Asia-Pacific

Some Reflections on Non-Resident Indians' Proud Feelings Toward India: A Global Survey

India has a rich and unique cultural heritage, and its diverse population has managed to preserve 5,000-year old traditions by absorbing customs, traditions, and ideas from natives, immigrants, and invaders. (Photo: Manan Vatsyayana / AFP-Getty Images)

India is the seventh largest country in the world by geographical area and the second most populated after China. It has the largest democracy in the world. The economy of India is the fourth largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity with an over 8 percent annual economic growth rate. India has a rich and unique cultural heritage, and its diverse population has managed to preserve 5,000-year old traditions by absorbing customs, traditions, and ideas from natives, immigrants, and invaders. India's extraordinary cultural heritage has the characteristics of tolerance, resilience, and integrity. Many cultural practices, languages, customs, and monuments are examples of this amalgamation over centuries. Indian music is represented in a wide variety of forms and its classical music is very well received all over the world. The techniques of Indian Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine are so popular in various regions of the world that according to one estimate about 20 million people practiced them in 2003. These unique characteristics would make any Indian feel proud.

The powerful forces of globalization have given rise to a new paradigm in India bringing a number of new developments. For example:

"India has the third largest scientific and technical English speaking manpower in the world. Around 162 Indian universities award 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees annually. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (C.S.I.R.) runs 40 research laboratories, which have significant achievements to their credit" (N. S. Raghavan, "Knowledge Is Capital: Journey of Knowledge Enterprises," Daily News & Analysis).

Furthermore, India has become a major player in the world's lucrative software market and is also currently spreading the benefits of this through education to the Indian masses. It is also claimed that in the last 5-7 years, every high-tech company of the world has arrived in India. Consequently, Indian companies have started adopting a high grade of technology and many strategic industries are going for rapid innovation and modernization. The special changes have taken place in automobiles, electronics, steel, heavy engineering, and pharmaceuticals. Some Indian companies have gone global with a presence in 60 countries, including the United States, Europe, and China. India is one of the top 10 producers of bulk drugs in the world and 60 percent of its bulk drugs production is exported. India is the second-largest cement producer in the world with 110 million tons. The auto parts industry has emerged as one of the country's fastest-growing manufacturing sectors; this is expected to reach $8 billion in 2006. India's services sector growth rate has been very high too.

India is using brainpower rather than cheap physical labor or natural resources to leapfrog into the league of technologically advanced nations. Every high-tech company, from Intel to Google, is coming to India to find innovators. Leading the charge is Infosys, the country's first publicly listed billion-dollar IT company. Crop scientists are passionately pursuing GM crops to help feed India's poor. Some intrepid molecular biologists are pioneering stem-cell cures for blindness, while others have beaten the odds to produce vaccines for pennies. And the country is getting wired up as never before. Mobile phone networks have nearly blanketed the country and the Internet is even reaching remote villages. (See "India: Knowledge Superpower," Newscientist.com.)

Achievement of self-sufficiency in food grains has been one of the principal objectives of economic development in India and it is claimed that India stopped the import of food grains during the 1970's, after high-yielding varieties of grain helped bring about the "Green Revolution" when India's food production raced ahead of the population boom. Now a "Greener Revolution" has been introduced to meet its increasing consumption demands, and more poverty-targeted programs like "Mission 2007: Hunger Free India." The Indian economy is progressing at an 8.4 percent annual growth rate — second fastest after China; one percent of that growth comes from agriculture.

The above characteristics of India are also reflected in a recently released public opinion study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. (see "The United States and the Rise of China and India.") In that study, it was reported that both Asians and Americans view India's economic growth as a positive. Fifty-six percent of Chinese and 53 percent of both South Koreans and Americans say India's growing economic power is good.

