‘All NRIs aren’t quite as rich as you think we are’

Every so often, Indian politicians and organisations call upon Non-Resident Indians and People of Indian Origin to plough their money back home. They are told to use their dollars to adopt villages and take part in social projects so as to make a difference in the land of their birth and origin.

The call presumes that NRIs and PIOs are rolling in cash. But says Ram Krishnaswamy, an IITian, this is a specious premise. NRIs, he says, aren’t as rich as most Indians think they are; the Indian middle-class is richer. And Indians working in lowly jobs in the Gulf are doing far more for the country than Indians in hi-tech jobs in the USA, UK and Australia.

Instead of looking for the greenbacks of the NRIs, India would be better served if it tried to use their grey cells.


RAM KRISHNASWAMY writes from Sydney, Australia: Two years ago, I attended a reception for a Union Minister who had come to Sydney to make a big speech asking all NRIs to invest big in India and to attend the annual NRI yatra that was to be held at Bombay.

The Minister was expecting NRIs to queue up and pledge millions if not billions as was done by some Indians in Hong Kong and South Africa. He was most disappointed with the NRIs in Australia.

When question time came, the audience were suggesting to the Minister that for them to come to India to attend the meeting, they needed reduced fares in Air-India as well as free accommodation in Bombay!

I just chuckled and left the meeting convinced that the Government had it all wrong. As I was leaving the Intercontinental Hotel, I was confronted by a Group of Sardars who were yelling “XYZ murdabad!”. They asked me why someone like me would attend a meeting and listen to a murderer. (It was a Congress minister, for sure.)

If truth has to be told, my reading is that people living in India, especially the middle class, have a lot more spare cash than Indian NRIs. It is a myth that NRIs have a money tree growing in their back yards.

The majority of recent NRIs came abroad as students and started life with a huge mortgage hanging over their heads to do their undergraduate or masters degree.

As students they work about 20 hours a week, which is legal, in restaurants, car washes, telemarketing companies, petrol stations or as taxi drivers, just making enough to pay rent and food bills. This goes on for three to four years. During this period they feel home sick and visit family at least twice in four years spending whatever funds they have saved or money that they do not have by borrowing from friends.

At age 25, they get their first job, mostly in IT, let us say for a gross annual salary of $30,000 and a net take-home pay of about $2000 per month. All their focus in the next few years is all about getting permanent residence (as in Australia) or a Green Card in USA. Many have a masters in IT and work as tellers in banks or drive taxis as a full time job.

At age 30, the lucky ones get their permanent residence, while the unlucky ones return home broke or go underground, becoming illegal migrants living in fear of being apprehended and deported. Also around age 30, they get married to partners back home as arranged by their parents or find partners locally and live in de facto relationships.

With both partners working the disposable income at home is improved and round $3,000 and $4,000 per month. But then they have to rent a small two bedroom flat at $1,200 a month and the food bill comes to about $800 a month even if they are living frugally.

Then comes the urge to own a car and along with it come car expenses like registration, insurance, repairs and the fuel bills. Plus there are utility bills like gas and electricity, clothing and entertainment to pay.

By the third week in most young NRI households, all funds are gone and they are using their credit cards and waiting anxiously for the next pay packet.

In other words it is hand-to-mouth living for most young couples, in what is basically a Credit Card Society. There is no such thing as savings, especially with low interest rates it is just not worth saving anything in a bank.

At age 35, comes the first child and at 40, most Indians who value education enroll their children in private convent or grammar schools, with annual school fees being at least around $12,000 a year. Imagine having three children and having to fork out $36,000 out of the net income after tax?

At age 40 also comes the dream to own a property and a 25 -year mortgage with interest rates on the rise year after year. A mortgage that will not get paid off even when the man is 65 years of age unless he pumps in a lot more than the minimum required.

In the 1980s, the banks were pretty strict about who they gave out loans to. They looked at the employment record and your savings record and insisted on a minimum 25% as deposit. Today the outlook of banks is different. Banks are queuing up to give massive loans to young couples, knowing pretty well that these youngsters may not be able to discharge the loans.

House loans of the order of $35,000 to $50,000 are very common with minimum monthly repayments of about $1,500 to $2,000 a month. Last financial year alone the banks repossessed as many as 6,000 properties from young couples for defaulting mortgage payments.

At age 50, if one is lucky, he has done well career wise and has gone up the ladder to earn say $100,000 or $150,000 a year. It is only at age 60 that one may get a breather with children completing degrees and also working part time while studying. Mortgage and loans have been discharged.

