Jain Temple

Hot Spots

India Links
Call Home


Art & Culture
Book Shelf


Chat and Blog

About Us

Contact Us
About Us

Interesting Feature on NRIs and Indians returning back to India >> Features Achieve >> Return To India (R2I)

NRI techies head back home (By Revathy Menon)

It’s boom time for techies all over again. And this time, it’s the young NRI’s who are reaping the benefits, as they take this opportunity to return to their roots, while the companies get to pick from the cream of Indian IT talent abroad. And in Hyderabad, the new IT hub the trend is more than obvious.

Riding the wave of the IT revival in India, all big names like Wipro, Infosys, Satyam have stepped up recruitments. And in doing so, they have attracted young NRI professionals eager to return. Most of these highly qualified youngsters are gradually filling up top and middle level positions of the companies. Although the figures vary for different organisations, most companies estimate that anywhere between five and 12 percent of the profiles they receive for these positions are from NRIs.

Says Santosh Kumar Mishra, HR Manager Wipro, Hyderabad, “A sizeable number of resumes that we received, in the last one or two quarters, have been from people who are looking to come back from abroad. In fact, two to three senior positions in the company have recently been filled by such persons.”

Kalyan Vadrevu, HR manager at Mensamind, agrees. He points out two reasons why this trend is on the rise. “For one there is an increasing demand here, and secondly a lot of companies are closing down abroad. Besides, recruiting returnees’ works for us too. They have the interpersonal skills needed, they have ample exposure and a good three-four years of experie
nce,” he says.

Rohit Kumar, Vice President and COO, Global Energies and Utilites Practice at Wipro, is one such person. A business graduate from Wharton, Rohit worked in Oracle, US for five years in a senior position, before he decided to return to India.

“The most important decision that persons like me have to make when we decide to come back is being willing to settle for a third of the salary we used to make. But the advantages of coming home outweigh the disadvantages by far. You are close to your family and you can lead a much better lifestyle than you would abroad. Ever since I have returned I have received e-mails from my friends who are thinking of coming back,” says Rohit.


Rooster's Call

A life well lived is coming home to do something besides, money being no object By SUGATA SRINIVASARAJU

So, is there more to the story of the returning NRI, the Bollywood superstar 'slumming it' role and the developmental innovations of a former Citibanker. Of course there is, and one way to see it is to take a walk to the Vinayaka temple in Chennai's Besant Nagar, where it isn't uncommon to see traditionally dressed elderly couples shod in out-of-the-box new Nike trainers. The only variant-many parents will now have been joined by the footwear supplier, the NRI offspring.

For reasons ranging from bad (the dotcom fallout and the still-hurting knock-on effects) to good (the engineer/mba path is still a safe career bet, and if you're into anything radical, India's never been a better place to set up shop), NRIs have been returning to India in huge numbers. In Bangalore alone, something like 35,000 ex-NRIs have 'returned' over the past five years. This may dwarf the number in other metros, but the total for India over this period is at least 50,000.

 And the numbers are growing. Last July, nearly 1,000 people of Indian origin, or PIOs, attended a job fair organised by a magazine in Santa Clara, California, and offered their resumes to companies planning operations in India. A Wipro job fair too met with similar enthusiastic results. Bhaskar Sanyal of IBM, who returned six months back from Singapore to manage a global IT project out of Bangalore, confirms the growth: "In the SAP community alone, we recruited 10-12 returned NRIs in the last three months." He also receives a lot of e-mail enquiries because he is known in the techie community to be pretty thorough with PIO procedures and taxation. CISCO director Srikanth Hoskote, who returned last April, also speaks about the huge volumes of mail from people who want to return.

Still, IT isn't quite the international meal ticket it was during the boom towards the end of the last decade, so it isn't surprising that most of the returnees are industry professionals. But the numbers are also made up of a number of remarkable artistes, bankers, entrepreneurs, lawyers and teachers, to name just a few. They are coming back to an India that is changed not so much for the Nike or Levi's or a certain quality of life but one which provides the means to the same "fulfilment", material and otherwise. Perhaps, even more crucially, these NRIs are coming back to India because they really want to, and not particularly because they need to.

