About Us Indian Community in lisbon

  • India and Portugal have longstanding ties of shared heritage, beginning with the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama finding a sea-route from Europe to India in 1498, leading to almost 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The great Portuguese empire, stretching from West Asia and Africa to Japan and southeast Asia, was ruled from Goa; in this sense, Goa became the lynchpin of the Portuguese overseas colonial empire. Goa therefore has a special place in the heart of every Portuguese as it evokes memories of Portugal in its heydays, at the zenith of its global and maritime power.

  • Unlike the British, the Portuguese married local Indians, leading to enduring ties of blood, kinship and family names too along with an indelible Portuguese imprint on practically every aspect of Goan life – language, food, art, culture, architecture, music etc. It is no surprise therefore that the first Indian-origin Prime Minister in the West is the Prime Minister of Portugal – Antonio Costa, whose father grew up in Goa.

Portugal has a large Indian-origin diaspora of about 90,000 and another 30,000 Indian nationals. The composition of the Indian diaspora is as follows:

 

 

Religion

Hindus – 45,000

Sikhs – 35,000

Muslims- 20,000

Ismailis – 5000

Goan Catholics – 15000

 

 

Linguistic Groups

Punjabi - 35,000

Gujrati - 40,000

Hindi – 15000

Malayalam – 2000

Konkani/Portuguese – 15000

Urdu - 5000

 

 

State Groups

Punjab- 30000

Haryana - 10000

Gujrat- 40000

Goa-15000

Kerala-2000



 

  • The Indian community migrated to Portugal in two streams: in smaller numbers from Goa, Daman and Diu before 1961, and in larger numbers (mostly of Gujaratis from Mozambique and Angola) in the 70s, when Portugal relinquished these colonies resulting in civilian unrest. The Embassy organizes periodic consular camps in Albufeira, Torrao and Lagos, in partnership with the Indian community as an outreach exercise and to facilitate consular services to the community. In 2019, Consular Camps were organised in Albufeira, Sao Teotonio and Porto. The Consular section of the Embassy has also been equipped with a ramp to make it easily accessible for all persons, including those with disabilities.

  • The cultural impact of the 1,20,000 strong Indian diaspora in Portugal can be seen in the popularity of Yoga, Indian spirituality, Ayurveda and the number of Portuguese tourists to India. There are over 10 places of religious worship of various Indian religious communities (mosques, temples and gurudwaras), a vibrant annual cultural calendar of festivities and celebrations organised/sponsored by around 15 diverse diaspora associations, several yoga studios, more than a hundred Indian restaurants, Indian dance and performing arts schools, museums and art galleries with sections on India, specifically Goa, streets named after and statues and busts of Mahatma Gandhi- all telltale of a vibrant India imprint in Portugal.

  • Cinema halls screen popular Indian films regularly. Bollywood dances are very popular in Portugal with several private dance studios teaching them. Under a recent scheme of incentives of Portuguese Govt. to shooting of foreign films, over a dozen Indian films have been shot here including the 2019 block-buster War. There is a dedicated diaspora radio station 'Swagat', regular broadcast of Indian content on RTP and SIC (TV broadcasters), popular Indian TV channels are also available in Portugal.

  • Every year on 9 January, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is commemorated by the Embassy with the presence of all diaspora members from different walks of life including prominents ones like Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee 2007, Mr Abdool Vakil and CEO of Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts, Chitra Stern (who was also a member of PMC’s advisory committee on Foreign Investments), among others.

  • Owing to declining demography and need for a younger workforce in sectors like agriculture and construction, Portugal has been seeing a significant rise in illegal migrants from India who had been earlier staying in other EU countries and have recently started migrating to Portugal due to the work opportunities, an open migration policy, and better chances of obtaining residency here due to liberalised policies of the Portuguese Government. Deterred by toughening of the migration process in other European countries and incentivised by a simultaneous relaxation of the process by Portugal, most of the unskilled and semi-skilled Indian migrants in Europe are now heading to Portugal to get their stays legalized and procure regular visas.

  • For instance, Portugal has opened its doors to those who entered any Schengen country with a valid visa but whose visa expired later. Earlier, a definitive work contract was mandatory earlier to get a work visa; this stipulation has now been relaxed just to a simple “offer of employment”. Moreover, Portugal is the only EU country to have offered citizenship rights to migrants waiting for regularisation of stay even during the times of COVID. A 194% spike in passport registration and 77% increase in consular services rendered by Consular Section indicates the spurt in the immigration of Indian nationals to Portugal from 2018 to 2019.

Sikh/Punjabi community:

  • As per information shared by the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Sabha in Lisbon, there is an almost four-fold increase in the number of Sikhs in Lisbon alone, from approx. 7,000 Indian nationals in 2016, to approx. 25,000 now. The number also informed by the Indian community in Odemira, a Municipality in Southern Portugal that the number of Indian nationals has more than tripled from 1500 in 2018 to 5000 in 2019. Likewise, the Indian community in the Algarve region, which was approx. 500 people have also increased to approx. 5000 people.

  • To engage the large Sikh diaspora, a Baisakhi celebration was organised by the Embassy in association with the Punjabi diaspora in Lisbon and a Nagar Kirtan bringing together about 2000 Sikhs from across Europe was organised by the Gurudwara Sikh Sangat Sabha in April 2018. In October-November 2019, the Embassy in association with the Punjabi diaspora, organised ‘Vibrant Punjab’ to showcase Punjab’s business potential and culture. For the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji, Embassy organised a cycle rally in Lisbon and a special event at the Gurudwara Sikh Sangat Sabha of Lisbon. The Embassy also planted 250 trees in forest-fire affected areas with the Sikh diaspora in collaboration with the University of Coimbra and the Municipality of Lousa. The Embassy also participated in a langar and celebrated the 550th Prakash Parab with the Punjabi community in Albufeira in south Portugal in association with the local Gurudwara. Punjab State Day was celebrated on November 1, 2018 with the local Punjabi diaspora in the presence of Shri Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Minister of Revenue, Mining, Water Resources and Irrigation, Govt. of Punjab. Also, ‘Daily Ajit' a Punjabi newspaper published in Jalandhar has an overseas correspondent here in Portugal who feeds Punjabi diaspora related news.

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