It all flies so fast that you realise that retirement is staring at you and you have not put aside enough funds in your nest egg for retirement.

Add to this equation the annual or biannual trips back home to India to attend weddings, deaths, etc besides holidays. Let us not forget that 95% of NRIs are employees and mere wage earners. Then there are the unfortunate ones who get sick or lose their partners (mostly divorces) or even lose their jobs.

I am reminded of an NRI who died suddenly of a heart attack leaving behind a wife who had never worked and two young school going children.

The society at large believed the man was a well-to-do businessman living in a two-storey mansion in an upmarket suburb, with his children going to private schools, and he and his wife driving the latest BMWs.

Appearances can be so deceptive at times. Within a week of his death, both cars were leased were repossessed and within a month the house was on the market being auctioned by the bank. As for his flourishing business, well it was running at a loss and had to be would up totally.

While most friends sympathised, there was nothing any one could do to throw a safety net for this unlucky family. While this was the worst-case scenario, I am sure many are bordering on similar limits.

We then have another category of NRIs. Skilled workers like nurses, masons, carpenters, etc, who go to the Middle East. They earn pathetic wages, live in pigeon holes and live like slaves. They send money home for their wife and children, and save every penny to buy a property in their home town in India.

These are the NRIs who have boosted India’s economy as each and every one remits money on a regular basis. These people do not have an option of becoming citizens in the Middle East and have to return one day when their contract is terminated.

The Dinars and the Dirhams earned in the Middle East are much stronger than the greenback and hence the boom in real estates in States like Kerala.

Most of the NRI revenue to India comes from this group of people in the Middle East as compared to the NRIs in USA, UK, Australia, etc who have migrated for good and taken up citizen ships.

All it takes for an NRI to show off in India while on a holiday is an air-ticket charged to the Visa card, one thousand dollars (Rs 45,000) to spend, a few gifts for the family, and a video camera. If this is a family of four it will take them a year to pay off the holiday expense using the credit card.

We also have the oldies like me, professional doctors and engineers who migrated about 30 years or more.

Most of us oldies have spent half our life time in the country we migrated to seeking a better life. Our children were all born here and educated here and settled here for life. To our children India is another holiday destination and not the mother land as it is to first generation migrants.

Even when we retire we will remain where our children are and look forward to the grand children. Some of us may have our feet in both countries and there are others who have adopted the new country as the motherland.

The question is if the second generation Indians abroad are in fact NRIs. Most young NRIs born and brought up abroad, only associate with India when it comes to cricket but very little else and I do not blame them.

Given all this, now tell me how much money you can expect the million NRIs to plough into the 600,000 Indian villages?

It is unfair to assume that all NRIs are loaded and that they are tight with their money. The truth is that there is no money tree in their back yards. That NRIs are rich and loaded is a myth. Surely a small percentage have made big money but majority are just wage earners working for some one else.

The neo-rich NRIs have to show off to society how well they have done financially. It is a necessity to live in a posh suburb where real estate is expensive and to have an S-Class Merc or a couple of BMWs parked in the garage of a mansion with a swimming pool and a tennis court.

Try getting this class of Indians to adopt an Indian village and see what they have to say.

I believe the 300-million middle class people in India have much more spare cash than an average NRI.

Yes, I agree we need to do something to improve the wretched lives in the villages not by adopting villages or pouring your hard earned funds.

Charity, as we all know begins at home. If I have money to spare, will I give it to family members in India who are in financial strife or adopt some village ?

I do not believe in feeding the hungry fish but would like to teach them how to fish.

It is from this view point my batch mates have taken it upon ourselves to adopt a public high school in Alamathi village in Thiruvallur and teach them computers and graphics and web design. We also organise weekend coaching classes and the benefit is already showing in the school results of these children.

During my visit in 2004 we had these kids visit IIT Madras and I have made a pledge that the first student from this school who gets into IIT will be fully supported by me financially.

Here is a story that moves me and motivates me.

An army jeep driver returns to his village after 30 years in the army and finds that nothing has changed in his village and decides to do something about it. He is most definitely my hero and he is none other than Anna Hazare.

Last year we we had to raise Rs 1.5 lakh from our batch mates for the graduate dinner. Alumni in India were just as happy to donate Rs 5,000 as NRIs who donated US $100 each. Surely giving $100 from a $100,000 annual income (0.001) is much easier than donating Rs 5000 from an annual income of Rs 5 Lakhs ( 0.01)

I believe every individual should do whatever he is happy to and comfortable with. At age 60 most of us support one charity or the other. I am an ardent supporter of Jeevodaya in Madras which is a hospice for terminally ill destitute cancer patients and try to send Rs one lakh a year besides hosting the web site www.jeevodaya.com.

