India: Emigres send more cash home than foreign investors

An employee counts Indian rupee notes at a bank in Mumbai on May 16, 2012.

Immigrants play vital roles at 4 out of 10 Silicon Valley start-ups, and a third of those immigrants are Indians. But the US isn't the only one to gain, according to India's Hindustan Times

Last year, Indians living abroad pumped $66.13 billion into the economy, compared with only $46.84 billion in foreign direct investment, the paper said. And remittances from so-called “non-resident Indians” have emerged as a more reliable source of vital foreign exchange over the past three years than investment funds.

The Gulf countries and North America are the two top sources of remittances to India, with Europe placed a distant third, the paper said. According to a Reserve Bank of India study, 30.8% of total foreign remittances came from West Asia, while 29.4% came from North America and 19.5% came from Europe.

These remittances now account for around 4% of India's gross domestic product (GDP). (Significantly more, for example, than India spends on health care).