Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Non-Returning Indians

'I am going back to India', I said.  'Why?' said one Indian.  ''Are you kidding?' said another Indian.  'Really?' said a third Indian. 'Oh!,is there a problem?' said a fourth Indian sympathetically, 'Didn't you like it here?' said a fifth with amazement in his/her voice...oh well, you get the hang.   

Celebrating Independence - The tri-color on Empire State Bld New York 

Every time I hear this question, I feel a sense of shame mingled by plenty of sadness.  I understand people migrate for various reasons – better job opportunities, more luxury, more money, better lifestyles, peer pressure, family pressures, better infrastructure, to see the world, travel more and a myriad other reasons.  Some of them do return back while many of them make the new country their new home. Based on my interactions with the various NRIs  (Non Returning Indians -for the rest of this blog) in the West and the Middle east, I would cast them in the three categories below:

1.  The one's who believe that India is a great country with wonderful traditions and culture and they will teach all about it to their kids – but from a distance.  This variety watches cricket matches with great fervor, celebrate all festivals more devoutly, listen to Desi Radio, watch  as many Hindi movies as possible, in their frequent 'potluck' parties and do try genuinely remain connected to their memories and culture of 'Des'. They also participate in the India independence day parades, attend bhangra classes and try to explain Diwali and cricket to their non Indian colleagues. Their homes are usually decorated with Indian artifacts and despite all the cuisines they try, they have to have Indian food regularly. A large part of this group also claims, they will return to Des in a few years if given a suitable opportunity.  Of course, they say this every year for a good many years till their citizenship gets processed, and sometimes even after that. This group also ardently discusses politics in India and how everything is still in shambles and tut-tut the system and the government not wondering once if they are doing a thing about it. Most of my lovely friends here belong to this category and I do not really blame them for not wanting to return or not being motivated enough to return from the cosy lifestyles which most of the developed world leads.

2.  The second variety is the one's who detest the fact that they are Indians, and would rather be passed off as Mexicans/South Americans (who have the same skin and hair color) and distance themselves from everything desi as far as possible. This variety usually comes to meet family for special occasions such as their own weddings or their siblings weddings. They usually strut around as if the NRI tag were pinned to their backs and expect respect because of that even if they maybe really nobodies in the other country! They typically turn up their noses at Indian rituals, festivals and beliefs, Bollywood, Indian clothes and everything that’s not American. They will also follow baseball and American football passionately and will try to be utterly indifferent to a World cup win in cricket. If there is some positive development they see in India such as a small mall in a sleepy town, they say, India tries badly to ape the west 'where they are from.' This variety feels that a dollar is a lot of money in India and flinch when to pay for anything remembering the prices of the last time they were there. They also try to develop an accent however fake it might be, and listen to only western music and pretend they never heard of the movie DDLJ. This variety, if single, also tries to seek out non Indian girlfriends/boyfriends/ spouses to further distance themselves or prove to themselves that they are indeed global citizens.

3.  The third variety is the ones who long to go back desperately and would do so if they indeed had the means to do so but cannot for lack of any kind of job back home.  This variety is mostly found in the middle-eastern countries where thousands flock to earn a basic living leaving home, heart and their families behind. This variety usually spends most of their lives lost in the memories and dreams of returning one day to their families with enough money to not have to work away from their home towns.

The India Independence Day Parade New York

The NRI's who do return do so for the following reasons
  1. Visa issues or work permit issues where the host country refuses to allow them to live or work
  2. A spouse wants to return because of visa issues around seeking jobs
  3. Family back home
  4. Health problems
  5. Do not get a job or get kicked out of the existing job
  6. Need to raise kids and get scared when they see teenage culture in America
  7. Are crazy (To the propounders of the NRI faith, I belong to this category who does not have any real reason to go back and I don’t see why a reason is necessary to go back!)

 In the crazy category, there can be several variants,  
  1. They go back for the sake of being in India and closer to their roots and believe they don’t need a reason to go back to their own country
  2. They belong to the SRK Swades category who wants to go back and make a difference. I have only read about such people but I certainly wish more existed.
  3. Those who believe that there are more conveniences in India. I can identify with this variety.  I probably missed my Shobha Bai, the cook more than I probably missed all my family! Ah!, the luxury of being served and not having to do everything on your own!
  4. Those who think there are more opportunities to grow professionally.