There have been some negative characteristics of India on which Indians may not feel proud. One of them is corruption, which is also a global phenomenon. According to the Transparency International 2006 Bribe Payers Index, India is the worst performer in this area. Corruption is a major cause of poverty as well as a barrier to overcoming it. Corruption is rampant in more than 70 countries, according to the 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index and India lists high among such countries. (See "BPI 2006," Transparency International.)

Corrupt practices have sometimes put India in dire straits and many of its institutions like the police, the tax administration, educational institutions, and even the judiciary are labeled as weak. Political corruption is a very gray area, recently on a sharp rise in India and it affects the common man. Once a U.S. expert warned that as India developed and opened itself to global competitiveness, the country would need to gear itself against rampant corruption and fraud. The elimination of corruption and fraud leads to economic independence and stability. Entrepreneurship is the key to success. (For more on corruption in India, see "Political Governance System and Corruption in India.")

Another area of great concern in India is the low literacy rate of women. It has one of the lowest women literacy rates in Asia. It is believed that about 55 percent to 60 percent of women in India have only a primary education. It is also believed that there is only a 51.4 percent female adult literacy rate in India ("India: Education Differentials," The World Bank). This low level of literacy has a negative impact not only on women's lives but also on their families' lives and on the country's economic development. Numerous studies show that illiterate women have high levels of fertility and mortality, poor nutritional status, low earning potential, and little autonomy within the household.

After 60 years of independence, it is argued that India lags behind in superior infrastructure facilities, which are very essential for the country's manufacturing prowess and its burgeoning services sector, as well as for agricultural development. One of the reasons behind China's manufacturing sector "miracle" is its superb world-class infrastructure. Indian manufacturing contributes a mere 18 percent to the gross domestic product.

"How can manufacturing have a competitive transaction and transportation costs without fast lane roads, fast handling ports and airports, and power without outages? Can India match its infrastructure construction for bringing in manufacturing sector to a respectable percentage?" (I. R. Sharma, "Indra's Drishtikona.")

The total road length in India has increased significantly from 0.399 million kilometers as of March 31, 1951, to 3.38 million kilometers as of March 31, 2004, making the Indian road network one of the largest in the world. However, the road conditions, particularly of national highways, are very bad, which is the major cause for the inefficient transport system. India has a high shortage of power supply and is unable to meet the mounting demand in the country despite the fact that the power infrastructure is a high national priority now.

Recently, in a seminar, Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda said, "Infrastructure development has a crucial role to play if India is to sustain its high growth, which must become more inclusive as the country matures."

The Role of Non-Resident Indians

A non-resident Indian (N.R.I.) is an Indian citizen who has migrated to another country for various reasons. For tax and other official purposes, the government considers any Indian national who is away from India for a period of more than 180 days in a year, an N.R.I. In common parlance, Indian-born individuals who have become citizens of other countries are also included.

N.R.I.'s have been labeled with various titles, for example, non-returnable Indians, non-reliable Indians, not-required Indians, not-really Indians, non-respectable Indians, non-responding Indians, non-resident investors, Indian diaspora, overseas Indians, expatriates, etc. They are considered as ambassadors for Brand India in foreign lands. They try to remove a lot of misconceptions that foreigners have about India. They play a huge role in building the brand India. It is claimed that most of the time they try to highlight the positives instead of the negatives. N.R.I.'s like Lord Swraj Paul, Lakshmi Mittal, professor Jagdish Bhagwati, Nobel Laureate professor Amartaya Sen, VinodKhosla, Sabeer Bhatia, Kalpana Chawla, Gururaj Deshpande, Ujjal Dosanjh, Indra Nooyi, Rono Dutta, Rakesh Gangwal, Rajat Gupta and countless others who run successful businesses, or are C.E.O.'s of global companies, or intellectuals have elevated India's image in the world. They make Indians proud of being Indian and Indians bask in the reflected glory.

Jagdish Bhagwati, the noted economist, once remarked, "The psychology of N.R.I.'s who are trying to show their long distance patriotism is a very interesting phenomenon."

