Asian Indian population of any metropolitan area in the United States); Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, almost every metropolitan area in the US has a community of Indians.


Main article: Indo-Canadian

Harjit Sajjan, is an Indian Canadian politician and former Lieutenant Colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces. He is the

Canada’s Lilly Singh, known by her YouTube username “Superwoman”, is by far the most popular YouTube personality of Indian origin.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 there were 1,260,000 people who classified themselves as being of Indian origin, including terms of “East Indian”, South Asian or Indo-Canadian. In 2001, Sikhs represented 34%, Hindus 27%, Muslims 17% and Christians 16% (7% Protestant/Evangelical, 9% Catholic) of the total people of Indian origin in Canada Relatively few people of Indian origin have no religious affiliation.

The first known Indian settlers in Canada were Indian Army soldiers who had passed through Canada in 1897 on their way back home from attending Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in London, England. Some are believed to have remained in British Columbia and others returned there later. Punjabi Indians were attracted to the possibilities for farming and forestry. They were mainly male Sikhs who were seeking work opportunities. Indo-Caribbeans, descendants of the Indian indentured workers who had gone to the Caribbean since 1838, made an early appearance in Canada with the arrival of the Trinidadian medical student Kenneth Mahabir and the Demerara (now Guyana) clerk M N Santoo, both in 1908.

The first Indian immigrants in British Columbia allegedly faced widespread racism from the local white Canadians. Race riots targeted these immigrants, as well as new Chinese immigrants. Most decided to return to India, while a few stayed behind. The Canadian government prevented these men from bringing their wives and children until 1919, another reason why many of them chose to leave. Quotas were established to prevent many Indians from moving to Canada in the early 20th century. These quotas allowed fewer than 100 people from India a year until 1957, when the number was increased to 300. In 1967, all quotas were scrapped. Immigration was then based on a point system, thus allowing many more Indians to enter. Since this open-door policy was adopted, Indians continue to come in large numbers, and roughly 25,000-30,000 arrive each year (which now makes Indians the second highest group immigrating to Canada each year, after the Chinese).

Most Indians choose to immigrate to larger urban centres like Toronto, and Vancouver, where more than 70% live. Smaller communities are also growing in Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal. A place called Little India exists in Vancouver and a section of Gerrard Street (Toronto) in Toronto as well. Indians in Vancouver mainly live in the suburb of Surrey, or nearby Abbotsford but are also found in other parts of Vancouver. The vast majority of Vancouver Indians are of Sikh origin and have taken significant roles in politics and other professions, with several Supreme Court justices, three Attorneys General and one provincial premier hailing from the community. Both Gurmant Grewal and his wife Nina Grewal were the first married couple in Canada to be concurrently elected as Member of Parliament in 2004. Most read newspaper in the Indian community is The Asian Star and The Punjabi Star based in Vancouver started by an immigrant from Mumbai-Shamir Doshi.

The Greater Toronto Area contains the second largest population of Indian descent in North America, enumerating 5,72,250 residents of Indian origin as of 2011, surpassed only by the 5,92,888 estimate by the 2011 American Community Survey (and 659,784 in 2013) for the New York City Combined Statistical Area. Note, however, that the Toronto count (but not the New York count) includes individuals of West Indian/Indo-Caribbean descent. Compared to the Vancouver area, Toronto’s Indian community is much more linguistically and religiously diverse with large communities of Gujaratis, Malayalis, and Tamils, as well as more Indians who are Hindu, Christian and Muslim than Vancouver. From Toronto, Indian air carrier Jet Airways offers daily flights to Delhi via Brussels, while Canadian carrier Air Canada operates non-stop flights to Delhi.


Main article: Indo-Caribbean

Waheed Alli, Baron Alli is multimillionaire media entrepreneur and politician of Indo-Caribbean heritage

From 1838 to 1917, over half a million Indians from the former British Raj or British India, were brought to the British West Indies as indentured servants to address the demand for labour following the abolition of slavery. The first two shiploads arrived in British Guiana (now Guyana) on 5 May 1838.

