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Modern Indian Diaspora in West Asia has a long and checkered history dating back to at least the sixteenth century. A number of small communities of Indian traders called banyans existed in present-day Iraq, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. When the region came under British influence in the nineteenth century, Indian merchant communities flourished in a number of towns of the Gulf countries. The Indians served as bankers, importers and exporters, customs farmers, agents for local merchants; government contractors, pearl-financiers, etc. and as such their contribution to the overall development of the gulf countries has been significant.
The emergence of Gulf countries as oil-producing and exporting economies and the consequent demand for labour changed the size and complexion of the Indian and other expatriate communities in the region.
The significance of the Gulf-based Indian Diaspora is better understood by the quantum of remittances sent by the workers to their relations and dependents in India which is currently estimated at about ten billion US dollars.
Outside the Gulf region Israel is the only country in West Asia that hosts a sizeable Indian community of Indian origin is estimated at around 60, 000 – all Israely citizens.
The book is perhaps the first ever attempt of its kind on the subject and will certainly fill a major gap in our understanding of the Indian Diaspora in West Asia in general and that of the Gulf region in particular.
Publisher: MANOHAR PUBLISHERS
Subtitle: A READER
Author: PRAKASH C. JAIN