Recently, it has been observed that with globalization, Indians migrating to all parts of the world are creating their own identity with their achievements. The negative characteristics in our culture and economy are slowly fading away. For example, the Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T.) is today considered a brand name and as highly respected in certain American circles as M.I.T. or Caltech (California Institute of Technology). The N.R.Is have developed a reputation of being the most accomplished and educated of the minority groups in various countries. Therefore, they are treated with more respect as a result, so is India.

There are over 20 million N.R.I.'s living in different regions of the world. Figure 1 shows that more than 44 percent are concentrated in Asia, the Middle East, and Australia and New Zealand, and approximately 26 percent are in North and South America. This is a significant population that is talented, resourceful, and quite sensitive toward the developmental issues. A majority of them are technically qualified people who immigrated to other countries for various reasons and have been playing a key role in transforming the socio-economic environment.

Figure 1: Geographical spread of N.R.I.'s around the world.

The above N.R.I. population has also been contributing to India's socio-economic development in various ways, particularly, the doctors, engineers, educators who have contributed significantly by opening up hospitals, educational institutions, and N.G.O.'s and setting up businesses. It is claimed that many of the senior executives in big corporations of the world have been instrumental in influencing outsourcing-related decisions in India's favor.

"'As the networking and mentoring role of Diaspora increases, India will continue to retain the edge in outsourcing,' the [World Bank Institute] study said … Many of these professionals started their own companies in India while others convinced their companies to hire Indian IT professionals. This provided more visibility to the Indian talent pool and resulted in the strengthening of the Diaspora" ("N.R.I.'s From U.K., Canada to Help India Retain B.P.O. Edge," Indiainfo.com).

Furthermore, it is also claimed that as there are a number of successful and influential N.R.I.'s in so many countries, their presence also becomes a source of direct support for India in messaging the positive attitudes and Indian governmental policies to those countries through their influence. Similarly, N.R.I.'s have distributed themselves abroad in most countries, developed and developing. They have contributed their skills and savings to the development of these countries. Probably, they have surpluses that India requires for its development and this creates interests and direct investments in India.

Today, India has a substantial foreign exchange reserve of $1.1 trillion. Remittances from N.R.I.'s, particularly from the Middle East, has contributed significantly to this reserve. The remittances from N.R.I.'s into India exceeded $23 billion during 2005-2006 as against $21.7 billion in the previous year. Consequently, from time to time, the Indian government has been urging the state governments to take specific measures to attract N.R.I. investment in priority areas, especially in the infrastructure sector (Manoj Kumar, "States Told to Woo N.R.I. Investment," The Tribune).

Realizing fully the key role the N.R.I.'s can play in accelerating the pace of development in the country beyond remittances, which have been instrumental to a large extent in stabilizing the balance of payment situation, the government has offered a number of incentives to them. For example, several initiatives were taken to attract N.R.I. investments in industry, shares, and debentures. They are allowed 100 percent investment in 34 priority and infrastructure facilities on a non-repatriation basis. At the same time, approval is provided automatically on investment in certain technical collaborations. They can also buy Indian Development Bonds and acquire or transfer any property in India without waiting for government approval. The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act has been amended to permit N.R.I.'s to deal in foreign currency. They can also bring in five kilograms of gold. Additionally, there are programs to utilize the scientific and technical talents of the N.R.I.'s with the help of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Apart from granting dual citizenship, now, there is a full-fledged Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to serve the N.R.I.'s in a more effective way.

Recently, there have been a lot of discussions on N.R.I.'s to the effect that once they leave India in search of green pastures, for example, to North America and Europe, they start berating India. There are quoted and unquoted remarks about N.R.I.'s such as "what do N.R.I.'s know about India as they talk developmental issues on India while they are sitting e.g. in London choking over their Starbucks Mocha or are busy in shopping around in Dubai malls." Further, it is also said that when N.R.I.'s make short visits to India they often criticize its systems and practices and compare them with international standards rather than local standards. Similarly, resident Indians not agreeing with their ideas may start picking on them and argue "you are an N.R.I., what do you know about India" and may be otherwise condescending. Therefore, influenced by such contentious discussions, I have conducted perhaps the first global survey of its kind on N.R.I. attitudes examining "what makes them feel proud of India" and their other perceptions of contemporary India and then disseminating the same to their fellow Indians in the home country.

