Lack of basic facilities like electricity, water, decent roads, lack of fresh air and pollution are some of the major deterrents that stops the NRI from returning home to India.
The first thing that an NRI will notice is the assault of noise and pollution on returning home to India. It takes some time, and some stomach upsets, often ending in diarrhoea due to contamination of water, in spite of using only bottled water. 'What's the point, if you can't breathe fresh air, don't have clean water to drink, why should I return to India'? Says an NRI Rajesh agitatedly.
For starters, take the number of holidays in a year due to so many religious festivals, in addition to the never ending strikes by one sector or the other. 'Indeed it is a wonder that work ever gets done in this country', moans a recent NRI who is having a tough time settling back in Bangalore. And there is so much of office politics, back biting, cribbing, "they can't take criticism at all, then, how can we achieve quality"? Asks Rajesh.
Office politics is not a unique desi syndrome, but it is more visible in India. Perhaps the returning NRI is reacting to it so seriously because he needs some time to re-orient himself to the Indian system. After all, he took quite some years to adapt to an American culture; else he wouldn't be able to achieve a certain lifestyle, right? Didn't he have any problems then? So it all boils down to how much flexible you are.
Children are the number one reason many NRIs try to return home to India. Children are also the number one reason why so many of them fail to readjust to the Indian situation. Many Indian children born in America don't feel at home with the Indian system of education. But things have changed in India. There are plenty of International schools in India that have the same infrastructure and teaching methods as in the USA, of course, these schools are more expensive.
The longer your children are in the USA, the more difficult it is for them to adjust to Indian customs back home. It is one thing to make that annual trip to India, when all the relatives are beaming at you for the presents you bring home, and quite another story when your kids start influencing their country cousins with the American culture, in the way they speak, dress and eat. Many kids of strict vegetarian families have taken to eating non vegetarian food, dressing and talk too freely which the Indian might interpret as being disrespectful to the elders.
American system emphasis independence right from the moment a child is born; he gets his own crib, car seat, his own everything. In India, there is a culture of sharing. This causes a certain dependency on people in India, where as America has replaced the dependency on people with gadgets. Washing machines, dish washers, vacuum cleaners have replaced the maid. But in India, it is hard to survive without one. And like every Indian woman knows, good maids are the rarest of species. Of course these gadgets are readily available in the Indian market, but who can trust the power system in India?
Godhra riots, Ayodhya controversy and increasing violence in the country make the NRI think twice about the safety of returning back to India. Corruption and lack of political will to change the country for the better makes the NRI think that he is better off in the USA.
India has the best hospitals and doctors you can think of, but when it comes to maintenance, it lags way behind many countries. But even this is changing; the returning NRI need not worry about getting the best medical help, if he is willing to spend a little more, as there are numerous well maintained, high tech hospitals have come up.
Emotional ties are the strongest reason why an NRI will want to come back to India. If his roots to the mother country are still strong, whatever the hurdles, he is ready to overcome them. But if the emotional ties have weakened, if there's nothing for him to connect to, whether it is his friends or family circle, or nostalgia for a place where he spent his childhood, his ancestral home or village, if all these have disappeared, then there is nothing left for him to come back to.
Over time, roads too take different names, certain buildings that you used to frequently visit might have disappeared, wastelands where you played cricket turned into commercial complexes, the advertisements have become bolder, the talking style in the radio has changed too, there is whole new vocabulary is in place supari, item numbers are alien to you and if you feel like a total stranger in your own country, it is not surprising at all.
Indian News, Indian clothes, jewellery, spices, entertainment in the form of music and movies are readily available for the nostalgic Indian in the USA. Every Indian takes a little India with him when he leaves the country. So, why bother going back after all the years of struggle and start reconnecting all over? Is it worth it? Now, that is a question that every individual has to answer for himself. For some, it is worth it, for others it may not be.
The question of how many really make it back home doesn't arise, as it is a matter of personal choice and circumstances which varies in every individual's case. Home, they say is where the heart is, simply follow your heart.