I have often been asked if I could ever see myself re-locating back to India and my answer has always been- depending on circumstances. If unemployment and financial issues were to crop up then yes, I’d be off albeit reluctantly.
I was recently part of a conversation where one person who was living on the edge declared that if push came to shove, he had no qualms packing up and going back to Delhi. The other person in the conversation reminded him about the difficulty he’d face in adjusting to life there after living in Canada for over a decade.
Thousands of Caucasians have re-located to India
On my last visit to Bandra, Mumbai, I was surprised to see more Caucasians living there than I sometimes see here in my nook of the woods in Mississauga. Aha, so there is where they moved. There are hundreds of Europeans and Americans as well as thousands of NRIs who are living and working in Mumbai alone and I wondered how they were adjusting to life there, especially Caucasians. I met a French financial journalist renting a one-bedroom apartment in Bandra who said it took her a few months to adjust to life in Mumbai. I was impressed, she was born and raised in Paris and moving here on work must’ve been quite a culture shock. She confessed that it was either a good media job in Mumbai or unemployment in Paris. With so much happening economically in Mumbai, her company had no choice but to move her there. It is not just foreign companies sending their staffers to their offices in India, even blue chip Indian companies recruit talent from overseas and there are any number of young graduates facing grim employment prospects in the west as well as middle-level managers who apply for these positions and are more than willing to move to India.
Understandable why NRIs are reluctant to move back
I can understand why so many NRIs who’ve made the decision to uproot themselves and settle down abroad are a little more than a little reluctant to go back after they’ve adjusted to life in the new country. Why even former refugees from Uganda of Indian-origin chose to come here to Canada rather than go back to India where many of them had family. They would ofcourse have gone right back had they no other option.
Reasons why NRIs are torn
Many first generation South Asians have often sold off land, liquidated other assets and have little or nothing back in India or Pakistan apart from distant relatives, so going back isn’t an option. I’ve heard stories of well-educated but unemployed South Asians who’d rather live in debt and slave at factories rather than go back to India where they could atleast find decent employment, a modest home and more importantly, self-worth, self-respect and dignity. Instead they continue to live here and say how wonderful the west is because there is dignity of labor unlike in India!
While the luckless and unfortunate NRI may let pride keep him rooted in the land that has betrayed him professionally, other opportunistic NRIs who find themselves stagnating or at risk of long-term unemployment in North America and Europe aren’t averse to taking up a job at an multinational company in an Indian city. Salaries for many management jobs are at par or higher than similar jobs in the west if one factors housing, a company car and other perks are thrown in. Another incentive is the 9 per cent annual compensation as opposed to 2 per cent in most developed countries. Furthermore many of these NRIs are paid part or most of their salaries in dollars.
There was a time a posting in Delhi or Mumbai for example warranted a hardship allowance. Many NRIs were rightly reluctant to move especially if they had young children, now private and international schools in Indian cities are bursting at the seams, demand has outstripped supply. So all those unemployed young people with degrees in teaching, you know what to do. Many hospitals if you have the money meet international standards. Doctors driving cabs could have their own chauffeured cars if they choose to be doctors in India!
We would miss the air quality in Canada
At the end of the day, there is no denying that many of us fled India in search of amenities, the clean air, the order and the efficiency that sets life in the west apart from life in India. Living in the west is wonderful if one has a good job, but even paradise could quickly become hell when chronic unemployment strikes. What then is the point of all that fresh air if you can’t live on it alone?