Objectives of the Survey

This survey intends to capture the perceptions of N.R.I.'s from around the world on a commonly raised question: what makes them feel proud of India in its today's changing scenario? The basic intention behind this survey is to generate more interest and awareness toward the rapidly changing Indian economy and society and to know how much India means to them in terms of emotional terms. Specifically, the survey touches on two areas: (1) the main characteristics and achievements of India which attract them to express their pride in the country and also to see if there are any significant differences across regions, and (2) the non-achievements or other areas in which they may hesitate to express pride for India and also to analyze the differences in their perceptions across regions.

Methodology

The survey follows an online convenient random survey technique. The participants were selected randomly from a number of sources whose e-mail addresses were publicly available, for example, Hindustan Times online (People Speak), Indiagrid.com Web site, the Network of Indian Professionals: North America, various N.R.I.'s Web sites, N.R.I.'s Associations, N.R.I. Diaspora, Indian Associations in the Middle East, etc. In such a survey, it is not easy to establish a universe for the respondents. A total of 1,441 e-mails with an attached copy of the questionnaire were sent to N.R.I.'s around the world representing 29 countries.

The survey was conducted with the help of a questionnaire using a two-stage Delphi method. Initially, a number of N.R.I.'s from around the world were asked for their opinions on what were the 10 most important achievements and characteristics of India that might strongly urge N.R.I.'s proud feelings towards India. Also, they were asked to provide a sample of five negative characteristics/non-achievements that might cause them to hesitate to say so. Fourteen N.R.I.'s agreed to offer their opinions in this regard and they expressed a variety of statements. Based on my judgment and interaction with other knowledgeable people on this topic, those statements were then summarized. Later on, the same N.R.I.'s were requested to provide their agreement or disagreement on the statements. After a two-stage process, the questionnaire was developed. In the third stage, the questionnaire was sent to 10 N.R.I.'s located in Asia, Australia, the U.K., the Middle East, the U.S., and Canada for testing purposes. Only six of them responded. Based on their feedback, the questionnaire was improved. The responses of these six N.R.I.'s were excluded from the final responses. The responses were measured using a Likert scale, from Strongly Agree (5) to Strongly Disagree (1).

Out of 1,441 questionnaires sent out, 102 bounced back. Twenty-eight respondents stated that they were no longer N.R.I.'s and a further 44 stated that they had not visited India and would not answer the questionnaire. Therefore, the response rate was 12.1 percent. The usable questionnaires were 90 (7.1 percent) and were received from 26 countries. Here, I would like to add that there might be some element of non-response bias particularly from North America where more than 655 e-mails were sent, whereas 229 e-mails were sent to N.R.I.'s living in the Middle East. In order to increase the response rate, about 25 percent of N.R.I.'s were sent reminders after three weeks of the first emails sent to them. A breakdown of the responses by country is presented in Table 1 (below).

Table 2 (below) shows the characteristics of the respondents and their geographical distribution. It is clear that most of the respondents were highly qualified as 52.2 percent of them had post-graduate and higher degrees. Moreover, more than 51.1 percent of them were executives and managers who may have better understanding and knowledge of the fast changing socio-economic scenario of India. Over 50 percent of the respondents were aged 36 to 54, again a very mature group of respondents.

A perusal of Table 2 (below) reveals that the respondents more or less represented both developing and developed countries. Over 31 percent of respondents live in the Middle East region and 26.7 percent in U.S./Canada/U.K. A response rate of 8.2 percent from U.S./Canada/U.K. may reflect an apathetical attitude of N.R.I.'s towards India in showing less interest in its developmental affairs, despite the fact that more than 45.5 percent of the questionnaires were sent to those countries. Does this reflect a negative attitude or less proud feeling toward India? Perhaps this may be explained by the fact that the luxury life style and individualistic cultural values may have influenced them in not responding or showing less interest in India.