I have ceased to think about the wrong and right of this whole matter of moving out or moving back.  Everyone has a right to a better living and if India cannot provide the standard they seek, migrating is a good option. Brain drain is a real issue for India and the insufficient infrastructure and lack of opportunities is making talented people India so needs to move forward, move further away from their homeland and not wanting to return to a land replete with bureaucracy, corruption, pollution, traffic jams and lopsided development.

The good news is the fact that India is making tremendous development and its sheer population is attracting large investments by foreign companies leading to an abundance in opportunities and development of talent. This is actually attracting a glut of long gone NRI's to return and allowing several others who would have otherwise left for greener pastures, to stay on. However, again, there is still much that needs to be done in the areas of infrastructure and better living standards in every city and town.  Being one of those hopeless optimists about India, I am indeed returning (not next year but in a few more days!)  and exhorting others to join me as I look forward to the day when the decision to migrate becomes not a must, but a choice.  


  1. I would rather categorize myself in the 3rd category! I too look forward to the days when migration would become a choice and not a must!! Home is where my soul resides and would do anything and everything possible to return and have a happy family back home!!

  2. brilliant post!

    best wishes in all your endeavours on your return!

  3. There's another variety of Nri. Tho come those who come to the USA at a young age, get an american citizenship (just as an insurance incase things 'don't go well' upon returning to India), make a good amount of money by middle age, to ensure that they'll have a much better life than an average Indian upon returning to India, and then thumb their nose to the US, and start criticizing every little thing of America, while praising every little thing about India.
    This variety makes me wonder, if they would be so eager to return to India, had their been no economic boom ?? Is their sudden shift in loyalties (for lack of a better word) merely due to economic benefit, they think it would bring ???

  4. Glad to read that an NRI thinks differently. And tell me about Category 1 & 3. What saddens me is that our very own countrymen settled abroad have the poorest impression of our country.

    I feel such an impression suits them.

    Agree India may not be the best country to live in - but it here I was born and I don't mind struggling with it.

  5. @Cindrella - I am glad there are like minded NRIs who do wish to return back!

  6. @magiceye - Thanks! Am totally looking forward to getting back.

  7. @AAD : Thank you for visiting and I do appreciate your comment. I understand your angst at the NRIs who do return after making pots of money, but atleast they do return and hopefully do some good to their home country!

  8. @Purba - I totally agree with you and accept the good with the bad. Atleast by being in our own country we can strive to better the bad and further the good.

  9. @ Richa, Thanks for responding. I agree some do return, but the thing is I don't feel that all those who choose to stay outside the country are doing a big disservice to the country, or even that their being in the country would be necessarily better. If the person we are talking about is like a scientist, or researcher, inventor, or entreprenuer, then maybe it's valid to some extent to say that they could help more in their homeland. But the vast majority of Nri's who work in average jobs, and have average skills, I think are better off whichever country they are in. India recieves a huge chunk of foreign exchange reserves from the remittances sent by nri's, also many nri's hold land and shares in India, and pay capital gains tax, property tax etc on it, so they do contribute to the economy in their way. Also,considering how much of a competition there is in India already, if all of these nri's returned with their american degrees, and overseas work experience, then they could elbow out the locals, whose resume may not be as colorful, but who may even be better in some other areas.
    In the end, I think for countries like India & china, where population is so huge, there is little option but to migrate out for those who have an oppurtunity. I don't think every single person who lives abroad must return to their homeland, there are many smart and intelligent people in India itself, India is doing just fine without the nri's returning, so their arrival is largely inconsequential, IMO.
    BTW, I stumbled upon your blog through indiblogger, and since I too write mostly about NRI related topics, felt like responding, your blog is great, keep up the good job !!

  10. Resident or not posts from NRIs have more indian-ness than from majority of us who live here. you get something which we miss perhaps we suffer from right identity crisis which you get defined so easily

  11. Nice One !!!

    Very much glad to read abt NRI 's outlook

    Keep Writing...
    looking to see u here very soon

  12. Neat summary. I guess a substantial amount of folks in the US would fit into the 3rd category as well, I know I am one. It's all the simple joys that I personally miss more than anything else. Really glad that you took a firm step towards returning to India. Hopefully I will emulate you. Someday. :)

    Wishing you the very best.

  13. I would say this is a very biased opinion about NRIs.
    Its not possible to categorize them as you have prolly done, this would be more like generalizing.