In Australia I support Salvation Army, Royal Blind society, Heart foundation and RSPCA by making a small annual contribution. My son Anand has adopted a child in Africa and sends money every month and this at age 23. I had nothing to do with this and I am most certainly a proud father.

Should I be adopting a village in India especially when I was brought up in the city of Madras ? I am not saying I will not but it seems far fetched.

If we IIT alumni are to give back something to society I do not think it is money but something tangible by using our collective brains.

(Thanks to Bhamy V. Shenoy)

34 Responses to “‘All NRIs aren’t quite as rich as you think we are’”

  1. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana Says:

    I appreciate and share his perception for the whole gamut of issues he has touched. I can vouchsafe for it for my son stays in America with his two children and I know it is a balancing act to take care of myriad of things, They have to weigh which airlines to choose when visiting India to see their parents for it is quite a drain on their resources. True, few have prospered, specially in medical profession but to genralise is to loose touch with reality.

  2. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    This article takes the other extreme view of the minister – that most NRIs live in near poverty. In my experience (which is of a recent vintage) most students who come to the US for their masters end up with decent jobs which sustains a middle class existence. There is enough disposable income to indulge in a few luxuries, or for the more disciplined, invest in assets back home in India. What is true however is that people in similar professions in India make the same amount of money in terms of purchasing power.

  3. Hanuman Says:

    My experience is that Indian ministers’ and civil servants'(IAS and IPS) sons and daughters who have come to study abroad have more disposable cash than myself who has lived in the West for over 30 years. I have come across a few central and state ministers’ sons and daughters driving BMWs while studying!! When an IAS officer’s son drew out a wad of dollars to buy items which were not on sale in a famous superstore in America, I nearly had a heart attack. During those days when Air India had very few competitions, one Air India’s regional manager’s two sons went for training at Boeing on all times of the year while their class mates were preparing for exams hoping for a better tomorrow. One of the sons ended as an area manager in America, and seemed to have unlimited expense money, thanks to favours rendered to NRIs anxious to visit relatives in India on short notice. A relative of mine who was a custom’s officer in Bombay once said to me that his ‘official salary’ is only a small fraction of what he called his ‘other incomes’. When asked what he was scared about, his said contrary to what you think -it was not the raid by anti-corruption squad, but a transfer to a fishing port like Cochin where he had to inspect some smelly cargos containing fish!!!

  4. vinay Says:

    With due respects to the author … looks like the minister wanted you to invest in India and not to get a lecture on how poor , pathetic their life is outside India. Pls dont send ur sweat money to India , there are some sincere tax payers who pay for health and education and we ( proud Indians) will get on with our life.

  5. Dheerendragopal Says:

    Excellant write up . The author was merely reflecting the other side of story . I think the urban population in India has more fluid cash than anyone . Inspite of all hardships on both side we can always donate something for a worthy cause in our own way .
    Not everything is rosy on the other side of fence that is what the author is trying to imply .

    Mr.Ram.K , Here in US if there is one family member earning for household then the conditions are no different than an average middle class in India . The salaries for any IT Consultant working in US ( if not for a desi company) is anywhere between 75K to 90K for someone with 5+ year experience and 100-150K for anyone with 10+ years experience .
    With that kind of salary the Indians are certainly better off than their american counterparts . Owning a Mercedes or a BMW is only to an extent of how materialistic you can get.

  6. C Says:

    The grass always looks greener on the other side. Perhaps it is greener (as in the colour of money) – how else can you explain the fact that every other Indian wants to work/settle abroad!

  7. Manish Says:

    Effortless writing to drive point home.
    I am 26year old and even I have lots of friends abroad.
    Author took extreme example to prove his view. I completely agree for unskilled workers but for skilled IT workers, it is not true at all. I am including friends who did Masters from abroad.
    A $2000 salary example would have been appropriate 10 years back but it is not true today.

    Yes, I accept that it is not always bright abroad but extreme example could be avoided (for IT workers especially).

  8. Global Voices Online » India: Child Abuse, The Other Half and NRIs Says:

    […] India? How do these Non Resident Indians (NRIs) live? Ram Krishnaswamy writes in Churimuri that not All NRIs Aren’t Rich: If truth has to be told, my reading is that people living in India, especially the middle class, […]

  9. Ram Krishnaswamy Says:

    I had written my article in response to a post in our group that suggested that there are over a million NRI’s and there are about 600,000 villages in India and the plea was that every NRI should adopt a village in India.