Responses

Table 1: Number of questionnaires sent and received by country.

Table 2: Characteristics of the respondents.

Table 3: Responses on the characteristics that strongly make N.R.I.'s feel proud of India.

Table 4: Responses on the characteristics that make N.R.I.'s hesitate to feel proud of India.

Table 5: T-tests by respondents' characteristics that make them feel proud of India.

Table 6: T-tests by respondents' characteristics on the statements that make N.R.I.'s hesitate to feel proud of India.

Table 7: One-way ANOVA by respondents' characteristics and the statements on which they may feel proud of India (F-ratio).

Table 8: One-way ANOVA respondents' responses by their characteristics on which N.R.I.'s may hesitate to feel proud of India (F-ratio).

Findings

Areas of characteristics/achievements that make N.R.I.'s feel proud of India:

The Cronbach Alfa Coefficient, which measures the reliability of the instrument in terms of internal consistency, was 0.578 for the 10 statements.

Table 3 shows that, on an overall basis, N.R.I.'s strongly feel that (1) "the history and rich cultural values of India," (2) "India's third-largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world (technical human resources)," and (3) "technology, software, and other developments" are the three main achievements/characteristics which may make them feel proud of contemporary India. All the three variables received more than 80 percent of the responses in this global survey of N.R.I. attitudes. It seems that although, India has certainly modernized to some level of most Western countries, most of the N.R.I.'s still take pride in Indian customs, traditions, and cultural values for the simple reason perhaps that it is the only country in the world with multicultural diversity, immense demographics, and many ethnic communities living in peace. Many of them stated, "India has a long history of secularism of which we have reasons to be proud. When we look at the promise of India, we are looking at the past of India, and a part of which we have much to be proud of." One respondent from Europe remarks in this regard that "it is not uncommon to hear people talking positively about India and frequently, there are very good reports on India along with criticisms too about its culture, people, and rapid development."

However, when data was analyzed by specific groups of the respondents (Table 5), there were significant differences on "the history and rich cultural values of India," among the respondents from developed versus developing countries (P <0.01), Middle Eastern region versus rest of the world (P<0.01), Asia/Australia/New Zealand versus rest of the world (P<0.05), U.S./Canada/U.K. versus rest of the world (P<0.05), and by gender (P<0.05). One N.R.I. from Canada who seemed to be a little skeptical about the above claims:

"The investors will come because India is in a selling mood and this will last a long time. I belong to a minority which is concerned with the essentials of culture, which is not the priority of the elites and of the middle class. That is why I view India as a cultural failure."

Perhaps, this is a reflection of a stereotypical N.R.I. point of view on India's perspectives.

It appears that there is general consensus among a majority of the respondents that India has achieved one of the largest pools of scientists and engineers in the world. And they strongly feel proud of this.

Furthermore, Table 3 reveals that 57.7 percent of respondents agreed that they feel proud of India because of its recently impeccable achievements made in "technology, software, and other developments." It is interesting to note that 26.6 percent of the respondents, mostly from U.S./Canada/U.K., strongly agreed to this achievement. The reasons may be that most of the Indian technical personnel have immigrated to these countries. Most of inflows of the outsourcing activities to India come from these countries and they have been the main beneficiaries from India's software development work and other related developments.

Additionally, the respondents were also aware that India has one of the largest entertainment industries in the world and that international recognition of India's economic and military power (for example, its ability to compete with China and the EU) also motivated them to think positively about India. Many of them are Bollywood enthusiasts. Perhaps the effective promotion campaign by Bollywood film producers and artists and the reach of the International Indian Film Academy (I.I.F.A.) in several countries have created a big impact in the minds of the N.R.I.'s. However, there is also a significant difference of opinion among the respondents based on the number of years they have held their N.R.I. status to the claim that India has the largest entertainment industry in the world.