    There may be many more categories... because I believe its hard to categorize people's thoughts and reasons, most of them might have a different one.
    Also, its hard to follow your own choices. I know there are responsibilities, obligations and things like that, but if someone wants to go back, he can go back, nothing should stop him.

    And I would also say, if there are people who don't want themselves to be called Indians or they don't associate themselves with India, they should rather stay wherever they are, India does not need them....

  14. Wonderful heart felt post! Glad to hear that you are coming back home soon :)

  15. Nice post. Do check out a chapter about NRIs in the book "May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss" by Arnab Roy.

  16. so rightly summerise.....

  17. Nice post indeed..its always challenging to categorize people and you have done that pretty nicely. I hope you enjoy your journey and life back in India.

    Though I have not been to US/Canada/UK/Aus, but I think we can add another category of 2nd generation who are born in these countries! There might be some who genuinely likes local culture/life style/value system over Indian culture!

    In the 2nd category of detestors, perhaps there might be some who might had bad experiences with Indian people/food/culture/clothes etc etc !

    I know we should not stereotype people and I also know that stereotypes are usually correct, but somehow I feel that over next 50 years the necessity of being associated with one country/culture will start disappearing!

    Vasudhev Kutumbkam !!

  18. @AAD, Dheeraj, Nitin : Thank you for your comments. Quite honestly, like you all said, I might be generalizing here quite a bit on the types of NRIs that I came across, but I do feel, in one way or the other most of the people do fall into these three buckets with varying degrees of association. I am not against NRIs going to new lands and not coming back, and I really have ceased to debate on if they are doing a service or disservice to their homeland. @AAd: you do have a point on the NRIs contributing through repatriation and it also struck me through you is that India would certainly not have a few million more jobs were everyone to move back! However, what I am saying is, it is rather unfortunate that they have to move because of lack of options and the standards that are the norm in the developed world. And it is more unfortunate, that many of these migrants dislike their origins. The silver lining however is that with India's progress, the category 2 is declining and category 1 is increasing with ppl even moving back from there!

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  20. Well, if the actual point was to say that it's unfortunate that the Nri's have to move out due to lack of infrastructure in the country, then the focus of the topic should've been the poor governing of India since Independence, not the categories of NRI's.
    I come across this kind of anti-Nri sentiment often when I visit India, it's kind of become hip to put those down who chose to leave the country.
    I honestly think that most Indian's (NRI's or locals) wear rose tinted glasses or blinders, when it comes to their homelands,they have some romanticized version of their country in mind, instead of what it is in reality , just look at what's good, and don't mention the bad, and if you do, you are looked at as a traitor of sorts, anyone who criticizes is promptly termed India hater, which makes many back off from mentioning many aspects of Indian culture that make them uncomfortable. I personally do not endorse, condone, or agree with many things which come under the umbrella of 'Indian culture' , but does it immediately mean I hate India ??? No way, if I did, I wouldn't give a damn, either way, there are many other countries in the world, where similar stuff goes on which I don't care about, I only object to it happening in India, and that's because I love my country and want it to get better, but somehow criticizm = disowning or hating the country, by Indian definition. Just because someone loves their country doesn't mean that they all HAVE to live in it (or return to it), or only talk good about it, there's no standard size for patriotism that's fits everyone, no benchamark that has to be reached, everyone can be equally Indian in their own ways.
    About the high migration rate out of India, even if say we didn't have poor infrastructure, and were every bit as good as developed countries, still I don't think it would have eliminated migration, it's foolhardy to think so, because none of the current developed countries have anywhere near India's population, and no economy, no matter how big can ever sustain so many jobseekers at one time, so if the developed tomorrow do see such a spike in population....the ones who do get oppurtunities outside the country are sure to take up the oppurtunity, and it doesn't have to mean that they're deserting their home country.

  21. @Manasi : I do not disagree when you say that life may not be as easy initially after moving to an alien land, and I also do not disagree with the right of choice of moving if you do not find what you seek in India. But what I am saying is, after disassociating themselves from all things Indian, I do not see 'love' they exude for their country. I am not labelling this disassociation as hate, my blog is about people who are indeed ashamed of their origins, of not being white and of being from a poor country and the fact that they are so besotted with another culture, that they strive to close one door as they struggle to get into another. As to the point of Indians living in India and criticizing things, I think they have more of a right to do that, since they are living there and experiencing the discomfort of the system and trying to better things or maybe have a reason to get out. Sitting in drawing rooms of a land far away and finding faults with the Indian system is very unfair especially there is not a thing the NRIs are doing to better it. If they are well, then that's another story.