    This semed far fetched to me and it was in this context that I wrote what I wrote, suggesting that life is not all that rosy overseas when it comes to savings and having spare cash for charitable work in India.

    Ofcourse the western society still offers any one who wishes to migrate the freedom of choice to live as you wish and be respected as a human being. It is definitely a land of honey and milk and opportunities. I am not dissuading anyone who wishes to go abroad and away from all the corruption and struggle for survival that we face in India.

    It was after I wrote my article that I watched the movie “Namesake” directed by Mira Nair, which pretty accurately portrays the lives of most NRIs.

    NRI’s or RI’s happiness is the way we feel and not from what we possess and charity begins at home. Not every NRI wants to adopt an Indian village. All NRIs who earn oodles of money surely wish to invest the funds in real estate and the share market.

    If we take the current generation of Indian students who are migrating to do undergraduate studies in the west, rest assured they feel they were foced out of India for lack of better educational opportunities and the cut throat competition to get admission into decent colleges and the hefty bribes that have to be paid. For what reason should these youngsters feel indebted to give back to India ?

    Ten years from now the HRD ministerss proposed Reservation policy would have driven out of the country hundreds of thousands of youngsters. Should we expect them all to adopt an indian Village each ?

    “Let us be realistic in our expectations of NRIs” that is all my article should suggest.


  10. Kamla Bhatt Blog » Global Voices Roundup: Child Abuse, The Other Half and NRIs Says:

    […] India? How do these Non Resident Indians (NRIs) live? Ram Krishnaswamy writes in Churimuri that not All NRIs Aren’t Rich: “If truth has to be told, my reading is that people living in India, especially the middle […]

  11. Rekha Says:

    it seems like this article just so explains the situtaion of many NRI’S….am in Australia…may be am not sure of USA OR ANY OTHER…COUNTRIES…in here well 5% of students (to be fair and truthful)who have come here with just one dream…to clear the debts on their family backhome…IT professional …i dont think its the same situation for all ITS…if they are lucky they get …paid well if not they fill the under workers postions …..what this article may not apply to all…but it certainly is TRUE……….NOT ALL NRI’S ARE RICH…..WE ALL WANT TO HELP THE COUNTRY WE BELONG TO……IT JUST NEEDS A DOLLAR FROM EVERY PERSON….UNLESSS..ITS AN EXTRA DOLLAR…

  12. Mayank Says:

    I am a Masters student in Australia and i totally agree with you sir. Life as a student here is tough. We get only 20hrs of legal work and while working in restraunts and washing cars we can barely make up for our food bills. Contrary to popular perception getting full time jobs in your profession is not easy. You need Permanent Residency as proof in jobs (my field is electronics) and all this takes time. We have to pay for a steep tuition fee too. So i dont really beleive if I get the status of NRI in the future i’ll be any rich than a businessman in Delhi

  13. Bala Says:

    I realy enjoyed reading your blog, i needed some info on this subject for my new study economy in the USA and your post helped me out a lot thank you for that

  14. Rahul Says:

    Sir, I totally agree with you. Both the points about the Indian middle class having more savings and more money to spend freely and the next point about the Middle East workers being the ones sending money home are spot on……

    Just to clarify to some readers, it’s not as if NRI’s in the US lead poverty stricken lives. On the contrary, majority have a very decent middle class/upper middle class life by US Standards, however, their spending increases just as much and most of them don’t have much spare cash at any point of time, I have lived in India, Middle East and in America and the amount to which the american indians or lets say NRI’s have to budget and control every element of their spending is incredible…..the middle east of course, people regularly send money back as there only objective in working tehre is to save up money

    I feel it’s just the US, there’s always a bigger house to go for, there are always hidden charges, loans to pay off etc. but somehow I think today in terms of quality of life, its better for a educated and qualified young guy to stay back in India, keep in mind that when many immigrants to this country get married to a girl from India, she is usually not able to get a job here easily and does not bring home any income, I am seriously thinking of going back to India as I feel I will get a better deal, if u know what’s happening in India, I heard that this year out of the graduating computer science guys from IIT-Kanpur only 5 came to the US for higher studies while the rest all have taken up jobs in India, and this is a Department from which almost the entire batch used to come to the US for higher studies….

