As a new year dawns, many across the world hope to make it a news year for themselves – turn themselves into media made celebrities/heroes, even if it is for a short while – they can do so because their life story is one that merits making them newsworthy – in the face of danger or adversity, they used ingenuity and/or courage to emerge victorious from the challenge.
Heroes are found on both sides of the famous/infamous fence. Both are revered – for their ability to transcend the mundane, the ordinary, and become extraordinary. The Extraordinary is always celebrated – much like Mutton Dum Biryani is preferred over Mutton Biryani!
The dictionary defines "hero" as "a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities, and we have many a personality who fits this definition in Karnataka. From those in Cinema – the reel heroes, to those who work to uplift the poorest of the poor and the destitute and in between those who play politics for stardom… however brief that interlude may be.
Then there are those that leave the shores of this country and this state because they find they can better serve themselves, their family, their community, their state, and their country in that order, by earning more, living well (better than they would have, had they stayed back in the state) and in most cases giving back to the state, through remittance, liberal donations, enhanced spending, investment in land (mostly) and in the industry in their home country/state/locality.
The Indian diaspora is the second-largest diaspora in the world with a spread across nearly 185 countries. The Ministry of External Affairs (previously Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs), in 2015, has estimated that there are currently 28.45 million Overseas Indians. This includes 11.3 million People of Indian Origin (PIOs) and 17.07 million Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). According to the 2015 estimates, as quoted above, the top 15 countries in descending order with large Overseas Indian population include USA, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Myanmar, UAE, UK, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Canada, Mauritius, Kuwait, Oman, Singapore, Qatar, and Nepal.
They are considered heroes. Heroes who braved a strange land, a strange culture, one that is most opposite to their own inherent culture… imbibed it, prospered in it by understanding and integrating with it and then returned/gave back to the state much more than a local resident, could ever have!
That in some cases they do not pay taxes in the country of residence or in the country of origin should be of no consequence, as they are thankful, employed gainfully, and remit their earnings to the country of origin for the benefit of themselves and others. Many of them have their cake and eat it, even as many in the home country do not see the cake for eons, let alone eat a piece. But that would be calling a spade a spade, not a diamond, nor a heart, and using the club to hammer home an old truth.
But there are those who have integrated themselves well in the countries of their choice or their parents choice, made it their homes, and become heroes in their local communities and in their country – Take the Americans, British and Canadians of Indian origin or Indians themselves at the helm of affairs of country and corporates across the world – Brilliant, hardworking, no-nonsense individuals who we want to believe represent our nation and its culture, when in fact they do not as they have imbibed the culture if not the values of the country of emigration and turned them around for that countries benefit.
They are still Indians at heart though and are ready to cheer anything Indian – from the cricket team to the Prime Minister when they visit their shores but are not ready to return to their country of origin because of the shortcomings they observe in comparison to the country of residence including lifestyle, life quality, earnings, and social status.
Karnataka being the seventh-largest State in India by area and the eighth largest by population, Kannadigas - the people, represent Karnataka all over the world and are known for high skill and their contributions to the respective countries where they live.
Overseas Kannadigas, including the Kannadiga diaspora and the NRIs from the State of Karnataka, largely comprised of successful professionals who have migrated abroad either for higher studies or to work in major multinational corporations.
Realizing the need for forging a symbiotic relationship between Karnataka and its diaspora, the State Government has set up a Non-Resident Indian Forum, Karnataka. This Forum has been playing a very vital role in strengthening linkages between the Karnataka diaspora and several cultural organizations spread across the globe apart from motivating them to bring in investments to Karnataka State. It has detailed an NRI Policy too which proposes several measures to support the NRIs in times of need and bring their money in for investment in the state.
It would be impolite to name a few Kannadiga NRI Heroes and leave out others, especially those ordinary workers who work hard to serve their family and country, but there are many in the Gulf States and in the US (Vivek Murthy is the surgeon general nominee in the Biden Administration) who can justifiably make us feel proud of their achievements.
After all, being a hero, as compared to playing a hero, is hard work.
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