Saturday, January 14, 2006

Privilege of an NRI

January 14, 2006
Vasu Reddy from Chicago

In the past few weeks as in most of the last few weeks of December every year, the planes are busy with folks going to India and coming back. Be it Chicago, be it Frankfurt, be it Hyderabad or be it London, the planes are bustling with Indians going and coming. Lot of people are traveling and at the same time and a lot of their families are also going back and forth and adding to the big crowds at every airport that has a flight to India. No matter what airline and no matter what airport, lots of our folks are getting on planes. Travel is cheap, and the families are larger and the numbers are bigger. All of us, with NRI status and our families simply go back and forth and can afford this long journey much easier than the olden days. I mean olden days simply because, a phone call was a luxury in the days when we had smaller NRI population, but I believe a reported 1.4 million people of Indian origin now living in USA, and their extended families equally big if not bigger than the reported 1.4 million, along with huge numbers of people working in IT consulting jobs on temporary permits obtained by their companies, we have a sizeable number of our people who are occupying almost every seat on the planes going back and forth to India. Every one of us should believe that we have worked hard for their personal privilege of their success.

Non Resident Indian (NRI) is no longer a stranger to the world. They have the money and resources to yield the economic power, and command respect of the global community. Business and education, jobs and power, wealth and travel, along with name and fame are all part of parcel of what NRI has achieved, as with many an immigrant communities have done so in the United States and the West. It is a privilege to be recognized in the global community for the success of a nation’s people who work hard and contribute to their adopted lands. I am quite proud of belonging to the community of great achievers. By and large the members of the Indian community outside of India are hardworking and well mannered. The aspect of family and friends continue to be a big part of our community aspect, despite the distance we live away from our motherland.

The NRI also is quite visible in India with their contributions to the political process, business establishment, individual investments in homes and farms, building hospitals, schools and whatever their affordability to help with the perceived need of our country. For name and fame, no better way to contribute back to the society where we originally come from, and spending our holidays in India gives the motherland much needed tourism dollars and the local economies the benefit of the purchasing power of the dollar. Its great to see the NRI community spend money in India, and build things in India with their earnings from hard work abroad, and increasing the awareness of the multinational aspect of living. It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to move freely from India to wherever the NRI lives, and be able to participate in the growth of both places.

The additional privilege is that our motherland represents a place of great dignity that respects the NRI achievements and invites the NRI to be a part of its rapid growth. India needs help to grow at a much rapid pace than that of the west to bring basic amenities to its citizens, and keep creating jobs and opportunities to become a place where simple things are affordable. Water, power, transportation, communications, education and housing are continuing to be in great demand for the billion plus people in India. NRI community can help with the developmental aspects of the national needs without the need for any additional recognition to support the development. NRI already has the money and abilities, and their special skills (along with their money) need no further privileges in India, as the very privilege is to be a part of the community that is their homeland.

Awards and honors are not needed to help, especially when you can. They are reserved for outsiders, who seek recognition for their work. NRI is not a stranger, rather a part of the community fabric of India. What better privilege than a nation of advancement and rapid growth? The ability to contribute is a privilege. It’s becoming a native in America that has made the NRI the success story that is well documented, so it must be easy to do the same in India without any additional privilege.

When we travel to India, there is certain amount of anxiety (with water for me especially) with what will be the conditions that await us. Its alright to feel anxious about the time it will take to get from Chicago to Hyderabad, and weather we will get a cart that will fit those huge bags. It is all right to imagine if the first breakfast will have our favorite snacks, and plenty of them. It is OK to think if people are available and old friends still in town. It’s all right to make plans for spending time in places we grew up in, and thinking if they have changed. Just about all-personal anxieties are simply things we are used to and wanting them to be unchanged. But why expect privilege to be a part of growth of the nation if you can help with its development.

If every NRI returning to India and making an investment into it seeks privilege to its system, the country will be a place of discontent and cannot afford to develop a plural system. All things may not be right with the current system of working, but to create a system that differentiates its own people because of the wealth factor or contribution factor, it will become a bigger bureaucracy that it already is. If a system of NRI privilege is created, then it becomes a system of classes that has more money than the others, and only when privilege is given contributions are made. Isn’t that what we all campaign against everyday and why should we need any special system for helping when we can?

There is no need for special cells, there is no need for even calling an Indian person NRI, there is no need for making special allowances, there is no need for free permits, or any other privileges to NRI or anyone else who can afford to do things the same way as rest of the citizens. The community doesn’t need to bring in one more class of people who claim privilege to the workings of the nation, and add additional burden to an already needy environment. The patience to wait in line, the ability to survive in strange lands, the opportunity to contribute to ones own nation, the tenacity to be successful and the status of an NRI is already a global privilege. We don’t need any more privilege.

The best physicians, the best builders, the best engineers, the best bankers, the best communications experts, the best money managers and the best of many a fields don’t need additional privileges to be involved in India. They can simply be privileged people who can be selfless in simply be great citizens of the motherland. Citizens help without self-interest and become aggressive in contributions to their land. That will make India a place of privilege. The attractive privilege is making India a global force it can be. Every NRI should take the privilege of being an Indian, and the honor of its success. Privilege is what we are, but not what we get in return for what we do. The country doesn’t need to afford us any free passes or award us any plaques for being good citizens.

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