Sunday, June 8, 2008

Searching for greener pastures....

Wow USA.... The name itself is synonymous with hip-hop, raggae and excitement. The easiest name to get a recognition in the society( I mean our Indian society) is by living in the USA. Each year the number of foreign students coming to the U.S have increased by leaps and bounds and as of 2007, Indians make up the largest percentage of the student population with the Chinese coming a close second. Infact, the Chinese had the No.1 rank as recently as last year. It is not surprising that even with globalaization and a strong Indian economy and job prospects, a large percentage of Indians are still making a beeline to the States. Many of my younger brothers are waiting to walk this trail and many of my elders are living the so called U.S ' dream". I would like to analyze from the view point of an ordinary Malayali youth many of the bare facts.

First of all this is a splendid country with immense resources and opportunities. The civic sense is simply outstanding. One doesn't have the luxury to spit or urinate in public places. The laws are strict but no one dares to tamper with your freedom. You are sure to get a seat in a bus or a train . No one requests you to share anything be it a pen, pencil, bat or ball. Some of the Indian youth may have some misleading information about the country from Hollywood flicks..But be rest assured, the U.S is totally different from the India that you have seen. Americans are generally brought up with good manners. They try their best to promise only if they are able to deliver. I am emphasising this point a lot because Indians generally have a habit of giving great hopes and quite often reneging on that. Yes, we love short cuts. Maybe, that is why we give empty promises just to bail out of a siituation.

Having said all these, let me mention one thing about myself. I really hate to lie. I am not claiming that I have never said a lie..mostly all of mine were white lies. So let us face the reality. The cultural difference one has to face when somebody starts living here is stark. When you have a certain notion of city and when you may not see that here, that is the time when you really wonder- " Is this the right place for you"? I believe in change and to a certain extent broadminded. But, change, to me is a characterestic that has to be developed within you. There are so many Indians who come here, try to dress up as Americans, try hard to speak with a Americo-Indian accent and say that they are broadminded. That is outright absurdity. The funny thing is that Americans never expect us to dress nor speak like them. It is when we put on these odd appeareances do we make a mockery of ourselves. There are other things, I mean good characterestics, that you can learn from them- like punctuality, keeping promises and cleanliness. I feel these are the things that we should adapt and say that " I have changed". Most of us are trying to implement some superfical make overs and saying that " I am broad minded".

The higher education system is quite good over here. In India apart from the IITs, IIMs and some NITs the higher education still does not meet international standards. In the job scenario, merely working in the U.S does not mean that you are having a great job. Just compare this.. If somebody has a job in Microsoft or Qualcomm , Bangalore and someone else has a job in some unheard of company ABC in USA. Which do you think is a better option. There are still fools out there who believe that the latter is a better option. But people with common sense will tell you that the company and the work profile is more important that the place. Also, regarding the salary, if somebody gets a salary of $ 80,000 per annum-we tend to say that WOW he has a salary of 42 lakhs per annum or roughly 3.5 lakhs per month. This is totally misleading. One should consider the living expense here and also the purchasing power of the dollar vs the Rupee. It is generally assumed that the amount of dollars you earn is approximately equivalent to the amount in Rupees over a factor of 2.5. Which means that a salary of $ 80,000 which counted in Rupee terms is roughly equal to $ 32,000. Consider the other trade offs- One has to live half a world away from their families for years together,Almost non existent social interaction..( except for some weekend " visits" from some made up friends).

I read in an article recently that the percentage of IITians coming to the U.S has dropped sharply from about 70% to about 16%. Most of them opine that India is the country to be in with the kind of developments going on. Most of the IITians are opting to top rung management courses or IIScs for their higher education and are staking their careers in India. Even the vast majority of IIM graduates prefer to stay in India than go abroad. Their thought process is quite simple. India is proving to be the hot bed of technogical growth and development in this century. Why sacrifice so much and live an aloof life for just a few more dollars( I will discuss the cultural aspects of bringing up your off springs here in a future article). This is a golden opportunity to work in the best of technologies and earn a decent living within the comforts of your motherland. Why squander that?

I know that my thoughts will change the attitude of a few. But my humble request is that the work profile of a person should be respected- Not the country of work nor the dollars in hand. And as you all know, the IITians and IIM grads are an intelligent lot. They rarely bet against high odds. The reverse brain drain will be the norm, not the exception.

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