  22. @AAD: Let me clarify again, that I am not demeaning the NRIs who do not return. I do agree with going to wherever there are better opportunities and a better life. Living in India could be a struggle for many and NRIs could be good ambassadors in their host countries. This is the point I have made in my category one. Most of the Non returning Indians, love their country but will not go back because of its imperfections. Its like a long distance relationship for ever! Is there a redeeming goal to it? India subject to its imperfections will justly be criticized by one and all, but that will not solve anything, especially by the NRIs who really are not in a position to remotely change things from a distant land.

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  24. @Manasi: Criticism is very welcome here if you disagree!
    Everyone has a right to voice their opinions in India and outside and we are going to always do that no matter where we stay. What I am saying is the disconnect becomes too large once you leave to do anything about it you are away the land which you are talking about. criticism without affirmative action is of no consequence within or outside India. I totally admire NRIs who stretch themselves to go the extra mile to adapt to a new place, to the new culture etc. It really is wonderful to assimilate the good but at the same time, it is rather sad that many do forget their own roots and this is not just NRIs. For that matter, as we progress, Indians in India themselves are taking on new customs and traditions and leaving behind old ones which may not be so convenient to carry on.
    You may not have come across the variety of the ones who are ashamed blatantly, but think of the times you have heard ppl say "India me jaane ke liye kya rakha hain..kitna ganda hain sab kuch', I have heard these comments, hundreds of times and I would not say such people are in anyway not ashamed of where they come from. I have also heard people hide their Indian identity and really, these are the people who you would not like to meet!

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  26. @Manasi: Thanks for all the comments, but you misconstrue me when you think I am criticizing the NRIs or that I hate them. My family has lived as NRIs mostly and still are so, and I have been for long enough too. My point is, NRIs do great work and make a great life for themselves which is good and they must strive to do that for themselves and their families, but it saddens me when they move away from their roots and do not look at India as a place where they might like to go back to. I feel sad that India is losing out on talented people like you who I am sure are doing well wherever you are, but perhaps if you had been in India, that talent might have helped the country march a wee bit ahead. This is no hate campaign!I hope you get that.

  27. Well. Looks like I'm more Category 2 than any other.

  28. @rindo Interesting to hear someone to freely admit this. There are I m sure plenty in this category in varying degrees though. I wish there were something to convert you to category one though!

  29. @atul Prakash : I agree. Indianness is something we discover when we live outside India!
    @amruta: thanks!
    @enzilthedevil Thanks for the comment. Hope to see you return someday when you find the right opportunities!

  30. @Dhiraj : I agree with you on difficult choices. Abt my categorizing, I am sure there would be more varieties, but on my interactions, most would fit in varying degrees in what I mention here.

  31. @Arti,Nona, Pempa : thanks for your comment! Hope to see you again.
    @Gowtham: Thanks for the reference. I shall check it.

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  33. @Richa:

    I'd rather not. I'd rather fight the stereotype because

    a) It's cool, and I want to feel different and awesome.

    b) I'd be missing a lot, if I'd stuck to just following Indian stuff, dining Indian food, and being part of strictly Indian enclaves.

    Bash me all you want, but I kinda feel flattered when people tell me "Wow! You don't speak like an Indian." Am I ashamed of my Indian-ness? No. I don't have to fake it. I am a sight better than the general perception of Indians, at least. It gives me a kick to admit that I am Indian, and yet don't sound like one.

    And besides, I really want to impress my indian Facebook friends with the number of new friendships with other country-folk. A chance to make them jealous, heh heh.

    I don't say I disown Indian company completely. It's just that, they're so boring! Every time three Indian people come together for lunch, you KNOW what the topic's gonna be. Hours and hours of excruciatingly long stories of one's hometown, and even longer discourses on the differences between Home and Abroad. Maybe they're homesick, and I understand that. But I'm not, and I'd rather listen to other people's stories about the places they've been, the cool things they've seen and done etc.

    Also, isn't it kinda sad when the people who've been living in a place for so long know so little about it? Part of the charm of living in a new country is being pleasantly surprised by the differences. How will they know, if they only read The Hindu on their iPhones, and not the local papers?