    I really feel that things are better now in India and earning in India would be better than living with compromises here……

  15. saurav Says:

    OK i am an NRI, 24 year old completed masters, got into a Job in US, earning 75K per year as next a developer but promised a raise of 90 K by next year.

    YOU KNOW WHAT, i just arrived here in india about a week back and even for a salary of 2,00,000 Rs per month..I would still like to go abroad…

    1. The pathetic regressive culture of India starting from family to rest of the public. Everyone is scared of asking questions, debates are frowned upon…what kind of culture is this in which truth is kep in the back burner

    2. The pathetic pollution levels….I swear any new kid born in this dump of 1 billion will surely suffer from some respiratory disorder if exposed 1 day in a month to pollutiion at rush hour traffics….

    3. The pathetic attitude….even the best of companies have worst employees ….proffesionalism is something unheard of in India…trust me in that….
    The fact remains private companies in india are no better than government ones

    4. All this boom and development is a LOAD OF CRAP….I have been to india 2 years before and trust me in this

    1. Infrastructure has gone from bad to WORSE. Tell me which country in 10 generations can ever develop whose Infrastructure is worse than sub saharan africa in some respects.

    2. lack of basic nessesity …medical care?..ever heard of that?….Clean water, clean air, 24 hour electricity?

    3. Population exploding…..some 1.6 billion people are going to occuppy this country of 1/3 size of US?…

    4. More than 900 Million people ..Yes 900 million people live on less than 2$ a day…..
    This is governments estimate…..actual figures are even worse.
    More than 350 million people live on less than 1$ a day.

    Just drive your scooter around the city to see the facts.

    The middle class which govt talks about (300 million) per capita income is about 10,000 Rs per month.

    Tell me in which of the metros can a person survive

    Yes there are rich people but very very few I would say about 20 million who earn between 50 k to 1 lakh per month.

    The future as I can see is dark .TRUST ME IN THAT

  16. Vivek Says:

    I am an Indian working in the IT sector in India as a developer.
    I reluctantly agree with many of Saurav’s comments above. The main reason ppl migrate to foreign shores is not only the money.

    Money is just a part of your life. There is a difference between Standard of Living and Quality of Life. The fact is that developed nations offer to their citizens a better quality of life, in terms of social security, infrastructure etc that makes them so lucrative.

    Ppl may say stuff abt – “You should be the change u want to see…” blah..blah…ad nauseum…

    But reality is, in today’s complex world, it is rarely, if ever, possible for any avg individual to turnaround an entire system. Citizens of the US/UK etc are not superior to us in any way…but it is their governance, which over a period of time has facilitated an atmosphere, in which merit is allowed to grow unfettered…

    about the “boom” stuff…it certainly is there in terms of real estate prices etc…but consider the following pts:

    1. I, an executive working in IT in a metro cannot afford an apt (costs upward of 35-40 lakks in ill-equipped fleabag suburbs)…but ppl who dont pay any taxes (businessmen, lawyers etc) have 5-6 houses …. whom is this boom helping???

    2. Infrastructure of Mumbai, B’lore etc is stretched to the max…I remember growing up in B’lore in the late 80s….we used to go for peaceful walks..not much traffic, pollution etc….life was going on well even then….in terms of Purchasing Parity we are the same even now….so whom is the boom helping???

    3. Roads are crowding with ppl everywhere…i see laborers sleeping on pavements everywhere…villages are pathetically behind cities in development…so where is the boom??

    4. I make 30K plus a month and i find it difficult to survive in a city like Mumbai (rent for a shitty 1-room hole is INR 7500-9000 in an apt near a dumpyard)…so apart from the boom in inflation rates, tell me what has actually improved???

    The best bet for any talented Indian is to “Quit India”….

  17. Arpan Says:

    Comparision between India and the west (US, UK, Australia and NZ) is impossible because it is like comparing two faces of a coin.
    If you consider your own self’s development, money, ever increasing salary, lots of material wealth, lots of avenues to increase wealth manifold in a short time through various legal and illegal means….then India is the country to be in.
    If you consider inner development, professionalism, trustworthiness, equality among all, quality education, quality services, quality material etc then the western countries is the place to be.
    If you value quantity over quality then India is the place.
    If you value rate of change of wealth over everything else then India is the place.
    If you wish to lead a balanced life where you spend 33% of a day at work, 33% sleeping/resting and the rest for yourself, family and friends then NZ/Australia is the place to be.
    If you wish to spend quality time with your own kids then stay away from India, because either servants or grandparents look after them. Where is the time for you?