"Bollywood cannot compete with Hollywood in producing technically high quality movies," One respondent remarked.

There is also a lack of general consensus among the respondents on India's claim that it has achieved "self reliance in food grain/agricultural industry," which received seventh ranking in the order. Also, significant differences in their perceptions were observed when the responses were analyzed by developed countries versus developing countries, Middle East region versus rest of the world, and Middle East/Turkey/Malaysia versus rest of the world. It is surprising to note that there are even differences of opinion among the respondents from the Middle East despite the fact that this region is one of the main importers of Indian foodstuffs. It looks as though there may be a lack of effective promotion by the agencies of the Indian government and media in producing the food statistics related to self-reliance in food grains.

In open-ended comments, several respondents provided other characteristics/achievements that made them feel proud of India, for example, India's stands for peace among the world community, its strong democratic institutions like the judiciary, its major tourist attractions in India (Yoga, Ayurveda, cultural colors, scenic beauty, food, Mt. Everest and the Ganges River), the upgrading of all its airports to the international standard, etc. On the other hand, some provided suggestions, for example, strong governance and long-term improvements are required, and the people to change their mentality to give India a global edge.

Last but not least, one respondent from Singapore stated:

"India is a country of diverse nature and culture. It has many tourist attractions, such as wild life parks, elegant palaces, pilgrimage centers, hills, historical monuments, etc. But, in order to market this, we must improve our infrastructure facilities, cleaning, hygiene, public utility services, and awareness among citizens on good manners, and a favorable treatment towards tourists."

Areas on which N.R.I.'s hesitate to feel proud of India:

The Cronbach Alfa Coefficient for these five statements was 0.623.

Some have argued that people who leave India, for whatever reasons, in search of greener pastures in the U.S. and Europe, start to berate India. The so-called educated group with postgraduate degrees or doctorates are the most vocal about highlighting the negative aspects of India even when they are in another country.

"They even try camouflaging their India identities under Americanized names. They forget it is India which gave them that edge for what they are now and where they stand" (Gautami Tripathy, "Excuse me, what have you got to say for yourself?").

Furthermore, it is also argued that N.R.I.'s do discuss a lot about India's poverty and other social evils prevalent in its social, for example, they often talk about a lack of work ethics, a lack of discipline, the level of corruption and labor organizations, etc. Others argue that there are many N.R.I.'s or even Americans and Canadians of Indian origin that may not be proud of India because they may be in the minority in those countries (Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya, "An Open Letter to an Ex-ABCD.").

Some intellectuals are also critical on certain aspects in which the reality may be different. For example:

"Whether Indians like it or not, most N.R.I.'s are not interested in marketing India. This is not because they are ashamed of their origins but because most N.R.I.'s are preoccupied with their personal lives and, as they assimilate into new societies, they develop a greater level of interest in advancing the interests of their host nation than the interests of the country of their origin. One can debate whether this is right or wrong, but that is a separate issue. Many N.R.I.'s in America are, at heart, more American than Indian, although most may not admit it or even realize it fully … and scholars are not marketing agents" (John Laxmi, "India Is Victorious, Not a Victim," Rediff.com).

Therefore, being influenced from such often quoted and unquoted criticisms about India by N.R.I.'s, five statements were included in the questionnaire to seek their perceptions. Among the five variables tested in this survey, N.R.I.'s strongly perceive that (1) lack of basic infrastructure, 60 years after independence, (2) unscrupulousness and hypocrisy in the Indian's way of life (for example, gross inequities and prejudices that are still prevalent in some Indian life, big gulf between rich and poor, etc.), and (3) corruption in the governance and administrative system (for example, look up the most corrupt countries index). These are the areas or characteristics which may cause them to feel less proud towards India. Many of them quoted the example of China, which has made comprehensive progress on all fronts: poverty reduction, literacy, gender empowerment, food surplus, and rapid industrialization because of excellent infrastructure facilities developed over the years. In this regard, Ashish Dhawan of Chrys Capital, Mumbai, once argued, "India has very good software in its people and very bad hardware in its infrastructure. There is a feeling that India will be left behind if it doesn't improve its infrastructure — it has no choice" (Julia Hanna, "India Arrives on the Global Stage," Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin).

