All talk about capital flows into India tends to go down predictable paths: FDI, private equity, global pension funds and hedge funds. And so every event to sell India and every policy to bring in (or keep out) dollars hovers around these predicatable targets.
But the biggest source of inward flows is actually the unknown Indian—of the type that labours away under the hot desert sun to build yet another skyscraper in Dubai or waits at tables at yet another curry house in Southall, not to mention the well-qualified digital worker in Silicon Valley.
A new report by a United Nations agency says that such faceless Indians sent back $25.5 billion in 2006, making India the biggest market for remittances. That, by the way, is more than 3% of India’s GDP. Compare this with the $7.99 billion that came in through FIIs in 2006. Even this year’s flood—$17.5 billion till now—pales in comparison.