Disclaimer: This is not a rant or attack on all NRIs. I know that some NRIs are accomplished and have made great contributions to the country. This post is directed at whining NRIs who comment without doing anything substantial for India.
I am amused whenever a non-resident Indian (NRI) speaks about issues related to India. In my humble opinion, most NRIs, irrespective of their political inclination have already drifted away from India and moved to a different nation. They have indirectly decided that India will not offer them a bright future (at least not as bright as one available abroad). And probably, they are right. Most of the NRIs are in search of a permanent residence status or US green card. There is nothing wrong in having such a goal!
In some parts of the country, the craze to leave India is insane! I was amused to know that Sikhs in Punjab offer a toy plane as an offering at Baba Nihal Singhji Shaheed Gurudwara (Talhan, Punjab), to go abroad. And the toy is given out as ‘prasad’ to kids at the end of the day! I mean, what’s up with Sikh NRIs protesting against farm laws in India?
An average NRI’s interest in India is more of a pastime or a titillating hobby rather than a sincere commitment. A typical NRI reads a lot of news related to India and shit-posts on Twitter or WhatsApp groups. He or she doesn’t bother much about India during his or her productive hours of the day (unless he or she is running a team of backend slaves in Bengaluru).
And then you have Indian academics like Amartya Sen or Jagdish Bhagwati in Ivy league schools of the USA. For them, India and its issues are essential for their career! I do admit that India doesn’t encourage research or academia the way the US does. They do have the right to study issues which interest them. But I am appalled when I see these personalities driving the narrative in India.
Do Indians chilling in US have the right to run propaganda in a country they don’t live in? I think the answer is a resounding no! I mean, they have no skin in the game. These academics don’t have to worry about the effect of their statements!
Let’s say that Professor A, based in the USA, supports more welfare policies in India and the media popularises this theory. Political parties adopt the policy and raise taxes to fund the scheme. The professor who suggested this theory would not be paying those taxes. If Professor B, a permanent resident of Canada, proposes tax cuts; and the Indian government adopts it; he would not be affected by its negative impact in India.
In my opinion, Indian academics who live in India must be given a larger voice in deciding the country’s policies. Visiting technocrats like Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramaniam and others are probably looking to add a high-profile government job to their illustrious CVs. They don’t have a real stake in India’s long term success because they don’t live in India.
I am not saying that NRI contribution to India is zero. NRIs send money to their families and often cared for people back in India. We can not rule out their emotions towards India. Their contribution to foreign societies has some impact on India’s image abroad. So, I often suppress my negative opinions about NRIs. Many of my close friends and relatives live abroad. I don’t want to offend them.
However, I decided to write this post after reading NRI noise during the second wave of the COVID pandemic in India. Do they have the right to jump into this debate? Probably yes, because their families are still in India. And some of them are raising funds for Indian NGOs.
But, I do want to question their commitment to the country. Half of them would have stayed back abroad during elections. The other half are those who visit India once in a year. If they had a choice, they would have preferred not to enter India during this crisis.
Inspite of lacklustre track record, NRIs have truckloads of criticism and suggestions to the government. Some of these nincompoops have the gumption to say that Leader X should go or Leader Y should win power from their comfortable couches abroad. Why should they have a say in Indian affairs? Why should they whine about the affairs of a country they don’t plan to live in?
Almost 90 percent of NRIs who comment about India on a regular basis have no idea about the facts or ground reality in India. Let’s forget my random complaints. I will share real arguments posed by an NRI on the COVID crisis in India.
Reasonable statement: Sure, the government didn’t plan well. But citizens are equally responsible for the second wave of infections as they didn’t wear a mask and didn’t follow social distancing rules between November 2020 and March 2021.
NRI Intellectual: Average citizen has 4 hours to buy milk. [These restrictions kicked in after lockdown announcement]. Average citizen dies on the road trying to get oxygen. Was there a cash relief asking average citizen to stay home? No.
Reasonable statement: People didn’t wear the mask properly in public places. They often wore it on their neck or chin. This could have contributed to a deadly second wave in India.
NRI Intellectual: It can come even if you are wearing a mask. You could get it while buying vegetables. India’s population density is such. One person can get it and then after he/she’s home whole family is infected. Crime to get vegetable eh? Solutions designed by India’s elite was bullshit. They impose lockdown. Farmer is given ₹6000. Throw some rice/wheat and make PPT under the guidance of Honourable Shri Narendra Modi.
Reasonable statement: Many people chose not to get vaccine when it was available.
NRI Intellectual: If govt had Vaccinated 60% of population, there wouldn’t be any such scene. [As if vaccines can be manufactured like popcorn]. It is 100% govt fault , honourable PM deserves to lose in 2024.
Reasonable statement: It’s hard to vaccinate a population of our size.
NRI Intellectual: Yes India has more population, duh.
Well, I am not sure if NRIs are an asset or a liability to India. But I can surely say that some of them are a pain in the ass. They don’t deserve the attention they get.
Some day, some of these NRIs will return to India when the white man refuses to give them a work visa or a permanent resident’s status. Probably, they will continue to complain about India’s problems, from their gated communities which are immune to the changes happening in dustier and rustier corners of India. I would assign greater weight to comments coming from such voices, because they have some stake in ensuring that affairs are in order outside their palatial walls.