However, a significant difference (P<0.01) in perceptions was observed in respect of "lack of basic infrastructure, 60 years after independence," when responses were analyzed by respondents' profession. Respondents having executive positions have certain concerns about these claims. Many of them feel that some infrastructure development has been made by India particularly in the public sector and the development of railways. India is way ahead in this area in comparison to many developing countries. On other hand, some also believe that without doubt that there is corruption everywhere in India from top to bottom; but with the advent of privatization and the computerization of public services, it is being slowly controlled. Some of them are more wary about the political corruption prevailing in India making the common man the biggest sufferer.

Furthermore, N.R.I.'s, in general, seem less concerned that "tribal, caste, religious discrimination still prevails (all Indians are not equal?)" and "female education, and their sustainable role in development is still not fully recognized" may not make them feel less proud towards India. Perhaps, in their perceptions, these areas have been receiving good attention at times and their concerns in those areas are decreasing. Differences (P<0.01) in perceptions of respondents living in the Middle East region versus the rest of the world were also found to the statement "unscrupulous and hypocritical in the Indian's way of life." It seems that some N.R.I.'s carefully nurtured a dislike of India for some of these characteristics. For some N.R.I.'s, these five characteristics of India may be barriers for international investors, therefore, the government of India must give high priority to removing these negative characteristics or images of India.

In open-ended comment, some of the respondents, particularly executives, argued that in order to lessen these negative areas , "India needs good managers and discipline everywhere. Politicians should have a minimum of postgraduate degree and there must be a strong environment consciousness should be awakened" Another respondent from the U.K. remarks that though India is marching very fast in economic areas, still uncleanness and bribery will not disappear from India. Similarly, one respondent from the Middle East region comments, "It is very regrettable to note that our political leaders often play political games on religion and create hatred among our own people which leads to violence that brings more misery to the poor and underprivileged people." Such happenings really make us feel less proud of India.

One respondent said, "National pride is required for improvements in basic infrastructure." Another said, "Most of the people are losing meaning for real life and happiness that makes me really sad. Majority of Indians, I meet overseas only work to live, are too much money minded, confused, over confidant of India, disrespect to other culture by saying that Indian culture is the best." Similarly, another from Singapore said, "India is always 20 years behind the times because of corrupted politicians and criminalization of politics unless follow to Singapore policy," and "Indians are not bold enough to voice for their needs in an international arena which is a major drawback."

Conclusions and Implications

From this survey, it appears that some of the N.R.I.'s living particularly in highly developed countries of the West, have less interest in India's socio-economic-political scenarios and a somewhat less favorable attitude. It also appears that due to the luxury lifestyle of the West, they may measure the achievements of India from international benchmarks and not from the local standards. Consequently, their interests in India may lessen due to liberal cultural values and lifestyles. Since many of them are considered to be non-returning Indians, they may have an interest but not much enthusiasm about India. However, it also seems that N.R.I.'s living in developing countries of the Middle East region and Asia, who have more probability of either visiting India frequently or are likely to return, may have somewhat more interest in feeling proud toward India. These N.R.I.'s have unique characteristics because they will be hardly naturalized in this region. The recent batch of Indians in the Gulf (that is, ones who have been here for about 20 years) have a stronger bond because technology has made India much more physically and emotionally accessible to them and others also.