The majority of the Indians living in the English-speaking Caribbean migrated from eastern Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar, while those brought to Guadeloupe and Martinique were mostly from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. A minority emigrated from other parts of South Asia, including present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. Other Indo-Caribbean people descend from later migrants, including Indian doctors, Gujarati businessmen and migrants from Kenya and Uganda. A vague community of modern-day immigrants from India is to be found on Saint-Martin / Sint Maarten and other islands with duty-free commercial capabilities, where they are active in business.

Indo-Caribbean’s are the largest ethnic group in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. They are the second largest group in Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and other countries. There are small populations of them in Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, French Guiana, Grenada, Panama, Guatemala, St Lucia, Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the Netherlands Antilles.

The indentured Indians and their descendants have actively contributed to the evolution of their adopted lands in spite of many difficulties. Jamaica has always celebrated the arrival of the East Indians in Old Harbour Bay on 13 May. In 2003, Martinique celebrated the 150th anniversary of Indian arrival. Guadeloupe did the same in 2004. These celebrations were not the fact of just the Indian minority but the official recognition by the French and local authorities of their integration and their wide-scale contribution in various fields from agriculture to education and politics, and to the diversification of the Creole culture. Thus the noted participation of the whole multi-ethnic population of the two islands in these events.

South America

The migrations of Indians began when the British had Guinea as a colony, primarily in the same time period Indians started migrating to other British colonies. Later on the Dutch colonists had a trade off with the “British Raj” to import Indian’s into one of their biggest colonies, Suriname. The French has also imported Indians, although with small numbers. The latest pre-world war migration has taken place since 1873 in Suriname and was only stopped due to the first world war 1914. See more under Netherlands and Suriname.



In 2006, the newly formed Nepal’s parliament passed the controversial citizenship act Nepal citizenship law that allowed nearly 20 lakh Indian people especially living in Madhesh of Nepal to acquire Nepalese citizenship and Nepalese identity via naturalisation. There are about 20 lakh Nepalese people of Indian origin assembled into already existing Madhesi people of indigenous Nepalese origin who were living in Madhesh of Nepal. The total number of Indian citizens temporarily living and working in Nepal is estimated to be somewhere between 20 lakh to 40 lakh. Nepal is also the 7th largest source of remittance to India, with remittance from Nepal to India amounting to nearly $3.5 billion in the 2013/2014.


Main articles: Indian Indonesian and Tamil Indonesian

Sri Prakash Lohia, Founder of Indorama Corporation and 6th Richest person in Indonesia according to Forbes

Manoj Punjabi is an Indian Indonesian film and television producer and owner of the biggest production house in Indonesia.

Though there are no official figures, it is estimated that there are around 1.25 lakh Indian living in Indonesia and 25,000 PIOs/NRIs living in Indonesia of which the Indian expatriate community registered with the Embassy and Consulate in Medan numbers around 5,000-7,000 peoples. Mostly are from Tamil descendants.

Indians have been living in Indonesia for centuries from the time of the Srivijaya and Majapahit Empire both of which were Hindu and heavily influenced by the subcontinent. Indians were later brought to Indonesia by the Dutch in the 19th century as indentured labourers to work on plantations located around Medan in Sumatra. While the majority of these came from South India, a significant number also came from the north India. The Medan Indians included Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. They have now been in Indonesia for over four generations and hold Indonesian passports. While local statistics continue to suggest that there are some 40,000 PIOs in Sumatra, the vast majority are now completely assimilated in Indonesian society, though some elements of the Tamil, Sikh and Bihari communities still maintain their cultural traditions.

The Indian diaspora also includes several thousand Sindhi families who constitute the second wave of Indian immigrants who made Indonesia their home in the first half of the 20th century. The Sindhi community is mainly engaged in trading and commerce.

