Thursday, June 14, 2012


A Conversation

A few days ago I met an NRI.

You know what NRI means, don’t you?

Of course you do – NRI means NON RESIDENT INDIAN.

Of course, there is a RESIDENT INDIAN friend of mine who jokingly says that NRI means NEVER TO RETURN TO INDIA.

On second thoughts, what my Resident Indian friend says has a ring of truth about it – none of my classmates who went abroad (mostly to the USA) for higher studies returned home to India. They all settled down in America. I think almost all of them are American Citizens now. So since they have relinquished Indian Citizenship and taken up citizenship of their chosen land (and now consciously and willingly pledge allegiance to their chosen country and not India) it may be apt to call them American Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) rather than NRI.

I met one such guy the other day. I was surprised that after enjoying the fruits of living abroad (in the land of opportunity and prosperity) for more than 30 years he still seemed to have a guilty conscience about leaving India (and “abandoning” his parents and loved ones – leaving them behind to fend for themselves).

I asked him a simple question: “Why don’t you come back?”

He gave me all sorts of excuses which were far from convincing (and in his heart I think even he knew it).

To cheer him up I told him the following:

1. No one forced you to go abroad (like the indentured labour sent by the British fromIndia to other colonies when thousands of Indians were transported to various colonies of European powers to provide labour for the sugar plantations). You migrated to the USA by your own free will.

2. In fact, when we were studying engineering in the 1970s, it was you who was desperate to go to America for higher studies and were running from pillar to post to get admission to a good university in the USA and arranging finances (scholarship and loan) when you were getting a good job in India in campus placement or in case you wanted to study more you could have easily got admission to the best of IITs in India. On the other hand persons like me stayed back in India despite having an excellent opportunity to go abroad to America – you know that.

3. Obviously you felt that America is a better place than India to live in. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble of migrating in the first place. If you wanted, you could have come back to India on completion of your studies. I am sure you would have got a good job here. But you continued staying there, relinquished Indian Citizenship and acquired American Citizenship.

4. Till now you have prospered in your adopted country and enjoyed the fruits of living in AmericaThe main reason you left India and migrated for “greener” pastures abroad was to have a “better” life since you felt that you could achieve that “better” life by migrating abroad rather than staying back in India. You have achieved your life’s aim. So, in hindsight, what are you feeling guilty about?

5. There is no need to have a guilty conscience about leaving India (and your near and dear one’s) for a better life abroad. Forget about us. Stop feeling guilty and enjoy the “better life” out there (the very reason for which you migrated).

6. And if you truly love India so much, just pack your bags and come back forever. But remember one thing. Come back because you really love India and honestly want to come back to your motherland and not for some selfish reasons of your own (materialistic, economic, career ambition, “greener pastures”, etc) 

My NRI friend smiled like a Cheshire Cat. I knew he was never going to come back. It was just a fake guilty conscience for our consumption.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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1 comment:

D.Nambiar said...

:)That's a cool expansion of NRI. It's mostly about Never returning to India. But now, more than ever, a good number of Indians are moving back to India. No more is India a land without opportunities.

And for those who chose to stay a little longer or decide never to come back, the guilt is always there; I guess you're right. :)