By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, September 26, 2023: History of the last two hundred years has shown how different nationalities located at different geographical regions brought extra-territorial nationalism giving rise to tensions among countries ending in cross-border hostilities and wars. The monarchs and premiers enthusiastically steered the aggrandizement of their national boundaries and empires to support such restive nationalism. One can open the pages of the European chronicles to see such evidence.

In the nineteenth century the Prussian Chancellor Bismarck took the initiative in consolidating the German nation which was the Achilles heel of the Franco-German relationship which became root cause of two Great Wars later. Alsace Lorrain was the bone of contention. Hitler went further to include Austria called Anschluss. His ambition to unite all the German speaking people and ethnicities of Germanic origin to embrace Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia, Schleswig and Holstein in Denmark, Polish Germans and Volga Germans were the causes of devastating Second World War.

The Great Potato Famine had caused massive migration of the Irish people to North America including Canada. The strong presence of Irish population in USA has played an important part in politics of Ireland. In fact, the US interest in brokering peace in Northern Ireland through Good Friday Agreement is the stellar example of the umbilical cord between the US and Ireland.

The Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom because of its Irish connection remained scene of hostilities for decades since the independence of Ireland, and ultimately the Irish Republican Army’s militancy claimed the life of the last British Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten.

Quebec, known as new France in the past had received huge French population over three to four centuries from the time of Ancient Regime. The territory was lost to the British Kingdom in 1763, and eventually became a Canadian Province. The French never forgot their bitterness over this loss.

The sentiments for independence of the French speaking Quebecers got heightened during the visit of the French President deGaulle to Montreal where he ended his much-publicized speech with the words “vivela Quebec libre” (it means long live free Quebec) which led to militant activities of Front deLiberation duQuebec (FLQ).Two referenda, one in 1980 and the other in 1995 have possibly brought interim settlement of the issue in Quebec.

The dispersed people from their homeland in Latin America known in the present popular parlance as diaspora are seen in North America specifically in USA, in Florida, Texas and California. One finds the Asians whether they are Vietnamese, Chinese or Japanese in USA and in Canada. Such people from Maghreb countries have their presence in France and in Canada in Quebec. Migrants from the erstwhile French colonial Africa are present in France and Quebec. The Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis from the sub-continent are in USA, Canada, and UK. Mostly diaspora consists of people from former colonies and now dismembered empires.

Interestingly there was also movement of people from Europe from Netherlands and UK to South Africa and Rhodesia now called Zimbabwe. That explains why apartheid regime existed in South Africa and Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) took place under leadership of Ian Smith in the Southern Rhodesia. The Japanese population can be seen in Brazil and in Peru. Ex-President Fujimori from Peru was of the Japanese origin.

Although Jews have been displaced and deported out of their homeland since many millennia the largest Jewish migration took place from the time of the destruction of the temple of Solomon after the Roman conquest. Their prosperous presence across the continent of Europe known as Sephardic Jews of Iberia and Ashkenazi Jews of Northwestern Europe brought anti-Semitic feelings to Europe ultimately leading to holocaust in Germany and migration to US. Their return to Palestine in quest of their homeland to establish Israel is a defining moment of post war period which has remained as a potential flash point in the Arab peninsula.

Diaspora of the Indian sub-continent is preponderant in the Middle East which helps in huge remittances to India. All these dispersal of people from their homeland to other parts of the world in quest of wealth like gold, diamond, land and then for trade and business and finally for employment and many such exodus having been under distress and coercion have caused many complexities for future.

Diaspora’s link with homeland undoubtedly enriches its culture of origin. Members do not forget their tradition, language and belief and faith.At the same time, homeland also expects their loyalty and support. Land of adoption in turn has also expectation of undivided political loyalty. Integration with the local population, adoption with its culture and language is yet another demand from the country of adoption whether State or society. Dress codes have become an issue in certain countries. Ethnic dresses of women of some members of diaspora have drawn snide remarks in public.

The size of the diaspora and its collective wealth have been used in influencing the State policy in the country of adoption. Jews in USA have lent total support for the cause of Israel in their conflict with their Arab neighbors.

The Armenian diaspora in USA, Canada and Australia have taken up the cause against Turkey for the atrocities committed on them. One of the principal reasons why Turkey has not got access to the European Union is because of historical events during the Ottoman era.

Strong Latin population in USA plays an important part in tilting the balance in the Presidential poll. Even the wooing of the Indian diaspora is seen during Presidential contest.

India has been drawn into conflict with some countries due to pressure from the diaspora. It is needless to state that the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka has involved India also into military conflict ending in assassination of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. The Sikh extremism and militancy in India got support from the Sikh diaspora in UK and Canada which culminated in the bombing of the Air India aircraft, Kanishka killing all on board.

As the Indian diaspora is enlarging across the world the sensitivity associated with it must be handled with circumspection.

Politics and tension associated with diaspora is seen from America to Europe and Australia to the Middle East. All countries must respect the Universal Declaration Human Rights and international law associated with it.

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