    Let me tell you a story. When I was in Bangalore, I had a roommate whose day pretty much went like this: he'd go to work in the morning, come back home and then watch his favorite Malayalam and Tamil movies on TV. Everyday. When he goes back to his hometown, he meets up with his old friends, and then comes back home to watch his favorite Malayalam and Tamil movies on TV.

    And then a friend asks him about Bangalore.

    "What's Bangalore like? Is it cool? Is it just like what we see on TV?"

    "No da," says my roommate, "there's nothing to do there."

    You see the problem here? I love Bangalore better than MY hometown, because of all the things I could do. Sketch Club Sundays, plays, live nights with Indie bands (and foreign too), book reading, auto shows, AIR shows. And before I left, I met a whole bunch of adventurers who did nothing on weekends but climb rocks in the outskirts of town. There was no dearth of activity in Bangalore, and yet we have people like my roommate, who say they don't like the place because "there's nothing to do."

    It's the same everywhere. The most info I get from my Indian friends in this foreign city is where to find the best Indian food, best Indian this or best Indian that. It is extremely limiting. So much so, that I've grown to hate it when food stall vendors assume that I'd prefer curry instead of peanut sauce, with my chicken satay. And also when I'm directed to the vegetarian counter by default.

    And I can't pin it on Indians alone. Americans are pretty much the same. In America, it's like America it's like that. Europeans, thankfully, are more open to new experiences and trying out new stuff. Which is why I like them. My fascination for white skin is also at play here, which means I'm still Indian at heart, no? :)

    Whoa, this is one long comment. Enough justification. I guess all this makes me category two, and I can't help it. I may be wrong, but right now my priorities are pretending to be cool, and be a "global citizen". I'm still in my twenties, so I guess I can afford to be so. Maybe as I grow older and homesick, I'll graduate to Category 1. Give me time, Richa. I'll get there. :)

    PS: Would anyone in Singapore like to join me for the Comic-Con, next month?

  34. @ Richa - very aptly argued. I feel no NRI wants to return back to India by choice (otherwise why should they go to America in the first place?). NRIs have left India for better prospects and to realize the American Dream. So like you say, unless there are very compelling reasons or you are kicked out of a job, why should you come back without realizing your American Dream?

  35. @Rindo - That was highly interesting and I am glad you gave me the context behind the previous comment. I am glad you are out there experimenting, 'seeing the world', meeting new people from everywhere else and treading untrodden paths by fellow Indians. That is a huge part of getting exposed and living in a new place and that is not something I object to or am against. In fact, when I came to the US for the first time and my hubby took me to the Indian street, I totally wanted to get away from all things Indian! I hadn't travelled all those thousand miles to go to an Indian place after all! But Rindo, my point is, wander all you want, experiment all you want, mix with as many different people as possible and widen your perspective..thats great, but at the end of the day or maybe year or a few years, don't shake off the fact that you are an Indian, and perhaps you can spread the word about how great Indians can be (like you presuming you are smart :)) to all the people you meet in the world. Perhaps you could shake off the notion of 'typical' Indians so that they want to know more. There is bad in India, but plenty of good too that you can find and value now or later in life.

  36. @Vikram : Exactly. After all, US can offer what India can and more. Besides, with the increasing number of Indians there, it doesn't even feel away from home!

  37. A great post.
    You have presented a very balanced and unbiased view point neither condemning those who prefer to stay in their host country nor justifying your own stance as to why you would be rather in India.When the question of assasinating Julius caesar in the interest of his country confronts Brutus the noblest foe that can ever be says, '' it is not that I love Caesar less but that I love my country more''. Likewise, you have no personal grudge against America and you are following your heart'desire when you have chosen India over USA. Home is where your heart is . Every body has a righr to follow his inner urge.

    You can live happily anywhere if you have positive outlook towards life and at peace with yourself. Put a miserable person in heaven and in no time he will turn it into hell.
    I appriciate your accomodating attitude towards those who differ in views.

  38. @Nitin Jain: I do think most people fall under the brackets I have put them into. Probably have less or more characteristics of either of the categories but they probably do represent a fair majority. I am all for assimilation of cultures if they like it. But alienation in total from their own culture is something that expedites the process of age old traditions to die.

  39. @Aai: thanks for the feedback! I probably am predisposed towards the the people who have not left although I don't have anything against the one's who have for their just reasons. I reckon, like you said, its a choice that people have and a right to follow their path to happiness.