    So it is one’s own scale of measurement that will decide which is the best place for him/her. A successful life is one that makes oneself happy and contented. One may be happy amassing wealth whereas family, children etc may make someone else happier. One may love “change” in every day of his life whereas a peaceful, tension-free life without too many twists and turns make someone else happy.
    India is a place of constant and big “changes” everyday. So people seeking “change” always would love it. Life is fast and exciting with pitfalls and hurdles aplenty.
    The west is a place of small measured changes. Not that exciting because of a life of monotone but still enjoyable with a safe, friendly and dependable society that is trustworthy and professional.

    If an NRI has no close relative in India, I don’t think he will like to visit India every 1/2 years. Even then the sole purpose would be holidaying, shopping and festivities. Whereas, given a chance, on an average most Indians would like to go abroad at least once. That too for the sole purpose of earning a quick buck in a short time.

    So in short the west is good for its own set of things and India for its own. An ideal job would be one which involves 6 months of staying abroad with salary in dollars and 6 months of staying in India with parents, relatives etc. preferably in a exciting metro city.

  18. Always Indian Says:

    Hey thats a nice eye opening article about NRIs. Im sure more people would be well informed now before hoping on to a plane abroad.

  19. SS Says:

    Dear Mr. poor IIT alumnus,
    You made the choice of leaving India. How is the minister’s call for money from NRIs any more or less opportunistic than your demand for the Govt of India to give you subsidized education at IIT so that you can move abroad?

    If NRIs don’t have a money tree, neither does the Govt of India.

    Also one wonders… if the Indian middle class has a lot more money than avg NRIs, I have to say that your choice of becoming an NRI was spectacularly stupid.

    So… grow up.. come out of the mindset that India is begging from you. The minister is just being astute … he wants more dollars for India and he is ready to do some emotional blackmail if that is what it takes. Its pure business… but then you are the stupid guy who went abroad to be poor.. aren’t you… what do you know about business?

    But I will try to explain. McDonalds is polite to every customer, but McDonalds owners are way richer than their average customer. Same way with India asking for your money.

    I have nothing against NRIs in general, just your type in particular who think they can give us advice on how to run our country. Also, since I am an NRI myself, a PhD and a product of one of India’s top institutions (I turned down IIT to enrol there..ha!), I couldnt possibly hate NRIs in general. I also have nothing against the US, which, in my opinion, is the world’s greatest nation and I really wish America well. But I am an Indian, an Indian first and an Indian forever and when you or anyone, resident Indian or foreigner or otherwise insults my country, I will stand up for her honour and dignity.

    Do you still hold the navy blue Indian passport with the four lions given to the CITIZENS of INDEPENDENT India? Or have you given it up and decided to become a SUBJECT of the British Crown living in the DOMINION of Australia?

    If so, I have to say you have made a lot of poor choices… first you picked being a poor NRI over being a rich middle class worker… then you gave up being a CITIZEN and became a SUBJECT… I pity you yaar…


    To Saurav:

    Dear NRI friend,
    hope you are comfortably ensconced in your 90k+ job by now. So sad to hear that my poor country is so worthless that you would not stay there even if you were getting Rs 200,000 + per month. But I will say this to you: GET A RS 200,000 PER MONTH JOB IN INDIA FIRST AND THEN TALK!

    Go try your luck…ask for Rs 200,000 for your measly masters degree in IT… and you will end up with a mighty kick in your backside.

    Let me guess; you came to the US masquerading as a PhD student for the financial support right? And then got out with a masters and went into IT? Have you considered the possibility that the predictions about India made by a lowly liar and charlatan such as yourself might be of very little value after all?

    Congratulations on becoming a middle class file pusher in America. Let me tell you some things about my country and its people. It might appear to a person such as you that Indians do not debate nor ask questions. That is because people at your level are usually not faced with issues requiring careful analysis. Yes… a lowly IT entrant need not think so much… your assembly line job is not as intellectually challenging as you like to think.

    If only more people in America understood that it is better not to speak up than to ask inane questions, there would be a lot fewer students lining up outside my office to “challenge” my view that they deserve a C-.

  20. ebuckbuck Says:

    Hi MR SS ..Kudos…

    After living here for 6 months i realize most of these NRI’s are living here in self denial only to disparage india at every opportunity to feel themselves good.I myself have a family here living since last 50 years now,only to be living in some ghost town driving BMW’s or a 5 star old age home..

    I used to earn 500,000 INR per yr in India a rocking life in bombay ,and now know what 500000 could buy in india a 80k USD cannot in US.Things just get plush here but overall means are just the same life…To say I have bigger house than india in US applies to having bigger in bombay than tokyo!!