Among these communities, Tamils and to a lesser extent Sikhs were primarily engaged in agriculture while Sindhis and Punjabis mainly established themselves in textile trade and sports business.

The inflow of major Indian investments in Indonesia starting in the late 1970s drew a fresh wave of Indian investors and managers to this country. This group of entrepreneurs and business professionals has further expanded over the past two decades and now includes engineers, consultants, chartered accountants, bankers and other professionals.

The Indian community is very well regarded in Indonesia, is generally prosperous and includes individuals holding senior positions in local and multinational companies.

Due to economic factors, most traders and businessmen among PIOs have over past decades moved to Jakarta from outlying areas such as Medan and Surabaya. Almost half the Indian Community in Indonesia is now Jakarta-based; it is estimated that the population of Jakarta’s Indian community is about 19,000. There are six main social or professional associations in Jakarta’s Indian PIO/NRI community. Gandhi Seva Loka (formerly known as Bombay Merchants Association) is a charitable institution run by the Sindhi community and is engaged mainly in educational and social activities. The India Club is a social organisation of PIO/NRI professionals. An Indian Women’s Association brings together PIO/NRI spouses and undertakes charitable activities. There is a Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee in Jakarta and Sindhis as well as Sikhs are associated with Gurudwara activities The Economic Association of Indonesia and India (ECAII) brings together leading entrepreneurs from the Indian community with the objective of promoting bilateral economic relations, but has been largely inactive. Finally, there is the Indonesian Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).


Main article: Indians in Japan

Indians in Japan consist of migrants from India to Japan and their descendants. As of December 2008, there were 22,335 Indian nationals living in Japan. Roughly 60% consist of expatriate IT professionals and their families.


Main articles: Indian Malaysian, List of Malaysian Indians, Chitty and Jawi Peranakan

Current World No. 1 of women’s squash, Malaysia’s Nicol David, is of Chindian descent.

Malaysia has one of the world’s largest overseas Indian and overseas Chinese populations. Most Indians migrated to Malaysia as plantation labourers under British rule. They are a significant minority ethnic group, making up 8% of the Malaysian population. Most of these people are Tamils but Malayalam, Telugu, Punjabi and Gujarati- speaking people are also present. They have retained their languages and religion — 90% of ethnic Indians in Malaysia identify as Hindus. A significant number of the population are Sikhs and the rest are Christians and Muslims.

There is also a small community of Indian origin, the Chitty, who are the descendants of Tamil traders who had emigrated before 1500 CE, and Chinese and Malay locals. Considering themselves Tamil, speaking Malay, and practicing Hinduism, the Chittys number about 2,000 today.


Main articles: Indian settlement in the Philippines and List of India-related topics in Philippines

India and Philippines have historic ties going back over 3000 years and there are over 1.5 lakh people of Indian origin in Philippines

Indian Filipinos are Philippine citizens of Indian descent.

Iron Age finds in the Philippines also point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu in South India and the Philippines Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries BCE. The influence of Culture of India on Culture of the Philippines intensified from the 2nd through the late 14th centuries CE.

Indians from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India also came with the British expedition against Manila that took the city from the Spaniards and occupied Manila and the area around Caintâ and Morong (which is now Rizal province) between 1762 and 1763. Many of them declined to leave, mutinied, and married local Tagalog women, which explains why many Filipinos around Caintâ, Rizal are Indian descendants.


Main article: Indian Singaporeans

  1. Sundramoorthy is a former Singapore international footballer and currently the head coach of S.League club Tampines Rovers.

Indian Singaporeans—defined as persons of South Asian paternal ancestry—form 10% of the country’s citizens and permanent residents, making them Singapore’s third largest ethnic group. Among cities, Singapore has one of the largest overseas Indian populations.