  40. Hari Bol ! nice article. i m one of those fortnate few who managed to return India. and to tell the truth i didnt had any good opportunites back in India and i struggled almost 10 months to find a suitable job back in India. I wanted to return India because i was missing its air, soil and water (hawa, mitti aur pani). However back here, i miss the association of ISKCON devotees in muscat and wish at least some of them would return back so that i can enjoy their association once again. But alas, kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahi milta. We dont get everything we wish for. We have to make choices. Hari Bol ! harish joshi

  41. @Harishji: Thanks for visiting and your comment. I am glad you returned and found your true calling even though there was a struggle. Kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padta hain, but such is life!I hope you see your friends return someday soon.

  42. Was wondering what is the point of this article but then I read the last part...:D

    hope you find the country better than what it was when you left...

  43. Wow this discussion seems to have gone wild! I was away for a few days hence couldn't respond. Thanks for visiting my blog Richa, I look forward to more interactions, I think blogging is best enjoyed with discussions even passionate ones with people from opposing points of view.
    Well to your questions in response to my last comment I'll say that yes, many Nri's do eliminate the thought/possibility of returning due to lack of amenities/infrastructure etc in India, I don't see anything wrong with that, they see something they like elsewhere and move there, there's already enough density of population in India, so it's better if some move out.
    Yes, it is like a permanent long distance relationship, but any relationship gets easier to maintain and bear with a little space, so does this relationship with one's homeland.
    Why does there have to be a redeeming goal ?? And does the redeeming goal, have to be in the form of returning to the country ?? Why can't it be in a different form of contributing to the country's foreign reserves, property tax etc . What I have not understood in this discussion, is the underlying need of the NRI's to return to India ?? What for ??

    I have left my parents home after I got married, don't plan on returning to them does it mean my relationship with them is over?? Does it mean that unless I live with them I cannot contribute/participate in their family?? Ofcourse not, it does not mean any of those things, it merely means that the relationship has changed, and morphed into something different than it originally was, but continues to be a very important part of my life, this is exact case with the Nri's relationship with India, all of the first generation immigrants to different lands, can go anywhere they like, but they cannot change who they are at the core, and that's being an Indian.
    IMO, it's almost always the NRI's who need to return to India (for their personal goals) rather than India needing them to return to her.

    About Nri's complaining about India, I don't feel they shouldn't have any say in it, most have families who still live there, and visit often, and might be in some way or another still linked to some/all of the problems still plaguing India, so when they see a better life outside of India, it's natural for them to want to comment about the negative of the country.

    If an Nri, starts praising Indian culture, and comparing it with western culture and saying how bad the latter is and how good the former is, no Indian would object to him, he would be considered a true Indian for understanding Indian values even after residing outside, but if the same Indian says something negative, then immediately he is labled India-hater, or someone who is a traitor and has absorbed too much of western influence and lost his Indian roots, why the double standard ?? Why is it ok for an NRI to praise India and not criticize it?? If any westerner comes and lives in India, and tries mingling with Indians, we pride on Indian culture saying that maybe they found something missing in their culture hence came to India to find it, but when one of our own does the same and moves out, we see it as not our culture's fault, but rather the person's fault, who's a traitor, and chosen to move out rather than try and fix the problem.
    This argument that one has to either take efforts to fix India's problems or shut up about them, perplexes me, we live in a democracy, pay taxes and elect a government, that government is supposed to overlook the running of the country, if ordinary citizens have to run around trying to bring about changes, what's the need for a govt ?? Where's the time to bring about such changes, after having a life, and a job in today's world ???

  44. @AAD: Understand your point of view and I don't totally disagree although I still feel, had so many well qualified talented people not moved out, a little more progress may have been made, although of course, a lot of NRIs moving out has actually helped India when they hire other Indians, open companies and remit plenty of money. However,that is a small percentage of people. I am also not opposed to people moving out for better opportunities, but this reflects poorly on India only and I totally do not blame the NRI's for moving out if they find something better.Its more like attrition in a company. If a company cannot retain its talented employees, its at fault and not the talent. However, had the talent remained despite all ails, perhaps the company could have done better.

  45. This topic certainly has generated a lot of discussion and touched a few raw nerves too, I guess. :) I find those NRIs you have classified as being ashamed of their roots most abhorrent too. But unlike some, I don't condemn all those who leave their shores to work nor would I call them unpatriotic. After all, how many resident Indians are doing anything for their country save sit in their AC drawing rooms and pontificating?

