There has been an increase in the number of Indian nationality workers from science and technology returning back to India from the US, due to the economic meltdown there. Since economic conditions are precarious there, job uncertainty prevails, most of the Indian students are returning after their graduation.
It is difficult to ascertain the extent of the exodus as statistics of returnees are not maintained by any government. Judging by the anecdotal evidence within the Indian community of technocrats both abroad and in the US, there is definitely an acceleration of returnees among them.
Earlier the trend among the Indian students was to continue living in the US in search of job opportunities after their graduation. But now the Class 2009 are returning back immediately to their home country India. The H-1B visas jobs are now becoming rarer and with this the job prospects are becoming dimmer.
India is now able to offer better career prospects and standard of living as improved considerably. Also the increased waiting time for permanent visas has created many problems. According to a survey on 500 Indians, who had either studied or worked in the US, but had returned to India, conducted by the research team led by Vivek Wadhwa, professor at Duke University, “educational and career opportunities ” were the main reason for the returnees to India.”
The view held by these returnees was that there was an increase in demand for their skills in India and also more activity in science and technology. Majority complained about the visa availability and also lack of jobs in the US and not being able to obtain H-1B visa. According to estimates made by Prof Wadhwa about one million Indian nationals who had H-1B visas as well as their families were waiting for permanent residency. It might take a decade for them to know whether it is a Yes- or No due to the present political climate and this long wait was definitely a strain on their nerves. During this time it becomes difficult for H-1B visa holders to move in and out of the country to visit their families.
Prof. Wadhwa is of the view that delays in obtaining a permanent visa within a proper time frame was the major cause for the returnees wanting to return to India. The improved quality of life in India was another attraction and also better standard of living. The returnees felt that their purchasing power in India was equally good as abroad. Also medical facilities were also better due to better science and technology development within the country.
The returnee also felt that they preferred being closer to their friends and living in the native culture. They were also able to provide better care for their aged parents. They felt that the care was better here than in the US.
These returnees will make much intellectual and economic contribution to the Indian economy, which will definitely undergo innovation.
Since the Indian immigrants comprise a disproportionately larger part of science and engineering and science jobs and Indian students occupy a large percentage of science and engineering seats in college, the returnees return to India will benefit the economy manifold. These students are innovators of the future, as well as patent holders and entrepreneurs in the coming years.