Diaspora Statistics

The Indian diaspora is one of the fastest-growing in the world. In researching and writing Leaving India over the course of seven years, I came across numerous resources that may be of use to other scholars, researchers, and journalists interested in the Indian/South Asian diaspora.

Quick Facts

  • 2,843,391 people of Indian origin living in the United States, according to 2010 Census
  • 26 million people of Indian origin living abroad today, according to Indian government estimate as of 2011 … (11.5 million people of Indian origin living outside of India, according to most recent formal survey by the government of India in 2001)
  • 6 countries outside South Asia with more than 10,000 people of Indian origin as of 1900
  • 47 countries outside South Asia with more than 10,000 people of Indian origin as of 2001
  • Sept. 9, 1834: Beginning of Indian indenture and the modern Indian diaspora
  • 1917:  U.S. Congress bars all South Asian immigrants
  • 1923:  U.S. Supreme Court rules that South Asians, although “Caucasian,” are not “white” and are therefore ineligible for naturalization as U.S. citizens
  • 1965:  U.S. begins to allow significant immigration of Asians, including South Asians, with scientific qualifications
  • 1968:  United Nations passes resolution expressing “grave concern” about brain drain of skilled Third World professionals to First World nations
  • 2009:  President Obama’s administration appoints record numbers of South Asians to executive branch positions

Detailed Historical Data and Statistics

Even for a data geek like me, wrangling the statistics on India’s diaspora into a usable form was a challenge. Various methods have been used over time to calculate the size of the diaspora, and the  data sets are of course flawed:  censuses were irregular, each country and survey used a different methodology, the names of countries and territories changed over time, etc.   Still, it was necessary to compile these statistics in order to form a picture, however approximate, of the impressive growth of the Indian diaspora over time.

The attached spreadsheets represent, to my knowledge, the first comprehensive historical data:  that is, a compilation of statistics from various surveys from 1900 to 2001.

Download Excel spreadsheet

Please note there are two tabs:

• rankings of countries with Indian populations greater than 10,000, and
• all countries reported.

Useful links and bibliographies and information on South Asian diaspora


United States