A peep into the thoughts of any residing Indian on their non-residing Indian members is sure to be fancy and glittering to some extent. Undoubtedly, such perceptions were prominent more in the folks of earlier generations but even today a major sector of society including those residing in the urban areas are likely to foster such opinions.
Akin to the saying, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side,’ the life and status of NRIs has always been generalized: they enjoy this amazing jolly life abroad away from the societal horrors of India. Even when they do visit, annually to the least and some even less, they come with bags full of goodies and gifts. Irrespective of their survival reality, the plea of an NRI is never truly accepted or even believed.
They earn in currency superior to the rupee, hence logically, they are wealthy. They roam and visit places and have fun all the time. Gadgets, machines and automobiles are a necessity in their daily life. They turn uncomfortable in the ‘unhygienic’ environment in India and can tolerate only ‘Bisleri.’ Even a bachelor who has been living years of his life away from his family, dealing with the burden of responsibilities, faces such luxurious stereotypes!
While partially the content is true, the tone is often wrong. NRIs should not be equated to those who leave India to never-to-return to India. NRIs are still equally Indian whose home is still India and live a life of dilemma. They wish to return home and are in constant search of the right door, awaiting promising opportunities. They enrol their kids in Indian international schools to remain in line with the culture. They celebrate the Indian victories and pray for a better India.
Stuck in the vicious cycle of money, social pressures and prevailing prospects of India, they are unable to break away from the shackles that prevent them from settling in their homeland. Yet, they haven’t abandoned India. They play their part in the country’s development from abroad. They too get affected by what happens in India. Indians receive more money from friends and family abroad than any other country in the world. As of 2022, remittances to India have reached a value of $100 billion. The money goes directly into the Indian economy and helps the foreign reserve accounts too.
There are more Indian-born immigrants living abroad than from any other country in the world. 15.6 million Indians now live and work abroad and the number is on a steady rise. Almost every NRI has a family connection back home.
But the concern here should be the driving factor leading them to leave their origins to invest and build a life from scratch in a foreign land, amidst alien environments and hurdles. The year 2022 has seen a hike in the number of Indians seeking opportunities abroad; this is directly proportional not only economically but also to the psychological well-being of a country – if India is as great as it claims in various fields of religion, literature, science and technology, then why are more and more citizens in the quest to move?
According to data from the Pew Research Center, religious minorities from India are more likely to move to the rest of the world. While a big chunk of the population settles down in foreign countries to get access to better education, others do it for better job opportunities and peaceful quality life.
The increasing emigration statistics raise concerns for many thinkers of the country. A lot of Indians, after completing their education in India, shift abroad for making a career. The country’s resources providing their services outside is known as “brain drain”. True that the concerned people generally do send a large amount of remittance, as mentioned earlier, but they are increasing the overall efficiency of foreign companies.
Increasing efforts are being made to encourage the youth of India to stay within the country and make a career here. But that will only be possible when the job opportunities and standards of quality of life of the nation strive to be as good as the ones outside. The leaders in power need to broaden their mission, look beyond the box and work with clarity of vision that will lead India to its glory against the present tide of the nation crumbling due to petty, illogical and communal issues.