Poor, Middle-Class, Wealthy — More Indians Than Ever Before Are Leaving the Country


12:05 PM

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Poor, Middle-Class, Wealthy — More Indians Than Ever Before Are Leaving the Country Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The recent surge in the migration of Indians to foreign countries has sparked concerns and reflections on the situation within India.
  • The issue transcends economic dimensions, encompassing the perspectives of the poor, professionals, and the wealthy.
  • This is crucial to reflect on the underlying causes of this exodus, its indicators across different socio-economic strata, and the implications it holds for India's future.

A Historical Context of Migration

  • Indentured Labour in Colonial India
    • It begins with the indentured labourers of British India who were lured by promises of a better life, and later they found themselves trapped in slavery and harsh labour conditions.
    • Despite the challenges, most chose to remain overseas after being offered Indian citizenship in 1947, particularly in places like Mauritius and Jamaica where their circumstances gradually improved.
  • Gulf Migration in the 1970s and 1980s
    • During the 1970s and 1980s,seeking employment opportunities and higher incomes, migrants faced inhumane conditions in non-democratic, feudal kingdoms.
    • Similar to the historical trend, the working class in the Gulf region, rather than returning home, advocated for improved conditions and demanded dual citizenship and voting rights.

Possible Reasons Behind the Current Surge in Migration of Middle-Class and Poor

  • Fewer Promising Conditions at Home
    • The historical context highlights a consistent theme in Indian migration - the resilience of individuals to endure significant challenges abroad instead of returning to perceived fewer promising conditions at home.
    • The willingness of both indentured labourers and Gulf migrants to face adversity underscores the determination of the Indian diaspora to establish themselves in foreign lands.
  • Economic Disparities and Less Jobs
    • The frustration arises from the perception that government jobs are only accessible through financial means or connections.
    • Moreover, the lack of well-paying private jobs has driven many to seek menial jobs abroad.
  • Educational Aspirations
    • The increasing desperation within the Indian middle class is particularly evident in the growing demand for education facilitating overseas admission.
    • The pursuit of global educational opportunities has become a key strategy for families to secure a better future for their children.
    • It is driven by aspirations for higher earning potential and improved living standards.

Motivations Behind the Migration of Wealthy People

  • Fear of Harassment and Bureaucratic Challenges
    • The fear of harassment by government agencies is a significant factor propelling the rich class to consider migration.
    • This issue reflects apprehensions related to political and bureaucratic challenges at home and highlights a broader societal unease with governance issues.
    • This fear plays a pivotal role in shaping migration decisions, acting as a push factor compelling individuals and families to seek stability abroad.
  • Search for Better Opportunities for Wealth Creation: The allure of overseas destinations is increasingly attractive to the wealthy, indicating a perception that opportunities for wealth creation and overall prosperity may be more readily available outside India.
  • Rising Golden Visa Trends
    • The London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, Henley & Partners, reported in 2022 that 7,500 High Net Worth Individuals(HNIs) had left India for residence and citizenship in foreign countries.
    • A key reason behind this migration is rising golden visa offered by many countries for wealthy people.
    • This trend suggests a proactive approach by the wealthy in securing alternative residency options.
  • Global Investment and Citizenship Trends
    • The data from Morgan Stanley, estimates that between 2014 and 2018, as many as 23,000 Indian millionaires moved their principal homes out of India.
    • This data provides insights into the scale of wealthy migration during this period, indicating a notable trend of the affluent class seeking opportunities beyond Indian borders.
    • Popular destinations are Dubai, Singapore, London, Lisbon, and the Cayman Islands which exemplifies the diverse range of locations attracting India's wealthy elite.

Consequences and Liabilities of Rising Migration

  • Impact on Families and Society Due to Middle Class and Poor Migration
    • There is a serious consequence of migration on families left behind and they bear the burden in the absence of migrating individuals.
    • There has been an increasing trend of families investing in old age homes.
    • This has caused a shift in family structures and societal expectations as the burden of migration prompts families to plan for the care of elderly members.
  • Pose a Challenge in Retaining High Level Talent in the Country Due to Wealthy Migration
    • The departure of HNIs raises questions about the sustainability and inclusivity of India's economic growth.
    • This discrepancy prompts reflection on whether the departure of the wealthy class is driven by economic pragmatism, signalling potential challenges in retaining and attracting high-level talent within the country.

The Government’s Narrative on the Issue of Migration

  • Divergent Views on the Diaspora
    • There is a conflicting perspective within the government regarding the Indian diaspora.
    • It is commendable that inward remittances into India have increased steeply to an all-time high of US$125 billion last year.
    • However, these money inflows are not matched by brain inflows to justify the PM’s characterisation of overseas Indians being a brain bank.
    • The government's assertion that overseas Indians are a brain bank is juxtaposed against the growing number of wealthy individuals seeking foreign citizenship.
  • Vague Response on Renunciation of Citizenship
    • Replying to a question in Parliament, India’s external affairs minister stated that a total of 2,25,260 Indians had renounced their Indian citizenship in 2022.
    • The minister further said that the number of Indian nationals exploring the global workplace has been significant in the last two decades.
    • Many of them have chosen to take up foreign citizenship for reasons of personal convenience.
    • A successful, prosperous, and influential diaspora is an advantage for India the foreign minister claimed.
    • He added that the government’s efforts are particularly aimed at encouraging the exchanges of knowledge and expertise in a manner that would contribute to India’s national development.
    • However, money inflows are there to be counted. Knowledge inflows remain vague, if not elusive.


  • There is a multifaceted nature of the Indian exodus and this migration has far-reaching implications on Indian society, family structure and India’s economic landscape.
  • The challenges faced by the poor, professionals, and the wealthy underscore the urgency for comprehensive policy measures to address the root causes and ensure a sustainable and inclusive future for India.

Q1) What is a "Golden Visa" offered by some countries?

A "Golden Visa" is a residency-by-investment program provided by certain countries. It allows individuals, often wealthy investors or entrepreneurs, to obtain residency or citizenship by making a significant financial contribution, such as investing in real estate, job creation, or other economic activities in the host country. This visa is often seen as a pathway to international mobility and enhanced business opportunities.

Q2) What impact might the migration of affluent individuals have on the Indian economy?

The potential loss of high-net-worth individuals could impact tax revenues and investments, while also raising questions about the broader economic environment and wealth distribution within the country.

Source: The Indian Express