Overseas Indians

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Overseas Indians are amongst the most successful communities in the world. The overseas Indian's community estimated at over 25 million is spread throughout the globe. They have made profound contributions in the Indian economy through their knowledge and innovation. The majority includes Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Overseas Corporate Bodies (OCBs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs).They help in rapid developments and contributes towards the growth of Indian economy. They are an indispensable source of foreign direct investments into the country.

India has the second largest Diaspora in the world after China. The expanse of overseas Indian community covers 110 countries. India enjoys the status of being the highest remittances receiver in the world. In India, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is the main organization established at the central level for the overseas Indians. It helps in establishing Indian Diaspora networks plus ensures benefits of the Indian Diaspora from the developments in India. The ministry has also established Overseas Indian Facilitation Center (OIFC) for investment and business associated activities. Every year it sponsors 'Parvasi Bhartiya Divas' (Non-resident India day); with the motive of promotion of Overseas Indians. At the State and union territories level special NRI cells are established for the welfare of overseas Indians, along with Department of Industries or Udyog Bandhu or Udyog Mitra.

Being the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of PPP (Purchasing power parity), India is the most preferred destination for Foreign Direct Investments. The laws governing foreign exchange in India are the Foreign Exchange Act (FEMA), 1999 and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy.


NRI: - As per the act “NRI is an Indian citizen or Foreign National of Indian Origin resident outside India for purposes of employment, carrying on business or vocation in circumstances as would indicate an intention to stay outside India for an indefinite period. An individual will also be considered NRI if his stay in India is less than 182 days during the preceding financial year.”

PIO - As per the Act PIO is an individual who is not a citizen of India but is deemed to be of Indian origin if:
  • He is not citizen of Pakistan/Bangladesh/Nepal/Bhutan/Sri Lanka/Afghanistan/Iran/China
  • He at any time, held an Indian passport
  • He or either his parents or grandparents was a citizen of India by the virtue of constitution of India or Citizenship Act 1955.
FDI - It is a direct investment made by an entity in a commercial venture outside his country of residence.

Statutory bodies involved

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has four divisions under it:

Diaspora Services Division

Deals with issues relating to Overseas Indians, such as, overseas citizenship matters, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards, scholarships to NRI/PIO students in India and new techniques to increase interaction of overseas Indians with India in each possible sector.

Financial Services Division

Deals with matters relating to promotion of investment by various overseas Indians in India including innovative investments and policy initiatives consistent with the overall Government policies particularly in areas such as exclusive Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for Overseas Indians; interaction with the Investment Commission relating to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by Overseas Indians; representation in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and the Foreign Investment Implementation Authority; as well as new initiatives for interaction by OIs in fields such as trade, health, science and technology, etc. In a nutshell, Ministry provides information and guidance to Overseas Indians on a wide range of subjects related to investment policies, emerging investment opportunities and other financial services.

Emigration Services Division

Administers all the issues related to emigration under the Emigration Act, 1983 from India to abroad and return of emigrants. Its major areas of concern involve: conceptualizing of policies for improving emigration management, initiating legislative changes, and enforcing emigration reforms including institutional changes and e-Governance and articulating welfare schemes for emigrants.

Social Services Division

Deals with problems related to marriages with overseas Indians and creating awareness amongst would-be wives and their families towards the preventive measures that needs to be taken in such kind of marriages. It provides legal and financial aid to the aggrieved women. The Ministry has undertaken certain endeavors regarding this like:
  • Compulsory registration of marriages.
  • Organizing awareness campaigns for prospective brides and their families.
  • Constitution of Inter-ministerial sub-committee to discuss the provisions that could be added in the bilateral agreements between India and the outside countries to protect the interests of victims of unsuccessful and fraudulent marriages.
The Ministry has also established an Overseas Indian Facilitation Center (OIFC) as a not-for-profit association, in public-private partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry. It acts as ‘one- stop shop’ for serving the interests of the Indians located abroad.

There also exists a 'NRI Cell’ in the Ministry which takes care of the work related to investment policy for NRI’s, Foreign Institutional Investors, Portfolio Investment policy etc.

The Ministry of Finance deals with financial aspects related to overseas Indians. It has various agencies under it like Investment Commission, Foreign Investment Promotion Board etc.

The Ministry of External Affairs is responsible for all facets of international relations, which are, relationship of India with foreign countries, their embassies etc.

At the state and union territories level also efforts are made to attract foreign investment by enticing overseas Indians. Each state has its own Department of Industries and/or Industrial Development Corporations aiming to provide attractive investment opportunities for foreign industrial investment. These departments are further bifurcated into NRI cells in several states.

Investment Opportunities for overseas Indians

India offers wide range of opportunities for the investors around the globe. The overseas Indians such as NRI's & PIO'S are an important source of investment for India.

They can invest in India either through the automatic route or the government route.

Under automatic route
The FDI permitted in sector/activities under automatic route does not require any prior approval either from The Government of India or Reserve Bank of India. Investors just have to appraise the regional office of the RBI within 30 days of receipt of inward remittances and have to submit the required documents along with the Form FC-GPR to that office within 30 days of issue of shares to the non resident Indians.

Under government routes
FDI under government route is administered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).Indian companies which have foreign investment approval from FIPB do not require any other clearances from RBI for inward remittances and issue of shares to the non resident investors. The companies are required to inform at the associated regional office of RBI of the receipt of inward remittances within 30 days of such receipt.