"The Indian civilisation has been built upon successive waves of migration throughout history comprising traders, soldiers, missionaries, communities escaping persecution, artists and academics and artisans seeking better opportunities," India's Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said on Monday.
"This mega diversity of our peoples is among our greatest strength," he said at a session of the intergovernmental negotiations on a global compact on migration.
The statement comes amid heated debates in India about historic migrations, some that happened eons ago.
Lal did not get into the debate or into the specific theories or peoples, but made a general statement, which mentioned "soldiers" among the wave of migrants.
He pointed out that migrations were a global phenomenon throughout history and nations have emerged through this inter-mingling.
"Most nation states and societies have been built upon waves of migration over the past several centuries," he said.
"Science confirms that all of us are migrants. The deep and the more recent history of our migration and mixed ancestry is, in fact, recorded in our genes," Lal added.
"Migration has continued to expand and is now aided by the integration of economies over the last few decades," he said.
Speaking of the benefits to the world through migration, he cited the example of Mahatma Gandhi, who studied in England and worked in South Africa, saying he is "among the most well-known international migrants who contributed hugely to our collective progress."
Lal also mentioned the many Nobel Prize-winners of Indian descent "who made seminal contribution to science" as well as foreign-born scientists, inventors, businesspersons, artistes, sportspersons, authors, academics, doctors and political leaders "who have made an indelible mark not only on societies where they lived but globally."
Negotiations are taking place for a global agreement to facilitate safe, orderly and regular international migration that is to be concluded in December in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Lal tried to dispel what he considered two widely held misconceptions about India and migrations.
While India is considered to be among the top countries of origin for migrants globally, the rate of emigration from India is less than half of the world's average, he said.
"It is much lesser known and appreciated that India is also among the major countries of destination, as also a transit country, for migrants largely from our neighbourhood," he added.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com)
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