Although contact with ancient India left a deep cultural impact on Singapore’s indigenous Malay society, the mass migration of ethnic Indians to the island only began with the founding of modern Singapore by the British in 1819. Initially, the Indian population was transient, mainly comprising young men who came as workers, soldiers and convicts. By the mid-20th century, a settled community had emerged, with a more balanced gender ratio and a better spread of age groups. Tamil is one among the four official languages of Singapore alongside English, Chinese and Malay.

Singapore’s Indian population is notable for its class stratification, with disproportionately large elite and lower income groups. This long-standing problem has grown more visible since the 1990s with an influx of both well-educated and unskilled migrants from India, and as part of growing income inequality in Singapore. Indians earn higher incomes than Malays, the other major minority group. Indians are also significantly more likely to hold university degrees than these groups. However, the mainly locally born Indian students in public primary and secondary schools under-perform the national average at major examinations.

Singapore Indians are linguistically and religiously diverse, with ethnic Tamils and nominal Hindus forming small majorities. Indian culture has endured and evolved over almost 200 years. By the mid to late 20th century, it had become somewhat distinct from contemporary South Asian cultures, even as Indian elements became diffused within a broader Singaporean culture. Since the 1990s, new Indian immigrants have increased the size and complexity of the local Indian population. Together with modern communications like cable television and the internet, this has connected Singapore with an emerging global Indian culture.

Prominent Indian individuals have long made a mark in Singapore as leaders of various fields in national life. Indians are also collectively well represented, and sometimes over-represented, in areas such as politics, education, diplomacy and the law. There is also a small community of Indian origin, the Chitty, who are the descendants of Tamil traders who had emigrated before 1500 CE, and Chinese and Malay locals. Considering themselves Tamil, speaking Malay, and practicing Hinduism, the Chittys number about 2,000 today. Also there are many Marwaris in Singapore doing business successfully.

West Asia

There is a huge population of NRIs in the West Asia, most coming from Kerala and Hyderabad. They work as engineers, doctors, lawyers, labourers and for clerical jobs. Unlike in Europe and Americas, most of the countries in the West Asia do not provide citizenship or permanent residency to these Indians, however long they might live there. The Gulf region has provided incomes many times over for the same type of job in India and has geographical proximity to India, and these incomes are free of taxation. The NRIs make up a good proportion of the working class in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). NRI population in these GCC countries is estimated to be around 60 lakh (2007), of which over 15 lakh stay in the UAE. In 2005, about 40% of the population in the United Arab Emirates was of Indian descent. Majority of them originate from Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa. Similarly, Indians are the single largest nationality in Qatar, representing around 25% of the total population as of 2014. NRI population tends to save and remit considerable amount to their dependents in India. It is estimated such remittances may be over USD 10 billion per annum (including remittances by formal and informal channels in 2007-2008). Since these people travel to their homes often twice or thrice a year, they are very close to the Indian culture. There are TV soaps aimed at them, especially Tiarts for Goans living in UAE also there are shows that happen quite often through the community groups in the UAE. Many NRIs live for a couple of months in the year in India, often during the holiday periods. They often continue their banking relationships & telecom relationships in India. (Source: Research by S Kadwe, 2009).


Main articles: Indians in Israel, Bene Israel and Bnei Menashe

The Bene Israel (Hebrew: “Sons of Israel”, Marathi:बेने इस्राएल) are a group of Jews who migrated in the 19th century from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby Indian cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. In the second half of the 20th century, most of them emigrated to Israel, where they now number about 60,000. The native language of the Bene Israel is Judæo-Marathi, a form of Marathi.

The Jews of Cochin, in Kerala (Cochin Jews), were another prominent community that migrated to Israel after its creation. They were granted protection by the King of the Princely State of Cochin. The earliest Jews in this region, as per local tradition, date to as early as 379 CE. The community was a mix of native Jews (called ‘Black Jews’), and European Jews (called ‘White Jews’) who had emigrated to Cochin after the successive European conquests of Cochin. The Jewish community of Cochin spoke a variant of Malayalam, called Judeo-Malayalam. The community, after the creation of Israel, saw a mass exodus from Cochin, and is presently facing extinction.

