ABSTRACT

It is widely agreed that diasporas play an immense role in the development of their home countries. Colombia’s Caldas network shows how a developing nation’s linking with its diaspora abroad can play a significant role in home country development projects (Meyer et al. 1997). Not only do diasporas support their homeland by ‘injecting new ideas and resources that can catalyse progress in otherwise stagnant economies’, they also facilitate the opening up of home countries to the global economy (Johnson and Sedaca 2004: 63). They contribute through remittances, and are the major source of FDI, technology transfer, phil anthropy, and political powers, and influence the source of foreign aid. Recently, India and China have shown how a country can benefit from their overseas populations (see Kapur 2001; Zweig et al. 2008). By creating linkages with the diaspora, many developing countries inspire their overseas populations to engage, invest and run businesses in their country of origin (Meyer et al. 1997). Today, most states recognise their expatriates and acknowledge their potentiality. A reliance on migrant capitals such as remittances and knowledge and technology has prompted many home countries to incorporate their populations abroad (Guarnizo 1998). A good diaspora approach involves an organised and clear policy that manages and cultivates the relationships with a country’s population abroad (Kitchin and Boyle 2011). Countries such as Israel, Mexico and Macedonia use their diaspora as a tool for ‘lobbies’ and an instrument of foreign policy (Shain 1989). Similarly, countries like Croatia, Italy and Armenia provide their expatriates with the right to vote, while others deny political participation and representation (Bauböck 2005). Countries have different strategies in approaching their diaspora populations. Mexico, China, India and the Philippines have multiple organisations to facilitate their diaspora both at ‘home’ and ‘abroad’. In Bangladesh, there is a Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment. China has a State Council, Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council (OCAOSC) and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee (OCAC) for its people living abroad. Likewise, India’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) looks after Indians abroad (World Bank 2008). India’s MOIA deals with the state policy coordination on migration with numerous packages for overseas Indians. Similarly,

the Ministry of Foreign Employment in Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment in Bangladesh focus on the welfare of their expat workers. They provide their citizens overseas with protection and various training to support them in finding jobs. It is through these establishments that home country governments are able to engage their overseas populations to better realise the target of acquiring remittances, fetching investment and gaining access to diaspora skills. Additionally, countries such as Israel, Mexico and Macedonia use their diaspora as a tool for ‘lobbies’ and an instrument of foreign policy (Shain 1989). Similarly, Croatia, Italy and Armenia provide their expatriates with the right to vote (Bauböck 2005). In contrast, Nepalese populations living abroad are not governed by state policies even in the post-democratic era. This is especially so for return migrants, in terms of their investments and immigrant rights (Ojha 2012). The country monitors its overseas population of two million through limited embassies and consulates. It would suffice to say that Nepal’s policies, which are mainly related to migrant prevention and promotion, are more focused on ‘extracting material resources’ from its people abroad in the form of remittances (Barry 2006: 28). Although the Nepali government started to send its people to work overseas with the enactment of the Foreign Employment Act in 1985, the country does not have any concrete plans to mobilise their resources in the home country’s development projects. Since existing policies are mostly related to labour migration, they do not cover the entire diaspora population. Despite the structural changes in Nepalese politics, only minor deviations have taken place in its diaspora policy. Moreover, scholars in Nepal not only view the country’s poor growth from a socio-economic perspective, they also ignore the importance of its diaspora in the development of the home country (Tamot 2008). Taking into account the country’s dependency on remittances, ignoring the role of migration in the development of Nepal would be costly, especially when the Nepali diaspora in the United States and Canada alone possess a combined ‘annual personal earning’ of about US$12 billion (Adhikari 2011).