By Rajeev Minocha
Perhaps the x= x+1 syndrome has been around from the time desis started coming to the US. For the uninitiated, the x is the year in which the desi targets to return back and of course the value on the right side keeps changing and so does the time to return!Of late, however the value on both sides has become a constant and many are actually taking the plunge to return and many more are actively exploring. It is difficult to estimate the actual number of moves that have taken place, but a couple of sources have pegged this as 20,000 to 25,000 in the last 2 years.
The reason for this desire to move back is not hard to identify. Although some may cite personal reasons such as ‘my parents are aging’, ‘want to get the kids to understand the Indian culture before they become too old’, etc. but that is NOT the true reason. Parents have always been aging and the kids have been growing older.
The real reason is the growing Indian economy. Compared to the growth in Indian Economy of about 3.5% between 1950 and 1980, the average pace of growth since 1991 has been 6.3% and was 9.6% during the last financial year! The average 8.8% annual growth in the last 4 years is the best expansion since India’s independence in 1947. Even if the US economy gets into a recession (or as some economists say it as already in recession), the growth of India may not get that much affected since it is being driven by the spending of its huge domestic middle class.
India's middle class, those with annual disposable incomes between $4,380 and $21,890, has more than doubled to 50 million in the past decade, according to McKinsey & Co., It estimates this group will further increase 10-fold to 583 million people by 2025. The booming economy has resulted in spiraling salary increases (and the rupee appreciation has helped further reduce the gap between $ salaries). Of-course the cost of living in India has increased a lot since we left the country, (particularly the value of real estate) but even then the net disposable income in India is likely to be higher (MUCH higher for senior level positions)
Now that we have established that growth in India seems to be assured atleast for the rest of our working lives, let’s try and see how we should plan to make the big move back.
The first place to start is your own family- talk to your spouse and children. Discuss at length the positives and the negatives of the move.
Some of the positives could be:
• Being close to extended family
• Possibly a larger social circle
• Better understanding and appreciation of the Indian culture for the kids
• Better (more intense/competitive) and more affordable school education
• Lot of help for household chores
Some of the negatives can be quite jarring, such as:
• Too many people
• Lack of traffic sense
• Poor public infrastructure
• Lack of cleanliness, lot of dirt/filth specially in public places
• Struggle with some of the things that we take for granted in the US such as uninterrupted power supply, telephone, etc.
Make a list of questions that are unanswered and seek help from friend and family either in the US or in India. Make a trip to India (with your family) and stay there atleast for 3 to 4 weeks to get a reality check for yourself. Of course the visit will not give you a 100% feel but it certainly would be better than visualizing life in India 7 to 10 thousand miles away!
Once you have gotten over the first part you need to move to the next step of deciding on career options for you and your spouse (if working). The first place maybe to explore options within your current company. If that does not work and/or if you want to explore other options then make a good resume reflective of your past work and achievements. At the same time list down the Industry/domain and specific companies that you may want to target. Think through the roles that you may want to pitch for. Having done this you may want to approach the companies directly or use the services of good executive search firms (such as US2Indiajobs) to navigate you through this important and sometimes taxing process.
While you search for your next job begin evaluating the city/location that you may want to move to, type of schools for your kids, apartment/home that you will need there, etc. If you are a US citizen, it may be useful to apply for the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) at your nearest Indian Consulate.
There will be a lot of work to be done here as well. Planning on what you want to take with you and what you want to dispose/sell off. Part of this maybe guided by the ‘relocation allowance’ if any, you are able to negotiate with your new employer and part maybe guided by the utility of the items in India- for example some of the electronic goods you may want to avoid if you don’t wish to deal with the different power ratings, etc. If you own a house here then you will need to decide whether you want to sell or rent out. It maybe prudent to engage a property management firm if you decide to rent.
With so many variables involved making the BIG move back is a BIG decision and implementing is even BIGGER. But with proper guidance, research and planning you can make it smoother and less daunting.
(The author is one of the founders at US2IndiaJobs, a US based company helping senior executives relocate)