It is not very surprising to us that the survey findings rank one "the history and rich cultural values of India" because Indian spirituality, cultural values, and techniques of traditional Yoga have been exported to Western countries, and practiced by many. Furthermore, in the last decade or so, there has been a rapid exodus of highly technically qualified Indians to the West, which might have influenced them to rate "India's third-largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world (technical human resources)" as the second important variable that makes them feel proud towards India. As large number of countries are users of Indian software development products, this might have influenced them to rank it third in the order.

Lack of infrastructure facilities and corruption as well the inequalities and prejudices that are still prevalent in certain segments of society may make them reluctant sometimes, to feel proud of India. As one of the respondents put it, "due to over population and growing problems of unemployment in the homeland, more and more Indian youths tend to migrate to the Middle East and Western countries. . But the plight of majority of the Indian workers abroad is pathetic, especially of those working in Gulf. Illiteracy, less concerns for cultural values, bad manners (e.g. spitting and throwing rubbish around), language deficiency, lack of knowledge of rights and laws are common characteristics of unskilled labors and they are subject to exploitation. All this make us less proud and this needs to be corrected through education and awareness programs. I am dreaming of future when and where there are no Indians have to go abroad seeking jobs or at least be in a better position to not to settle down for poor paid jobs and they are respected everywhere."

One important question that needs to be examined in a future survey is whether N.R.I.'s can make a difference in India politically, socially, economically, and spiritually. What they need to do is to take a leadership role in identifying the long- and short-term projects uniting people and enhancing the economy. As someone once suggested whether they can form an N.R.I. political party in India because the voice of N.R.I.'s in Indian politics is silent. Can the N.R.I.'s contribute to the achievement of the three visions of the President Abdul Kalam: a respect of freedom for others, India's economic development, and India's standing up to the world?

Furthermore, one crucial question that remains to be seen is whether N.R.I.'s can contribute to achieving the goal, recently set by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to make India a global manufacturing hub or workshop as well as a center of innovation. At the same time, the Indian government will have to remove or at least curtail all procedural wrangles, taxes and other laws in order to attract investment and other direct participation of N.R.I.'s into India so as give them a high sense of feeling proud toward India. "As investors, N.R.I.'s can be tapped for all sectors of the economy that need funds. For example, an N.R.I. will invest in a road project if the returns are good. Given the global slowdown and lack of investment opportunities abroad, if small policy and administrative hassles are removed, N.R.I.'s will flock in both as entrepreneurs and as investors" (Indrajit Basu, "N.R.I.'s: Not Part of the Indian Family Just Yet," Asia Times).

Furthermore, it is suggested in order to create more interest and participation of N.R.I.'s in Indian affairs, the Indian government and its various agencies need to launch more awareness programs through seminars, conferences, cultural exchanges, instituting a number of achievement awards and recognition for NRIs. Indian media particularly the Satellite Television Channels should start special programs for N.R.I.'s news, views and other affairs in order to generate interest and a feeling of pride for this country, so that they can play a more positive role in India like non-resident Chinese have played a major role in economic development of China,

Limitations of the Survey

This survey on N.R.I.'s is more of a pilot type of study. One of the main limitations of the survey is that a convenient random sample was selected, and it cannot be claimed that the sample is representative. This survey may suffer from a low response rate and the non-responding attitudes of many N.R.I.'s specifically from North America or developed world, may be underrepresented. There may be some response bias too. Considering the sensitivity of the survey, it is also possible that some of the respondents gave information-less or noncommittal answers because a few of them responded in the neutral range of the Likert scale. Therefore, the findings are some reflections of N.R.I.'s perceptions and not conclusive, which may lack generalization in light of the above and other limitations.

Acknowledgements: I am thankful to my daughter Sweta Joshi, an electrical engineering graduate, in assisting me in this study by searching for e-mails of hundreds of N.R.I.'s from the Internet. I am also grateful to all N.R.I.'s who participated in this survey and offered their valuable comments.

Appendix

Questionnaire

What Makes You Feel Proud of India? Perceptions of N.R.I.'s From Around the World.

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Prem Lal Joshi.

Advertise with Worldpress.org