    I am a astronautics and Space tech student and believe me.. in space, no ones making waves as india(chandrayan) .all my profs from JPL are amazed at the cost and one shot reliability of such a mission coming from a developing nation like india. APJ and Madhavan nair are new age poster boyz just as AR rahman for music(we are understated but know how to things in our own style).

    Well ,you cannot teach a pig to sing because it makes you angry and also annoys the pig!!

    India is marching ahead ..i am a product of India raised by parent who are Govt employees and thank them and country for a wonderful upbringing both financially and emotional.
    We as nation have been destroyed a hundered times and we ll build it again..101 times…
    all these metro’ malls highways…airports just took 10 years …imagine what can be unleashed in next decade or 2 in our lifetimes…
    Well send the next one to mars….

  21. naresh Says:

    Looking at the above comments it appears NRI’s in US are happy about being NRI and richer, Australia NRI’s are poor I guess.
    Mera bharat mahan.. whatevr it may.
    India has got its own identity and worth leading some time or full time there.

  22. Alia Says:

    Good day everyone,
    This I address to you rude well-meaning patriots: Please desist from insulting us NRIs. Some of us had no career options in India and our parents migrated to give us a better life – so things like occupational therapy and psychology are VALID career options for us

    What the author is trying to do is tell you that while our standard of living maybe higher, we do work, from age 15 till the day we die overseas. We obviously have strong family ties back home and money does flow into India via this method and by investments.

    HOWEVER, it is not fair to assume that we can give a higher proportion of our income than a middle-class Indian. Not fair at all. Until you’ve lived here for two-three years I wouldn’t recommend making fun of our good intentions.

    As for giving ourselves up to become subordinates to the British Empire, really, did we not deal with this attitude post-partition? British invaded, left us broken, divided, with trains, business outside of agriculture and more effective communication modes (no more kaboothar and speaking English). This is a very inadequate summary so forgive my insensitivity.

    What I’m trying to say is, there is give in take.So we choose to live in Australia/NZ. As Goans like to say “you have any problem? no? good. you lead your life peacefully, I lead my life peacefully. pooorawh!” (i.e. enough!)

    Please let us not fight against one another. We are Indians too and it hurts me deeply to see some of you forgetting this.

    Leaving national identity aside, we are all human beings. Can we not agree to disagree and instead of internet fighting, contribute to this cause in a realistic manner, by educating other people, holding community meetings, donating money to the appropriate causes, investing appropriately et cetera. You are not going to change someone’s mind by insulting them.

    That’s food for thought. I hope your day is pleasant and that your future interactions with NRIs are fruitful.

  23. mahesh Says:

    Thanks for the article. Its real story of most of Indians
    living abroad. But lets help our motherland by any means. Jai

  24. Atif Hussain Says:

    Oh you NRIs, you think life is miserable there? Its worse here in India.

    A dollar gives more in India than elsewhere, yes. But remember earning that same dollar is not possible in India. You’ll probably earn 20-40 cents, or if you belong to lower strata, much lesser. Then you realize a dollar elsewhere is much more worthwhile.

    India has its problems, some due to people’s attitudes, but also due to natural reasons. Unfortunately, India as a nation is not working fully to overcome these challenges. Add to it Indian work attitudes, and you can hire 10 indians for the cost of 1 american.

    I too am a product of the top-2 indian institutions, but decided to stay back to see India build. But it is a very unrewarding and self-deprecating. We aren’t gonna get better anytime soon, even till my children’s generation.

    We launched Chandrayaan cheaply just because of currency difference, nothing more. And for the boom, its mostly in asset pricing, and not much in labor pricing. In other words, GDP is going up, but standard of living is going down – things have deteriorated. Real estate has gone up to such an extent, driven by a lot of black money, that a house in bombay is way costlier than new york. Between the two, who wants to live in bombay anyway. So this real estate boom is gonna collapse, and collapse badly. Then you will realize, we are at the same place as we were in 1966 when the famine hit us hard.

    God save us!

  25. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Atif Hussain,

    One thing about the West (and developed countries elsewhere) is that ultimately talent and real skills are given more importance than irrational bluster and emotionalism.

    If you are from top-2 institutions, there is still time for you to get out of there and start making a real difference…

  26. Gaby Says:

    AG, Hullo to you from whichever planet you inhabit. Agreed the West is more appreciative of talent, but my friend, nepotism and favouritism is well and kicking everywhere- lokk at Osborne handling the pursestrings of her majesty’s realm!

