The preference shown by Indian Institute of Technology graduates for their homeland isnít surprising at all. The great Indian resistance to giving up the three Fsófamily, friends and foodóis well known. If the best job in the world is a world away, it doesnít compare with the comforts of home. The euphoria of a great job landed lasts only a few days, and then the reality hits you. Now IITians can stay back in India and work for the best Indian companies with world class infrastructure. If you can copy the eclectic lifestyle provided by MIT and Cornell, thereís no reason to go anywhere.
Letís not delude ourselves with the idea that the west is Utopia. The fact is Indians are just another immigrant community in the western world. Chinese, Filipinos, Lebanese, Indians are all the same in New York. We can say till kingdom come that Indians are responsible for one-third of start-ups in Silicon Valley, but then when it comes accepting Indians as their neighbours, the west is still the polar opposite of the east. That fact has been recognised by Indiaís elite. Despite all the talk of integration and sundry melting pot theories, we can see the real picture in any American MNCís dining halls. Indians sit with Indians, whites Americans with whites Americans, blacks with blacks and Chinese with Chinese. It just doesnít makes sense to migrate any more.
The IITs are indeed the abode of Saraswati. They nurture talent, excellence and innovation. But sadly in the past, these bright students didnít have the right kind of environment to thrive in. India wasnít the place for the best minds because of politics and lack of infrastructure. Anybody who wanted to innovate had to do it in a foreign lab or workplace. There were too many levels to cross to be able to reach a position where you could make a difference. My father was a scientist who decided to stay back in India because he liked the warmth of India. But his innovations which could have helped his company save crores were never implemented because for the company a few crores was nothing. It earned dozens of crores in net profit over the past 40 years, and many more dozen crores annually in black, which was sent abroad anyway. But today that company is facing the heat from the pollution control board and has to close down its main plants. Several of my fatherís colleagues left the company for greener pastures abroad and became rich in the process. That was the fate of scientists in India from the 1960s to the 1990s. As the IIT story suggests, things may finally be changing.
DANGER DOWN UNDER
New Zealand isnít what it is cracked up to be. For a small population, it has an unusually high crime rate and that too violent crime. The shooting of Navtej Singh, and a series of crimes against immigrants and tourists points towards a deeply entrenched criminal virus in this antipodian country. The reason could be the low level of employment in a mostly agrarian country. The youth are also fed on a diet of dole and state support. I have heard that people without money can get heir parking/speeding tickets paid by the state. Now thatís a sure recipe for disaster. Few Indians have a stomach for such things, and it wonít be a surprise if Indian immigration slows to a trickle.