India received $87 billion in remittances in 2021, and the United States was the biggest source, accounting for over 20% of these funds. What is fuelling migration to the US and its impact on India?
“Migration powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. Yet it is a source of political tension and human tragedies. As a global community, we face a choice. Do we want migration to be a source of prosperity and international solidarity, or a byword for inhumanity and social friction?” – Antonio Guterres
It is an acknowledged fact that the US has benefited immensely from having tremendous economic growth with the huge contributions that migration has made. This has been the narrative of the great “American Dream.”
What drives Indians abroad? Soaring dreams or escaping pains?
In this 21st century, we are all migrants. Most of us have left our places of origin to work somewhere else and settle down there, as the place grows on us and we don’t want to change the status quo.
It is as common as human evolution, which has helped better growth and progress while getting the world seamlessly inter-connected. The common and prime driver of migration has been better income generation and growth.
Over the past decades, Indian migrants have contributed significantly to the US economy and have scaled the corporate ladder to lead large MNCs.
Among the Indian communities; the Malayalis (natives of Kerala), the Gujaratis (natives of Gujarat) and the Sikhs (natives of Punjab & Haryana) are the most migrated communities, and can be visible in all continents. And it is no coincidence that they are the most enterprising and economically stronger communities.
So what are the broader factors affecting migration to the US?
There are several reasons for people to migrate to other countries. Some of which include
lack of appropriate opportunities, lack of talent retention policies, visa issues and dual citizenship provisions, lack of merit recognition, relatively poor quality of life, tax rates, among others.
Then, there is a sense of entitlement enjoyed by sections of the ruling elites with above-the-law privileges and with no accountability.
Professionals, experts, PMPs with skilled and chartered professionals are seen as lacking the drive to be in leadership roles to deliver projects in time and quality deliverables.
Not everything is rosy outside India though, but the living standards seem to be better while talents invariably struggle less for desired results and recognitions.
A few major benefits of living abroad include:
- Good career potential, quality of overseas education, quality of life, easy visa-less access to other countries for work-related travel, demand for English speaking Indian talent etc are the pulling factors.
- There are clear cut systems in place in most developed countries and extensive social security mechanisms that really help people in need.
- Work-life balance: weekends and holidays are given priority and respected by employers. So no work on weekends. Also, the working hours are strictly followed.
- Skill-based growth path, no hierarchy, fewer politics.
- Better health care system: Proper care and better treatment and less negligence even when it is a very minor thing.
- Quality education: it is one of the most important things when it comes to quality. In certain countries, education is absolutely free of cost in public universities. The procedure of teaching is very different and practical with stress on sustainability. It generally encourages questioning and provokes to be innovative, not rote learning, as is so common in the Indian educational system.
- Colleges and Universities allow 20 per cent of the teacher’s engagement in teaching and balance on research on curriculum, different subjects and towards higher studies. Students don’t feel study pressure and enjoy their learning.
- Quality of food: Stringent food safety requirements mean that every food item is regulated. For example, the remaining baked items are thrown away at the end of the day and the next day fresh ones are sold. The same goes for vegetables as well.
- Better transportation facilities. One does not have to have his own car or bike to commute. And of course, the freedom to travel to other countries effortlessly, visa-free.
- No corruption, nepotism or pulling strings. You will become what you study for.
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