    If Atif should want to escape it should be for better roads and job prospects, but be prepapred for minor dispapointments as well.

    BTW what are these top 2 institutions- not some code for IIT and IIM– aaarrgh….

  27. Abhi Says:

    Atif, If your sole motivation is to make money (which is fine), most likely you will get bored and come back after a few years.

    If you want a decent quality of life, fairness and some time for yourself, you go out.

    I have noticed that generally kids from rich and upper middle class do not like it and middle class kids like it.

  28. Anonymous Guy Says:


    I dont think you understood.

    ‘the West is more appreciative of talent’ – that is what matters. Minor disappointments are there in life everywhere, I dont think he is talking about that.

    I am not talking about some nebulous concept of corruption and nepotism which may exist everywhere. I am talking about Atif’s specific case where he stayed back in India while he could have easily gone abroad and contributed to society while getting back some reward for his work.

    Atif is writing through personal experience, I think I know who he is (the internet is not so impersonal sometimes!). He is a BTECH from IIT Kanpur computer science, worked in Indian companies when he could have gone to MIT or Stanford, then went off to IIM Bangalore (again a top 50 rank in CAT) and stayed back to be a researcher in IIM. At any point he could have walked into a top research institute anywhere in the world and done things which were appreciated and made a difference, which he didnt do.

    Read what he writes from his life experience and understand the anguish, before pointing to some unrelated thing you read/heard about in the media and doing some pointless hand waving.

  29. Gaby Says:

    I am sorry that you are twisting your tale a bit. You just didnt just say the West is appreciative of talent 9 in fact I said it). You made a bit of a rant of how the West gives more imprtance to talent than bluster. Sorry mate but the West doesnt give arat’s ass to any of that- all they want is cheap labour. I am not a raving nationalist and I live in the West. The only advantage of living in the West is superior infrastructure for quality of life.

    As heart wrenching as Atif’s professional life might have been ( via your imagination), there is nothing to say that he wont meet the same in ‘ the West’. I think your bland ( or even blind) reaassurance is more dangerous than my ‘ pointless hand-waving’.

  30. Anonymous Guy Says:


    You haven’t worked even for a day in India have you? Why did your father leave India?

  31. Gaby Says:

    mea culpa to that charge:)

  32. umesh yadav Says:

    I agree not all NRI’s are rich but not all are hand to mouth.

    The population is large enough now that there are NRI’s who are billionaires and others who are hand to mouth and of course the biggest crowd is in the middle one of people who live a comfortable middle class existence. Their wealth of course goes a lot longer when they visit India or decide to invest in India because of the overwhelming exchange rates.

    Generally every NRI living in the west will be financially better off living there as compared to if he/she lived in India. Applies universally to the average IT worker who came from Andhra or the cab driver who migrated from a remote village in Punjab.

    Also, money is but one part of life. Dont discount the benefits of living in a progressive western society where almost everyone has access to clean water, electricity, professional ethics, good housing, superb law and order, low to zero corruption, access to parks and recreation and a pollution free environment. Most who end up becoming citizens also avail the benefits of government benefits.

    I firmly thus disagree that the average IT worker in India is better off than his counterpart in the US. Can you compare making 12 lacs a year to making $100k year year . I also disagree that the average executive in India is better off than his counterpart in the US. Can you compare making 80 lack per annum to making $500k? Can you compare living in a 1400 sq ft 3 bedroom apartment in posh mumbai suburbs versus living in a 3000 sq ft, 6 bedroom house with a 8000 sq yard in palo alto.

    The marginal advantage that non NRI has is the luxury of dwelling in the abodes built by their parents for as long as they can until they can finally fund their own homes that after selling the homes that their parents built.

  33. Murigemma Says:

    I think the article was meant to be forNRIs true ,but some are facts.I live in Usa Inspite of many years of living here ,I feel things are have gotten very expensive mInsurances have gone up crazy,of course we ahve to pay the prize for leaving India and settling here.As for as health coverage,Clean life ,and other freedom it is very true.But raising the children is a big challenge,we have to accept them for whatever they become?
    But some NRIs who live hand to mouth here go to India and show off so much ,that is why people think Amercan Nris have lot of money not true,as we get older money become more required for health care and longterm health care which is very very costly,Bottom line if we want to be happy we will find happines whereever and in whatever we have
    God bless you all

  34. Dipuji Says:

    All general talk. USA Govt. reports say otherwise.

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