    Hope we meet sometime since you are coming back to India :) Where will you be living?

  46. @zephyr: it indeed did and you were the only missing link on my blog :). I don't condemn the one's who leave their shores, indeed they need to better their lives, it is a weakness in India that I am saddened by that makes talented people leave by the thousands. Is it not a loss for India if they leave or won't it be a gain for India if they come back and do open companies and do good on the home ground instead of only repatriating money? Atleast being in India, I vote, I employ a few people (okay, just the domestic help for now :)), and can aspire to do good, and spend here raising the GDP!
    Yes, I would absolutely love to meet you -I will be at Mumbai. I hope you visit Vinni sometime!

  47. Dear Richa
    Your article is an excellent and thought provoking analysis indeed of the different types of NRI’s. I would however like to highlight a new perspective to the ongoing discussion. As you rightly pointed out every body when they leave their mother land have different dreams and responsibilities which they have to fulfill, for which they are forced to leave their near and dear ones and travel to far off lands. Now over the years, many a times they become sort of money making machines who work day in and day out to fulfill the responsibilities back home which they have taken upon their shoulders. By the time all these responsibilities have been fulfilled a lot of water has flown under the bridge! In the meantime the tragic thing that happens is they are distanced from their family and friends back home. They are many a times unable to be present to share their happy and sad times with them. As they say “out of sight is out of mind.” And as a result, the very people for whom they have come so far, are slowly emotionally also distanced from them. From non- resident Indians they slowly become NON- REQUIRED- INDIANS. The extended family as well as the friends back home get used to living without them and do not miss them anymore! As more and more time passes in fact they have to make special efforts to remember them during their special moments, which they may or may not take! However much you might try to make up for the lost time during the small holidays that are available to you or through the e- mail etc. it just doesn’t seem to be sufficient. This is the negative aspect.
    Now there is a positive aspect to the whole thing. As time passes these NRI’s have simultaneously built a small circle of friends of their own (maybe because it is the need of the hour) who become bonded than the relatives back home. These friends have been with you during your thick and thin times! We all know that nobody is in dispensable, but still nobody prefers to leave the cozy atmosphere and leave for “alien lands” where they are not required! Man being a social being always prefers to be in places where he is needed and feels at home So one of the main reasons why people continue to stay away from the motherland even after the need to do so is over is that your “Karma Bhoomi” slowly becomes a more welcoming place to you than your “Janma Bhoomi”! . In the gulf unfortunately nobody is allowed to stay indefinitely, so many a times these groups of friends buy houses nearby in India so that they do not lose out on the relationships they have built over the years ;and can be there for each other in their old age and when children too have flown away from the nest in search of greener pastures! But this is not always possible. All said and done , India is a beautiful country with beautiful people and all the traditions and culture preserved , so it is impossible to stay away from it forever but some solution has to found to this genuine problem of these NON- REQUIRED INDIANS!

  48. I am using your photograph of Empire State Building as my profile photo on fb to symbolize international celebration of Indian Independence Day.

    I would be providing the credits and link to your blog in the description of the photograph.

    If you have any objection, you can mail me the concern on

    Avi Mediratta

  49. @Kalpana Muzumdar: Ma'm -Thank you for reading and for your interesting insight. I completely see where you are going and cannot disagree with you on your version of NRIs. I haven't been to India for the past couple of years and I feel that my friends back home are slowly but steadily slipping away and I will soon be a non-required Indian if I don't hurry home. The virtual world is great, but still it cannot replace the joy of meeting in person and going out for dinner. I did make many good friends here, and it will be just as hard to leave them although I can hope against hope that one day they will return like me too.

  50. @Aviral - I am glad you liked my photo. If you like any other pics, please let me know before you use them.

  51. A wonderful post ! I live in north of the US right now..hoping to go back ! Excellent post !! I am sure you would have so much satisfaction when you return home !

  52. Hey Richa, I had read this post earlier; but can relate better to it now post relocation. It is great!!!

    I have an idea for you. Now since you are back in India, you should try categorising Indian parents - one who feel very very proud that their sons/ daugthers are off to more greener pastures (i doubt they even understand what exactly is the place their kids are headed to); two who feel sad and grumpy that their children never got the opportunity, and three who do not put any pressure on their children and let them decide their own future. Also there must be some way to determine how the opinions and decisions of one generation affect those of the next generation!