More and more NRIs are returning to India's shores for new opportunities and better jobs.
These headlines from major dailies all over the world sum up the phenomenon that is unfolding in India: Indian entrepreneurs increasingly go home to join tech-industry explosion (23 August, 2007, USA Today); Indians head home in 'brain gain' (BBC News Online, August 27, 2006); British NRI docs looking back at India (16 December 2007, Times of India).
In the last few years, the number of Indians returning to home turf due to the booming economy and better opportunities compared to other foreign countries has been on the rise.
According to a survey conducted by Indus Ventures, around 60,000 professionals settled in the US returned to India in 2005.
Kunal Sharma, 32, is in the field of market research and is married to an HR professional. "We lived in Sharjah from February 2005 to November 2007. During this time, I was working with The Nielsen Company in their customised research division as a research manager," says Sharma.
After the initial months — the time that it took for Sharma's residence visa formalities to be completed — his wife and daughter joined him in the UAE.
"For a frustrating six months, my wife searched for a good job in HR in Dubai. However, most of the offers were not up to the mark in terms of the profile, designation or salary. My wife has the same education qualification as me, but the salary offers were 50 per cent or less of what I was making. Finally in April 2006 she got a job with a large UAE based company.
"Sad to say, the job was really nowhere close to her previous jobs in India. We had long discussions and finally decided that she would move back to India and I would join her in some time," says Sharma.
Sharma's wife started applying for jobs in India and within a week had an offer from a Bangalore firm that she took.
"I followed her in about a year. I am currently working at another market research agency, Research International, in Bangalore," says Sharma.
He describes the move to India as a positive one. "From my perspective as well as my wife's, the move has been great.
She today works in a great organisation with a role and designation that would have been unimaginable in the UAE. I personally am in a job that is better in terms of role and responsibility as well as the desigation.
"The salary is obviously less in dirham-to-rupee conversion terms when compared to my earlier job, but there are enough and more compensations. In addition, our combined income together is definitely more than what we were making abroad," he says.
According to Sharma, the best thing about moving to India is the sheer joy of working in an economy that is thriving.
However, not every family moves back for professional or economic reasons. Dipika, 25, and Dhiraj Kapoor moved back to New Delhi after spending a number of years in London, for personal reasons.
"I'm a 25-year-old homemaker with two kids and lived in London for five years. We moved back to Delhi last year. My husband worked for an IT company for 10 years and I worked on the weekends as a sales assistant in a sports store.
"The main reason we moved back to India was to be closer to family. It was difficult being so far away from them and not being there for each other in the good and bad times.
"We have now grown closer to everyone and the children know the importance of family.
"I feel the best thing about moving to India is the comfort of being at home and being able to meet my parents, relatives and friends any time," says Kapoor.
Vast social fabric
Niti and Ashvinder Ahuja have been married for 12 years and have two children — a three-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, and two dogs.
"My husband moved to the suburbs of Washington, DC 26 years ago and I spent 11 years there as well. My husband is from the IT industry and I spent a few years in a related field before becoming a full-time mother," says Niti.
"Moving to India was always at the back of our mind, the desire to be part of a vast social fabric after coming from the relative isolation of America. The fact that the country was going through a renaissance, ergo opportunities and growth, wasn't lost on us either.
"Finally two incidents helped crystallise our ideas into a tangible plan — my husband selling his share in his software consulting firm and having two children back to back," says Niti.
Ahuja says their children are being nurtured and have blossomed surrounded by family and friends.
"It may be a cliché but the truth is the depth and the warmth of our culture can only be realised when you have been away. We truly have come home," she says.
Birmingham-based dentist Raj Singh moved back to Mumbai recently after spending 10 years in the UK. "With the healthcare sector booming in India, I was able to get a similar position in a private hospital with a salary that matched what I was making in the UK.
"Combined with the fact that I am back to living and working in my country has made it a win-win situation," says Singh.
Singh does not miss any aspect of his life back in the UK. "I can now get all the grocery and fashion brands I bought in the UK, here in India, which has made getting acclimatised to life back home easier," he says.