Diaspora Philanthropy from a Homeland Perspective: Reciprocity and Contestation over Donations in Central Gujarat, India

Author: 
Natascha Dekkers and Mario Rutten

Diaspora Philanthropy from a Homeland Perspective: Reciprocity and Contestation over Donations in Central Gujarat, India

Authors: Natascha Dekkers and Mario Rutten 

ABSTRACT

Financial flows are an important aspect of transnational ties between migrants and their respective home countries. Worldwide, the amount of remittances has increased  substantially, India being the largest recipient of overseas remittances in the developing world today. Although household level remittances have received the most attention from scholars and policy makers, an increasing proportion of financial flows from migrants to their home countries consists of philanthropy. Additionally, studies on the economic and social impact of diaspora philanthropic activities in India emphasise the role of the migrants who send such transfers, while relatively little is known about the views and activities of the recipients in the home communities.

This paper deals with the philanthropic relations between Indian migrants and the local community in Gujarat from a homeland perspective. It is based on research in rural central Gujarat, one of the regions in India with a long history of migration abroad. The findings show that philanthropic relations between migrants and the home community entail both co-operation and tension. There are differing views on the nature of the gift giving process and these are related to status differences within the community, and between members of the local community and those who have settled abroad. Moreover, recent political changes in the home region have affected the organisational channels used to transfer philanthropic donations. The findings illustrate the ways in which local context shapes the nature and impact of diaspora philanthropic activities, thereby highlighting the territorial importance of ‘deterritorialised’ transnational ties.

Keywords: Diaspora Philanthropy, Transnationalism, Migration, India