UPDATE: Link below to an essay on NRIs in OutlookIndia.com by Tunku Varadarajan.
The term NRI, in India and among Indians abroad, means non-resident Indian. At first, it was a bureaucratic designation for Indians who went abroad to work and who might or might not return to their homeland at some point (in most cases, it was "might not"). Nowadays the term is applied, somewhat lazily, to Indians of all kinds who live abroad, including, incorrectly, to second-generation Indian-Americans.
Here's a blog post by well-known India-based columnist Swapan Dasgupta, who says the NRI has "fallen from grace":
The average NRI’s fall from grace in India has been precipitate. The vacuous condescension that marked earlier attitudes has been replaced by desperation to find some accommodation somewhere. The big NRI players have no problem — they have seen their social worth in the West keep pace with India’s soaring reputation as a rising power. But the small fish whose tie and a twang once enabled him to lord over his less fortunate brethren in India has seen envy replaced with disinterest.
To the NRI confronted with a precarious descent into obscurity, there is only a small solace: interventions on the net. Taking advantage of a more connected world, the professional NRI (who knows no other identity) has stepped up his battles to cast India in his own confused image. No Indian website is free from the voluminous but pernicious comments of the know-all, ultra-nationalist NRI banging away on the computer in splendid isolation. From being India’s would-be benefactors, the meddlesome NRI has become an intellectual nuisance, derailing civil discourse with his paranoia and pseudo-superiority. It’s time he was royally ignored.
Dasgupta, former senior editor of publications such as India Today, Times of India, etc, is a one-time NRI himself (he studied and lived in the UK for a while).
Since so many readers of SAJAforum are NRIs or former NRIs, it would be interesting to hear your responses to his piece.
UPDATE: Tunku Varadarajan, opinions editor at Forbes.com, has written a piece about NRIs as well, in the current edition of OutlookIndia.com:
The Hick, Finally At Home
Those ‘backward’ days are over. The emancipation of the Indian emigrant is complete. For New India is now a Big Deal.
EXCERPT: In these ways—micro and macro—the Indian immigrant abroad no longer feels protective of, or patronising towards, the Hick at Home. This liberation has had intriguing consequences: it has allowed the unburdened immigrant to integrate himself more fully into the political life of his adoptive country (something Indian immigrants have been notoriously poor at doing). And in doing so, they have become—paradoxically—more effective in the service of their country of origin. Witness the role played by Indian-Americans in the lobbying for the recent US nuclear deal with India. American lawmakers (and an American president) paid them careful heed not because they were Indian, but because they were Americans who were pulling for India because the deal was good for America.
And it was the new India, in effect, that allowed them to be American—not mimic men, nor people in limbo, nor members merely of a “diaspora”. That is independence, truly defined, for the Indian immigrant abroad.
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