Previously, we listed a number of reasons which motivate Indians to return to India. Some of the motivating reasons are: (1) patriotic feeling, (2) family ties, (3) Indian traditions, etc. Yet there are a large number of people who feel strongly about returning to India, but cannot take the first step towards returning. In this article, we wanted to enlist some of the reasons which demotivates someone from returning to India. Again we ended up talking to a number of people who have made, or are about to make, the transition from abroad (USA, Europe, etc.) to India, and others who were keen initially but later decided not to return.

1. Lack of Professionalism in India — the ‘Sarkari naukri’ effect


Abhishek Sengupta completed his PhD in Economics from U. Texas at Austin. While applying for jobs in India from USA, he was a scheduled for an interview starting 1030pm US time (daytime in India). After waiting for 35 minutes for his interview, he received an email from his interviewer saying that the interview had to be rescheduled to another day for unforeseen reasons. Abhishek recalls that this lack of professional ethics on the Indian companies’ part was typical of his job-search in Indian companies. Frustrated, he decided he was better off looking for jobs in USA and has been working here for at least 4 years now.

2. Difficulty in Applying for India Jobs from USA — the ‘In-person’ effect


Many companies and institutions prefer to meet the candidate in-person before hiring. The practice of companies conducting interviews for Indians settled abroad over teleconference and video-chat is relatively rare. Even more frustrating is the requirement of some institutes of higher learning where they only accept physically submitted application forms (i.e. no online submissions).

Barathram graduated with a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2011. He applied for a faculty position at IIT, Mandi. For full-time faculty, the requirements included an in-person interview. He finally was able to get a 2-year visiting faculty appointment through teleconferenced interviews, and that was enough motivation to make his return trip to India. Yet many cases do not have such a happy ending, and many people’s wish of returning to India is cut short by the requirements of in-person interviews.

3. Habituated in Living Abroad — the ‘Interstate’ effect


After a few years of staying abroad, people get used to the life in that country — e.g. the well-maintained roads and Interstates, free high quality public schooling for children, no heat and humidity of India, lower pollution, etc. Once a person reaches that state, it becomes difficult to adjust to the life in India.

4. Corruption —the ‘ghoos’ effect


Closely linked to the point about lack of professionalism in India, is the fact that corruption is rampant in India. People may need to grease the palms of officials at different junctions in life e.g. when building a house, to secure admission in a good school, when starting a business, etc. On the other hand, the person staying abroad may be relieved of these extra burdens because of zero-corruption (at least at these levels) in those countries.

5. Kids born abroad — the ‘American Passport’ effect


Having kids abroad brings the problem of returning to India to a completely different level. In USA, a child born inside USA to immigrant parents gets American citizenship by default. But ferrying these kids back to India immediately after their birth may be a problem as they have not been immunized to the many allergens typical to India. Hence these kids may face health issues. On the other hand, if the kid spends a few years abroad and then returns to India, the kid might have developed a foreign accent, and may be ridiculed by schoolmates in India. (In an ideal world, accents should not matter, but we know that the truth is different).
[This article describes similar problems and how/when those problems were overcome]

6. Problems for women

In certain aspects, women may face more problems than men when it comes to returning to India e.g. safety of women is a more serious concern in India, single Moms may face stigma [as described in this letter], etc.

A very good article on the problems faced by returning Indians is also available at

Image credits

  • Lazy worker:
  • Corruption cartoon:
  • Telephonic interview:
  • Road junction:
  • American passport: