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PIO Community

Malaysian Indian Community

There are over 1.9 million people of Indian origin, possibly the largest PIO community outside the Indian sub-continent. Organized Indian immigration to Malaysian peninsula began with the establishment of the East India Company stationed in Penang in 1786. They consist of Tamils (who together with Malayalis and Telugus constitute over 85% of the total), Punjabis (mostly Sikhs) and small number of Bengalis, Sindhis, Gujaratis and others. The majority of people of Indian origin came to Malaysia as plantation labourers, and this remains the single largest group even today. However, they are more than proportionately represented in the teaching, medical and legal professions as well as in Government service. For instance, more than 30% of the lawyers and doctors in Malaysia are Malaysian Indians.

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a partner in the Barisan Nasional coalition, now has 3 seats in the Parliament. Dato' Seri Samy Vellu has been conferred with "Bharatiya Samman Award" during Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in January 2003 held at New Delhi by the Government of India. At the last PBD held in Chennai in Janaury 2009, Tan Sri Vadiveloo was honoured with the "Bharatiya Samman Award

The other main Indian Parties in Malaysia are – the People's Progressive Party (PPP) and Indian Progressive Front, which supports the Government from outside. Minor Indian parties are Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA) and Parti Panjabi Malaysia.

There are approximately 150,000 Indian expatriates and workers in Malaysia. Indian expatriates have formed a Bharat Club in Kuala Lumpur. This is becoming a useful focal point for the increasing number of Indian expatriates who are coming to Malaysia for work as IT professionals, engineers, and doctors and in the joint ventures and overseas subsidiaries set up by Indian companies in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Indian community maintains close family and social ties with India. A large number of Malaysians visit India either to study, to meet their relatives and friends, as tourists or for business. At one time (in the 1960s and 1970s), an estimated 30,000 Malaysian students were in Indian institutions of learning at any point. This number has dwindled substantially since then. However, well over 30% of all doctors in Malaysia today are Indian-trained. Manipal Medical College alone has over 3000 alumni in Malaysia.
The first joint venture medical college- Melaka Manipal Medical College- between India and Malaysia has started functioning with the Manipal Academy of Higher Education as the Indian partner, under a twinning programme. Replicating the experience, Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation, a Deemed University in Salem in Tamil Nadu, has established twinning arrangements with Penang International Dental College (PIDC) in 2005. There are efforts to continue these successful examples through twinning programme with various prominent educational institutions in India. Exchange Programme in the field of Education and a MoU on Reciprocal Chairs on Contemporary Studies on India and Malaysia are under discussion which will enhance educational relations further.

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