The Wordsmith's Blog

To Migrate or Not? – the Indian perspective

Posted on: June 23, 2009

Migration has been the most common feature for all living creatures on Earth. Human migration has existed ever since Homo Erectus started moving out of Africa about a million years ago. The reasons for migration have varied from colonization to slave trading. Over the past few decades, expansive industrialization and urbanization have been the major factors for human migration.

For Indians, migration in large numbers, unfortunately, might have begun during the partition. The colonization by the British did open up avenues for Indians, many of whom migrated to greener pastures. Locally – people from villages started moving towards cities in search of livelihood. People from cities started migrating to other countries in search of superior education and better living conditions eventually.

In the last decade the number of people migrating, mainly students and professionals, has risen greatly. Rapid globalization, increased earning capacity, greater awareness of choices, and countries willing to inculcate Indian talent have contributed greatly to this fact. 

Many students prefer studying abroad after their graduation seeking better education and more choice of specializations. Another trend is to study and continue working abroad because of the living conditions. An Indian student who has completed his Masters from the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand or any of the developed nations realises that the facilities and infrastructure available in these countries makes life much easier than working in some of the most developed cities in India.

What kind of compromises does an immigrant have to make? First and foremost is the fact that no matter how long one spends in a country as an expat, he/she will always be a second grade citizen. Even if one manages to successfully gain a citizenship, it is natural that the local inhabitants treat them as immigrants. Acceptability of immigrants is a major issue – even if most governments promise unequivocal treatment for all its citizens! The recent attacks on Indian students and professionals in Australia are a glaring example of this fact.

Most Indians also have a social problem when staying abroad. Indians – and there are a lot of them – are used to having people around them. Weekends / weeknights means having people over or visiting relatives and friends. The closeness is something which lacks abroad because of diverse cultures.

Another common complaint is the fact that most Indians will flinch when you talk about their children growing up abroad among other local children. Apparently, our tradition and culture are at stake and children from the west grow up too ‘fast’ for our liking. A lot of Indians who have migrated in their youth come back to India once their kids start reaching adolescence. Sometimes even earlier!

With India being one of the centers of globalization – the outsourcing capital of the world – with rapid development in infrastructure and facilities to incorporate the changes, is it now necessary to migrate? The answer to the question is a “Maybe”.

Why? Yes, the opportunities in India have grown in manifold proportions. Yes, infrastructure is improving all the time. Yes, a lot of products, facilities are now available on Indian shores, which were unthinkable say ten years back.

However, the progress in India is slow and concentrated in pockets. People still migrate from villages – the difference being – the opportunities have been shared between two-tier cities like Gurgaon, Noida, Pune and the six metros. And there is still a dearth in opportunities when it comes to education! The vastness of the population is one of the major reasons that there is such intense competition in all fields – however few or many they may be.

Migration will always be a constant factor in our ever – changing journey on this earth. One needs to really delve deep to find out what he/she needs from life to be able to decide on this question. However, one would feel we are eventually headed towards the concept of a “Global Citizen”, where geographical boundaries would no longer be a constraint. That is a different topic altogether!

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2 Responses to "To Migrate or Not? – the Indian perspective"

Glad to read the thoughts that have crossed my mind time n again. The most essential bit in this, on a personal level I believe, is you need to ask your ownself what do you want from your life. Its your choice and hence your decision.
Hope you are doing well. tk care!

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