Another group of Indians to arrive in Israel belong to the Bnei Menashe (“Children of Menasseh”, Hebrew) a group of more than 9,000 people from India’s North-Eastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram, who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and of whom about 1,700 now live in Israel (some of them in Israeli settlements on the West Bank). Linguistically, Bnei Menashe are Tibeto-Burmans and belong to the Mizo, Kuki and Chin peoples (the terms are virtually interchangeable). The move to convert them to Judaism and bring them to Israel is politically controversial in both India and Israel.



Main article: Indian Australian

Aishveryaa Nidhi is an Indian Australian actor, director, writer, and theatre personality.

In 2009, it was estimated that there were over 390,894 Australians of Indian origin, of whom 308,542 were born in India. Before roads and road transport were developed, many Indians had come to Australia to run camel trains. They would transport goods and mail via camel in the desert. Some of the earliest Punjabi arrivals in Australia included Kareem Bux who came as a hawker to Bendigo in 1893, Sardar Beer Singh Johal who came in 1895 and Sardar Narain Singh Heyer who arrived in 1898. Many Punjabis took part in the rush for gold on the Victorian fields.

Indians also entered Australia in the first half of the 20th century when both Australia and India were still British colonies. Indian Sikhs came to work on the banana plantations in Southern Queensland. Today a large number of them live in the town of Woolgoolga (a town lying roughly halfway between Sydney and Brisbane). Some of these Indians, the descendants of Sikh plantation workers, now own banana farms in the area. There are two Sikh temples in Woolgoolga. One of which even has a museum dedicated to Sikhism. A large number of Britons and Anglo-Indians born in India migrated to Australia after 1947. These British citizens decided to settle in Australia in large numbers but are still counted as ‘Indian’ Nationals in the census. The third wave of Indians entered the country in the 1980s. After the policy was abolished many Indian teachers and doctors settled in Australia. Another big influx began with the IT revolution. Large numbers of Indian IT professionals arrived in Australia from 1976 onwards. After successive military coups in Fiji of 1987 and 2000 a significant number of Fijian-Indians migrated to Australia as such there is a large Fijian-Indian population in Australia. Fijian-Indians have significantly changed the character of the Indian community in Australia. While most earlier Indian migration was by educated professionals, the Fijian-Indian community was also largely by professionals but also brought many small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The current wave of Indian migration is that of engineers, toolmakers, Gujarati business families from East Africa and relatives of settled Indians. Starved of government funding, Australian education institutes are recruiting full fee paying overseas students. Many universities have permanent representatives stationed in India and other Asian countries. Their efforts have been rewarded and a new influx of Indian students entering Australia. The total number of student visas granted to Indian students for 2006-2007 were 34,136; a significant rise from 2002 to 2003 when 7,603 student visa’s were granted Indian students. As artistic director of Abhinay School of Performing Arts, Aishveryaa Nidhi has been actively trying to connect India with Australia through Art & Culture. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 87% of Indians residing in Australia are aged under 50 and over 83% of the population are proficient in English.

New Zealand

Main category: New Zealand people of Indian descent

The former Governor General of New Zealand, Anand Satyanand, is of Indian descent.

Indians began to arrive in New Zealand in the late eighteenth century, mostly as crews on British ships. A small number deserted; the earliest known Indian resident of New Zealand was living with a Māori wife in the Bay of Islands in 1815. Numbers slowly increased through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, despite a law change in 1899 which was designed to keep out people who were not of ‘British birth and parentage’. As in many other countries, Indians in New Zealand dispersed throughout the country and had a high rate of small business ownership, particularly fruit and vegetable shops and convenience stores. At this stage most Indian New Zealanders originated from Gujarat. Changes in immigration policy in the 1980s allowed many more Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis into the country, and the 1987 and 2000 military coups in Fiji caused a large increase in the number of Fijian Indians coming to New Zealand. Notable Indian New Zealanders include former Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner, cricketers Dipak Patel and Jeetan Patel, singer Aaradhna, and former Governor General Anand Satyanand.


