Should Indian students go for higher studies to USA in the 2016s & later settle in there ??
Back in the 1980’s when the American dream was still made in USA and not in China, I desperately looked forward to migrating into that coveted country. That was the time of pink colored inland letters called pre-apps which were to be sent to the American Universities and in turn they would send you back thick envelopes with application materials.
For some reasons I never made it to the USA, and the regret of not having made to the most prosperous nation lasted in my mind for the next 25 years. A month long technical training at a young age of 26 to that country led to a further strengthening of that feeling and a continued realization of having missed the “Greyhound” bus.
25 years later, two trips- a family vacation and a long business trip to USA, completely changed my perspective. The business trip took me to many extremely fast paced cities, and around the beautiful American country side and to some exclusive neighbourhoods where a lot of Indians stay. Also the difficult & dangerous neighbourhoods as well were on the travel itinerary – where most of the colored community stays. The great navigation tool GPS also took me through cities which were almost deserted and decaying and infrastructure (specially steel bridges) needing a huge revamp. It also took me to areas where industries had closed down long ago and people having moved out to other locations. A number of commercially active cities of the 1980’s have changed into ghost towns with the people being hit hard by the production moving out to China and other countries.
Staying in India, one does not know what’s happening in USA, exactly the same way staying in Dubai does not tell you what’s happening back in India. The vice versa is equally true. The fact is that a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and it is time to take stock of a lot of issues in migration that our next generation may be planning.
Who are the types who can migrate to the USA now? Mostly- the wealthy middle and upper middle class people- those who incidentally are having a set up for a good life in India. It is not the lower middle class and poor who are in a position of migrating. A complete balancing statement of life is necessary if you are already doing well in India and if you still want to migrate to USA.
India though not the best place now to stay, is the correct place to be in if you are reasonably wealthy, have a roof over your head ( mostly inherited from our parents !), and if you enjoy the pleasures of low labour costs even unknowingly. I see a lot of families from the middle class who now have a driver, a full time cook, a couple of visiting servants, tution teachers for the kids, a full time nurse for the old grandparents, and also a couple of cars for the family . This is in addition to affording all the fees that are needed for college for a couple of bright children.
Honestly, things have drastically changed in India. I remember, back in the 80s, a manager in a public sector drew Rs 50 k as his annual salary at retirement, and a second hand ( pre owned) Ambassador car costing as much as Rs 40 K ! People stayed in rented flats till they retired and moved out to their own homes with their lives savings – almost at retirement time, to cheaper areas -a virtual surrender to the fact that you could manage your own house/ home only at the fag end of your lives .
Things have changed, the same manager at age 35 draws Rs. 30 lakhs or much more, and a brand new Japanese car costs just 1/3rd of his annual salary. A driver comes in at Rs 13000, ( USD 200 ) a month. A full time maid comes in around the same price, and if she does not turn up, the “Poli Bhaji” Kendra next door serves you home cooked chappatis & vegetables for Rs 100 ( USD 1.5 ). Do you realize the extent of salary income increase and but also notice that basic life essential services still being available at throw away price ? Neither do you have to drive your kids to their dance class or swimming pool- there’s always that noisy Auto which taken you to your destination at quarter of a dollar. And, it does not snow in India , so either you don’t have to rake up the snow or pay for doing the same.
And things are changing further…….jobs lost in the USA are found in India. India is 25% of the American working costs for skilled labour- and if the outsourcing continues, India is likely to be the greatest beneficiary of the high cost US economy. Recently, USA increased its minimum wages, yet you see boards everywhere “ Positions Open” and “NOW Hiring”. USA is in real shortage of lower end “willing” workers, and India is flush with them. This economics is going to work out well for Indians. 30 years ago, Indians rushed to any core engineering stream for university admissions, and later found jobs in those fields. Those fields are now almost defunct. Those jobs have moved out elsewhere, India is a distinct beneficiary- but our poor quality has left us much pretty behind in the race.. We still have a chance here, though. No doubt that the USA is the top end destination for software & hardware jobs , but then equivalent jobs will be created here as well.
Yes, I accept that there is no comparison between the quality of life in the public domain in USA & India. Those standards will never be reached by India in the next 500 years or ever. The roads, the driving, the cars, the discipline, the education, any infrastructure issue, and public healthcare system is beyond imagination of that of India’s.
Life is pretty tough in the USA, even for the best of professionals. They work 9 to 11 hours a day, drive their own vehicles, come home & cook food, clear the dishes, and do all their chores on Saturday & Sunday like washing and ironing, gardening and all kinds of cleaning and dropping kids to school and classes , preparing for the next week and face bitter winters for about 4 months. They do all the work, not because they cannot afford the help, but do so because everyone does all these things on their own . Even the CEO of any organisation drives his own car. Anyway, what’s wrong in that ? They struggle to pay huge college fees and medical & other insurance costs. In most cases they just own one house, may be because the government has ensured that basic needs of life like a house is not where you invest and speculate. In most cases, both the husband and wife toil hard to have a good life for their kids, and for themselves sometimes. However, if the family does not have a decent income for any reason, it is very difficult to have a good life for all including the kids.
In the personal domain, things can be great by local standards or more likely haywire by Indian ethos. The younger lot do not seem to find the need to marry. By choice many are single mothers, and divorce lawyers advertise their services widely. Though first generation Indians do not get affected much by this, approximately the third generation of immigrant Indians is no more “Indian”.
Nowadays, a number of students who go for the fall admission, return in 3 months in the Christmas vacation for a short stay in India . That was not the case 30 years back- when students arriving in USA, normally went home for the first time after 2 to 3 years after their education or after getting a job. Several lakhs of Indians are now financing their own education at US universities. This change in wealth pattern for Indian students and parents, itself tells the story that India is doing well and quite differently now, and staying back in India may make a lot of sense in the future. Or put it more correctly, it is great to go the USA as a student, but even better to return in time to cozy India. If you are in a financially sound position to go to the States now, it is possibly more likely that you will have a much easier & prosperous life in India ! Choice is yours …I just explained one option in detail.