AHMEDABAD: ‘Jyaan jyaan vase ek Gujarati, tyaan, tyaan sadakaal Gujarat’. This verse written in the first half of the 20th century by poet Ardeshar Khabardar has proved prophetic. Today, people of Gujarati origin can be found in as many as 129 out of the 190 countries listed as sovereign nations by the United Nations.
The Vishwa Gujarati Samaj (VGS) claims this is indicated by the data it has collected over the last two decades. Incidentally, the central government puts the number of countries where Indians have settled at just 110.
Talking about the Gujarati diaspora, VGS president Krishnakant Vakharia told TOI, “The only countries where Gujaratis have not settled are those which are very small, undeveloped or are merely small islands without much business opportunity.”
Gujaratis comprise around 33% of the Indian diaspora worldwide. The US has the largest number of Gujaratis — 15 lakh. The UK has the next largest (seven lakh) followed by Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
Interestingly, Gujarati families live even in Nauru, a nation of a little over 9,000 people located in the Pacific Ocean. This is the second smallest sovereign state in the world after the Vatican.
People of Gujarati origin have not only inhabited Nasa’s space station but they can be found even near the Arctic Circle. Yellowknife town in north Canada near the Arctic has a number of Gujaratis working for its diamond mines. Further, some sit in British House of Lords while the US President’s team has several members of Gujarati origin.
Historian Dwijendra Tripathi says the state’s long coastline has helped Gujaratis in forging business ties with people of other cultures. Makrand Mehta, also a historian, believes commerce and culture go together. “Today, the Gujarati diaspora is next only to the Chinese diaspora in size,” he said.
Vakharia says the Gujarati diaspora, like that of the Jews, have retained their culture even as they have participated in the social life of their adopted countries.
Times of India