Main articles: Indians in Fiji and Girmityas

Indo-Fijians are Fijians whose ancestors came from India and various other parts of South Asia. They number 3,13,798 (37.6%) (2007 census) out of a total of 8,27,900 people living in Fiji. They are mostly descended from indentured labourers, girmitiyas or girmit, brought to the islands by Fiji’s British colonial rulers between 1879 and 1916 to work on Fiji’s sugar cane plantations. Music has featured prominently in Indo-Fijian culture, with a distinctive genre emerging in the first decades of the 20th century that some claim influenced early jazz musicians. The Indo-Fijians have fought for equal rights, although with only limited success. Many have left Fiji in search of better living conditions and social justice and this exodus has gained pace with the series of coups starting in the late 1980s.


Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian Population Percentage of Population
Africa 2,800,000+
 South Africa Indian South Africans 1,300,000 2.7%
 Mauritius Indo-Mauritian 855,000 68.3%
 Réunion (France) Réunionnais of Indian origin (Malbars) 220,000 28%
 Kenya Indians in Kenya 100,000 0.3%
 Tanzania Indians in Tanzania 90,000 0.2%
 Uganda Indians in Uganda 90,000 0.3%
 Madagascar Indians in Madagascar 28,000 0.15%
 Nigeria 25,000 0.02%
 Mozambique Indians in Mozambique 21,000 0.1%
 Libya 20,000 0.34%
 Zimbabwe Indians in Zimbabwe 16,000 0.1%
 Botswana Indians in Botswana 9,000 0.5%
 Zambia Indians in Zambia 6,000 0.05%
 Congo DR 6,000 0.04%
 Seychelles Indo-Seychellois 5,000 6.3%
 Ghana Ghanaian Indian 3,800 0.017%
 Eritrea 1,753 0.04%
 Côte d’Ivoire 300 0.0017%
 Namibia 110 0.005%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Asia 10,840,000+
   Nepal Nepalese people of Indian ancestry 4,000,000 14.7%
 Malaysia Malaysian Indian (Chitty · Tamils) 2,400,000 8.7%
 Myanmar Burmese Indians · Anglo-Indian 1,100,000 2.0%
 Sri Lanka Indians in Sri Lanka (Tamils) 850,000 4.4%
 Singapore Indians in Singapore 351,700 9.1%
 Indonesia Indian Indonesians (Mardijker · Tamils) 120,000 0.05%
 China Indians in China (Hong Kong) Mainland China: 125,000
Hong Kong: 20,444
 Thailand Indians in Thailand 65,000 0.1%
 Philippines Indian settlement in the Philippines 150,000 0.04%
 Japan Indians in Japan 22,335 0.02%
 South Korea
North Korea
Indians in Korea 10,317 0.02%
 Maldives Indians in Maldives 9,000 3.1%
 Brunei Indians in Brunei 8,600 2%
 Pakistan Indians in Pakistan 1,184 0.2%
 Bhutan 1,500 0.07%
 Kazakhstan 1,200 0.08%
 Afghanistan Indians in Afghanistan 1,000 0.003%
 Uzbekistan 700 0.003%
 Turkmenistan 700 0.014%
 Vietnam Indians in Vietnam 1,000 0.0011%
 Cambodia Indians in Cambodia 1,500 0.01%
 Laos 125 0.002%
 Kyrgyzstan 100 0.002%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
West Asia 4,200,000+
 United Arab Emirates Indians in the United Arab Emirates 2,200,000 31.7%
 Saudi Arabia Indians in Saudi Arabia 1,900,000 6.1%
 Kuwait Indians in Kuwait 580,000 21.6%
 Oman Indians in Oman 450,000 17.5%