Consider Ramesh Ramanathan's experience. As head of one of Citibank's key European businesses, this bits Pilani/Yale University alumnus had already stretched the envelope of the South Indian middle-class dream. But his motivations were focused by a deceptively simple issue. He describes NRI gatherings where they would have the usual conversations on India's ills: "The more Swati (his wife) and I thought about it, the more we realised that we were successful not just because of our own effort but because there was an invisible 'system' that enabled this search for excellence and accomplishments...that ensured the streets were clean, the garbage got picked up.... We began to believe that we had to return, that it was the obligation of our generation to build these systems back in India," he writes on the website of Janaagraha, an organisation the Ramanathans started in Bangalore to engage citizens, government, NGOs and the corporate world with a view to achieving greater citizens' participation in local government. In practice, this means the often difficult task of finding effective ways of working towards laudable goals such as a demonstrably usable implementation of the 'Right To Information' legislation, for instance.

Nevertheless, it would be naive to suggest that India's infamous brain drain is about to get reversed anytime soon.Intangibles like nostalgia may play a role, but for the most part these individuals make a success out of coming back to the motherland since hard facts back it up, like the exposure, education, growth, and not least, earnings that they got out of their foreign stays. In recent years, a two- to three-year India stint with a multinational firm has emerged as a challenging but potentially rewarding attraction. Many NRIs have found the luxury of living in India on a dollar-denominated salary impossible to resist when there's a career opportunity thrown in.

Certainly, when the money is there, the living can get a lot easier. Techie Aravind Sitaram and his artiste wife Soumya sold their Silicon Valley home and their cabin in California's Stanislaus national forest to move to a farmhouse outside Bangalore which hardly offers less in terms of "connectivity". Not far away is Adarsh Palm Meadows, a plush returnee NRI colony similar to gated communities in other metros. Architect Vankulapathi Vinay even moved from Sydney to Bangalore because he sensed correctly that there would be a demand for people who could design houses similar to what NRIs had seen abroad.

But not everybody is looking at India with the sort of long-term vision that encompasses house-building. While the number of successful returnees is significant, the majority, especially in cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, are from the infotech industry, and it's unlikely that the hiring triggered by, say, a jump in the tech-heavy Nasdaq index would necessarily keep many of them in India for very long. Certainly not as long as Java remains the second language of choice after Telugu, Kannada or Tamil. Economic opportunity is still the most potent of all motivations.

Such opportunity is certainly emerging in India, but it is still some way off the phenomenal transition that hit cities like Shanghai a decade ago; Viya's Goyal describes how overseas Chinese brought themselves-and their money-in hordes when they scented the sheer scale of big bucks to be made from a giant and fast-growing economy. No one's doubting India's potential, but the reality could take a while yet. Which is why many NRIs are still hedging their bets, short of making a clear commitment to India. It's also why people like Shivram, much feared by luckless fellow students at both bits Pilani and IIM Calcutta for his sharp tongue, cheerfully lets slip a suitably tart acid drop about the hypocrisy inherent in the biological impossibility of hearts in one place and heads in another!

Luckily, there has been a seismic change which has revolutionised Indian society in between; an emergence of realistic career opportunities that veer radically away from the doctors, lawyers and engineers so beloved of middle-class India. That's why a former investment banker like Goyal can find both meaning and money out of selling Vietnamese lacquer bowls, while another, like Ramanathan, finds comparable if rather different fulfilment in helping local governments become more transparent to their citizens. Perhaps even more importantly, India has shed enough socialist baggage that it no longer necessarily sees some trades as being morally superior to others. There's hope yet for India's emergence as a legitimate professional goal, it's certainly no longer a place to flee.

Sugata Srinivasaraju with inputs from Labonita Ghosh in Calcutta and Shobita Dhar, Hari Menon in New Delhi

[Published in Outlook Magazine]






Buy Visitor's Travel Insurance

NRI Services

Ho Jayega


GaramChai © 1999-2007 || Terms of Use