The volumes of the Project on the History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India’s heritage and present them in an interrelated way. In spite of their unitary look, these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. The project is marked by what may be called ‘Methodological pluralism’. In spite of its primarily historical character, this project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is the first time that an endeavour of such unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization.
The Indian diaspora - emerging in the ancient period and expanding in the medieval period-exhibited a fascinating evolution in the colonial and post-colonial times, although this volume concentrates on the colonial and post-colonial days. In the colonial period, the Indian diaspora emerged largely from the introduction by the British of a sophisticated version of slavery. This was called the system of indentured labour. It is possible to raise the question of whether, from a long-term perspective, the impact of the indentured labour system has been positive (in a democratic country like Mauritius, which received the first batch of Indian labourers in 1834). For, not to speak of a number of extraordinarily rich descendants of former indentured labourers, even the average standard of living of these descendants in Mauritius is far higher than that of their counterparts in present day Bihar and U.P. Nevertheless, descendants of indentured labourers in other places (e.g. in Guyana and Myanmar) have not been as lucky as those in Mauritius on account of a poor state of governance.
It is necessary to distinguish between members of the old diaspora (in Mauritius, e.g.) and of the new diaspora (in Germany, e.g.). The former are regarded as the People of Indian Origin (PIOs). And the latter are called Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). The latter use knowledge in information technology as a resource for enhancement of self-respect and for globalizing themselves. But interestingly, they also use Bollywood films to consolidate their Indianness in the realm of feelings and emotions. A similar habitat is provided to the new Indian diaspora by the Indian cricket team, especially when it wins an important international match.
Questions can be raised about whether, in the early decades of Indian independence, the government of India could formulate a proper policy towards the diaspora, especially as New Delhi did virtually nothing while Indian migrants were being terribly oppressed in countries like Uganda and Fiji. In the wake of adoption of the policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization by India in the 1990s, India apparently could gear itself up for the formulation of a proper policy towards the diaspora.
This book will prove useful not only to scholars and researchers working in the fields of history and International Relations but also to the policy makers in the Government dealing with the Indian diaspora. It is also a valuable collection to the NRIs and PIOs and their associations dispersed all over the world.