The NRI Question Revisited

Our love for NRIs – especially the variety who go to the US has always been paramount in our society. This is something I hold dear to my heart and my core reality. It has always been a bone of contention for me; why should an educated person leave India to settle abroad? Lets be practical; the modern job can carry you abroad for certain lengths of time. This is unavoidable; in fact, it has its benefits. Those benefits are beyond argument; that is not the point of the article.

The Media feeds this national past-time, engorging themselves on NRIs and their achievements nearly every day; the same Media who would not recognize a local success, or find him or her worthy of placement on their august and hallowed sites.  The people in turn, in a funny circle, simply adore reading about these people, including even PIOs – people who didn’t even care enough to retain the citizenship. A person doesn’t even care to remain Indian, and still we create a hero or heroine! Why cant the Media devote a lot more space to Indian stories? Because the people lap up the stories of the people who effectively ran away from our nation, that’s why!

I came from my parents, and also from this holy soil. This soil produced the food my parents ate, the air which they breathe. The public spent its taxes on me as I grew up. I owe a debt to every Indian, and every cubic mm of this air, water and soil. My body, my entire existence has been crafted by India. How can I  forget this? I, personally speaking, cant; not for a moment. This realization does not leave me even for a single moment of my life. Every breath I take, I acutely realize to be a gift of this holy land.

I admit that there may be cases of harassment – I personally know of one case; and am aware of some unsavoury realities that queer the pitch. Yes, in such cases it is understandable; you cannot argue with that. Each person has his or her own reality; and in cases where there is harassment, the logic I state may not apply; to such people, I can only say that I understand, respect and accept your decision – although why my acceptance or otherwise should be of material importance to them is debatable!

The biggest argument presented as a counter is that NRIs benefit us by sending money. How much would a person contribute if they stayed, as opposed to the above – have you calculated this? We arent beggars, we dont want or need a contribution equal to 0.6% of GDP. I refer to US contribution; total contribution of NRIs is 71 Billion dollars estimated, out of a GDP of around 2100 Billion Dollars. That is peanuts. These same people might contribute well over several hundred Billion to the US economy, if reports are to be believed! Ok, the economic reality there is different – accepted.  

But we have success stories of Indians who stayed in India to create value. Read my blog, business books section, for some excellent examples. The point is the value addition generated has these people stayed in, or come back to, India. They would have generated Jobs, livelihoods, brought in new methods of work and technology; in fact – that is how we have progressed over the millennia! I already stated going abroad isn’t the problem; the problem is not coming back. What use is it to us Resident Indians {yes, there is such a category} if the NRIs retain passports? That is meaningless, without value!

Yes – it would mean some frustration, and some adjustments. I once read an interesting, and outright funny real experiences of an NRI who tried to come back and could not adjust for what I regard as silly and stupid reasons. The problem you regard as problems need to be overcome – you cannot cry; this is your own holy land, your country. If you wont make it a better land, who will? They aren’t problems, but challenges. You think I don’t face issues? Of course I do – but unlike some other people, I don’t sit crying and blaming the world. I face up to them, and try to defeat them, like my many fellow Indians.

That is why the entire argument of NRIs being beneficial is plain nonsense, in my opinion. The best brains go out – how can that be good? How can a person place self-realisation above the nation? Even our holy literature is quite specific in this regard : the qualities of a good person listed specifically list doing your bit for your “desh”! Especially when the people who run away abroad are the educated – who could easily build a more than decent life in India itself!

Ok, so you  guys send in 71 Billion Dollars, thanks a whole bunch. What about the taxes and the public facilities you used when you stayed here? Want I should start putting a price on that? Or the seats you used in your education – which could have gone to a person who would have stayed? Want I put a price on that? Or on the opportunity cost involved, in terms of value added by doing jobs here, creating value and generating income & livelihood? Or should I count the cost to the nation in terms of the positive impetus you could have generated in the momentum?

Nahi chaahiye NRI paisa, I don’t want it at any rate. We {I} want Indians to stay in India. But then that is my opinion – and there are 1.3 Billion  opinions in my lovely land! In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for us local people to set a price, just as a reminder to any person who claims the NRIs benefit us by sending money – price in terms of reminding them, hello bhai – you used educational seats, public facilities, etc! Are you an investor – sending money? It is a far more effective input if a person puts in his or her knowledge, education and experience, a far greater value addition. Paisa toh investor bhi bhejtaa hai


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