Young Indians say “Thanks – but, no thanks” to American dream

The golf course is in Bangalore
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For decades, the United States beckoned as the land of opportunity for bright, young Indians, lured by the prospect of prestigious university degrees followed by jobs on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley.

Indians have since 2001 been the largest foreign student population on American campuses, comprising around 15 percent of all international students at colleges and universities in the United States, according to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

But now, the economic crisis that has sent the U.S. economy into its worst recession in decades, has tarnished the sheen of the ‘American Dream’ for many Indians who are opting for university studies and career opportunities at home.

America’s loss may be India’s gain, analysts say, pointing to a ‘reverse brain drain’ that may see India reaping benefits for years to come as some of its smartest and most talented people put their energies into India’ economy, Asia’s third-largest.

“The brain drain has already begun to reverse. Now there are many magnets pulling the best talent. Before, the U.S. was where everyone wanted to go,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a U.S.-based Indian academic who has written a paper on the issue. India’s economy has boomed at around 9 percent growth in each of the last three years, lifting millions out of poverty and creating a generation of affluent and ambitious young Indians…

But as the global financial crisis has kicked-in, Indians are seeing greater opportunities at home, where there are more job openings, the cost of living is lower and modern amenities such as shopping malls and condominiums offer them a comfortable life.

“When I joined Duke four years ago, nearly every student talked about wanting to stay and work in the U.S.,” said Wadhwa, an adjunct professor at Duke University and a senior research associate at Harvard Law School.

Now the vast majority plan to go back home. A few want to work here to pay off their loans, but they don’t think they will be able to get jobs.”

With U.S. unemployment at a 26 year high, prospects at home appear better for Indian graduates as firms such as Warner Bros and IBM announce they will move jobs to India and other outsourcing hubs after laying off workers in North America.

Not so incidentally, IBM announced yesterday that they’re moving 5000 jobs to India.

RTFA. Anecdotal info and accurate description of what I would expect from an economy and education infrastructure that quite naturally becomes globalized. There may be political pushing and shoving in the process; but, it is inevitable, you know.

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