 Bahrain Indians in Bahrain 150,000 19%
 Qatar Indians in Qatar 125,000 15.7%
 Israel Indians in Israel 45,000 0.7%
 Lebanon Indians in Lebanon 11,000 0.27%
 Yemen 9,000 0.04%
 Syria 1,800 0.009%
 Iran Indians in Iran 800 0.001%
 Turkey Indians in Turkey 300 0.0004%
 Cyprus Indians in Cyprus 300 0.24%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Europe 1,768,834+
 United Kingdom British Indian 1,451,862 2.3%
 Italy Indians in Italy 150,000 0.25%
 Netherlands Indians in the Netherlands 123,000 0.7%
 Germany Indians in Germany 97,000 0.04%
 Republic of Ireland Irish Indians 25,000 1.9%
 Portugal Indians in Portugal 70,000 0.7%
 France Indian diaspora in France 65,000 0.1%
 Russia Indians in Russia 40,000 0.01%
 Spain Indian community of Spain 29,000 0.07%
  Switzerland 13,500 0.2%
 Austria 11,945 0.15%
 Sweden Indians in Sweden 11,000 0.1%
 Belgium Indians in Belgium 7,000 0.07%
 Greece 7,000 0.06%
 Norway 5,630 0.1%
 Denmark 5,500 0.1%
 Ukraine 3,500 0.007%
 Romania 1,200 0.0055%
 Finland Indians in Finland 1,170 0.02%
 Poland Indians in Poland 2,000 0.005%
 Slovakia 100 0.002%
 Lithuania 100 0.003%
 Bulgaria 20 0.0003%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
North America/Caribbean 5,100,000+
 United States Indian American 3,183,063 1.0%
 Canada Indo-Canadian (Tamil Canadians) 1,200,000 3.54%
 Trinidad and Tobago Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian 525,000 40.2%
 Jamaica Indo-Jamaican 90,000 3.4%
 Guadeloupe (France) Indo-Guadeloupean 55,000 13.6%
 Cuba Indo-Caribbean · Asian Latin American 34,000 0.3%
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Indo-Vincentian 21,500 19.7%
 Grenada Indo-Grenadians 12,000 11.7%
 Martinique (France) Indo-Martiniquais 43,600 10%
 Saint Lucia Indo-Saint Lucian 4,700 2.8%
 Puerto Rico (United States) Asian Latin American • Indo-Caribbean 4,500 0.1%
 Guatemala Asian Latin American 2,300 0.9%
 Barbados Indians in Barbados 2,200 0.8%
 Mexico Indian immigration to Mexico 2,000 0.0004%
 Saint Kitts and Nevis Indo-Caribbean 1,100 2.6%
 Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands) Indo-Caribbean 600 0.3%
 Belize Indians in Belize 500 0.2%
 Antigua and Barbuda Indo-Caribbean 300 0.4%
 Haiti Indo-Haitian 200 0.4%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
South America 510,000+
 Guyana Indo-Guyanese 327,000 43.5%
 Suriname Indo-Surinamese 135,000 27.4%
 Panama Indians in Panama 20,000 0.3%
 Colombia Asian Latin American 5.000 0.01%
 Brazil Indian immigration to Brazil 1,900 0.001%
 Argentina Indians in Argentina 1,600 0.004%
 Chile Indians in Chile 1,400 0.004%
 Venezuela Indians in Venezuela 690 0.0026%
 Peru Indians in Peru 145 0.0005%
 Uruguay Indians in Uruguay 90-100 0.001%
Continent / country Articles Overseas Indian population Percentage of local population
Oceania 850,000+
 Australia Indian Australian 390,894+ 2.0%
 Fiji Indians in Fiji 340,000 40.1%
 New Zealand Indian New Zealander 105,000 2.6%
Total overseas Indian population ~24,000,000