Sri Lankan diaspora
on a presentation by Chandra Jayaratne, Chairman, Ceylon Chamber
of Commerce, at the recent Asia-Pacific Marketers' Association Conference).
second generation non-resident Indians born in the United States
made a value adding presentation at the India Economic Summit in
Bangalore in November 2001. These three young professionals had
attempted to develop a strategy to leverage the Indian diaspora
overseas for economic value addition to India. Having been born,
educated and now working as professionals in the United States,
they had adopted behaviours and operating values of the United States.
A survey conducted amongst persons in similar positions revealed
that other than for regular contacts with relatives in India during
annual visits to India for family functions, pilgrimages and holidays,
there were no common strong links with India on a day-to-day basis
by the second generation Indian diaspora overseas.
survey had revealed that there were significantly strong, original
bondage links with India and the Indian community in the country
of residence, mainly associated with:
* being of Indian origin,
* being committed to and fundamentally aligned with Indian home
country original value systems (although the operating value system
was that of the United States), and
* the retained Indian identity
The survey also revealed that the second generation Indians living
in the United States, especially professionals, were committed and
were willing to be leveraged to add value to the national economy
In an attempt to develop a strategy, the three young professionals
had reviewed case studies from other countries that had developed
a commitment from their diaspora living overseas via an effective
network with the diaspora. Their investigations revealed that the
most effective networks were amongst the community of:
The Israelis were very strong, supportive, well organised as an
effective network and were committed to adding value to the mother
nation, with the diaspora constantly providing trade, investment
and technology transfer information of value to Israel.
The network was built around an effective and efficient web facility,
operated with cost sharing one-third each by the Government of Israel,
the Israeli private sector and by the diaspora associations throughout
had been promoted and effectively networked by the diaspora itself.
Associations also possessed an effective information database of
of the associations took pride in being value adding partners to
the State of Israel, by providing information that can add value
in generating trade, investment or technology opportunity-related
information (including information of a competitive nature, information
on new ideas, information on research in progress and even progress
on projects at incubation stage).
for the selection of such information was the potential of effective
future value to the State of Israel in expanding its trade, investment
and technology base.
The network participants did not receive any incentives or rewards
other than recognition when value was leveraged.
also showed that the Korean diaspora overseas had a similar but
a less organised though effective network amongst its community.
Here again the driving force for the effectiveness of the network
was the original homeland commitments. It was supported by the Korean
government and overseas Korean associations.
The next most effective network was amongst the French diaspora
who were effectively linked by the "Alliance Francaise"
via original commitments to the French language and culture. This
initiative was totally driven by a government agency-led institutional
framework. The French experience was unique in terms of its spread,
of coverage of nations and the depth and strength of the links,
all leveraging the French language and culture. However, their links
were not effectively leveraged to add economic value to France.
The young Indians
recommended a potential model 'for the India diaspora linkage' as
one that combines the strategies of the Israeli diaspora and the
French diaspora links.
suggested was for a joint initiative amongst the Indian Government,
Indian business and Indian associations overseas, to be effectively
linked via a web portal enabled information exchange facility. This
initiative was also to be closely linked to Indian culture and heritage
value leveraging opportunity enhancements binding the community
in the diaspora.
The Sri Lankan
diaspora overseas is generally divided and effectively separated
by self-interest, language, and religious and ethnic differences.
There is no apparent strong Sri Lankan identity amongst the diaspora
absence of a strong common Sri Lankan identity, a national network
option can yet link them together as a powerful tool to leverage
enhanced economic value to the nation.
When the North-East
conflict is resolved and the war comes to an end, there will be
opportunities to effectively network and leverage economic value
* some of the powerful ethnic community links that previously supported
the divided interests of the racial groups;
* returning Sri Lankan residents for employment in Sri Lanka or
* family links being re-established by regular visits;
* the development of a long term national vision binding all communities
with the goal of national economic value enhancement;
* effective communications and new links established to create a
"Sri Lankan identity" amongst the people and especially
amongst the diaspora overseas.
The challenge ahead must be met by a network partnership amongst
the government, foreign diplomatic missions, local organisations
with network information (e.g. Old Boys/Old Girls Associations)
and the private sector.
Towards achieving the objective of national economic value enhancements:
* An effective information database must be established;
* An effective communications campaign must be launched to establish
the network demonstrating the national economic benefits and showing
the way forward action in identifying opportunities for value addition
via trade, investments and technology transfer information;
* An incentive system must be developed that will encourage the
required responses from the diaspora and foreign missions;
The strategy and action framework must encourage every Sri Lankan
living overseas in any capacity i.e. professional or not, working
or not, to commit to develop and maintain the network amongst the
diaspora, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity.
They must be
bonded by a common "Sri Lankan identity" and have the
commitment to provide the network with value adding information
to Sri Lanka in enhancing trade, investment and technology transfer