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Non-Resident Indians Feelings About India

Non-Resident Indians Feelings About India :A Perception-based Global survey

Manama, Bahrain, December1, 2006: The Non-resident Indians (NRIs) are considered as ambassadors for Brand India in foreign lands. They try to remove a lot of misconceptions that foreigners may have about India. It is seen that most of the time they try to highlight the positives instead of the negatives about India. Furthermore, they play multifarious role by contributing to the peace and prosperity of India and Indians around the world not just restricted to sending remittances. According to one estimate, their contributions in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of India have been about 18-20%.

The NRIs population is estimated over twenty two million, living in different regions of the world. Over 44% of them are concentrated in Asia, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand and approximately 26% are in North and South America. This is a significant population that is talented, resourceful, and quite sensitive towards the developmental issues. Majority of them are technically qualified people who immigrated to other countries for various reasons and have been playing a key role in transforming their socio-economic environment of these regions. They are one of the main investors in India. The presence of several hundreds NRIs making waves abroad and through their influence also help Indian organizations to get outsourcing projects, collaborations, joint ventures and flow of capital into the Indian businesses. NRIs are now showing long term commitments to integrate with the local businesses in India

Recently, there have been a lot of discussions on NRIs to the effect that once they leave India in search of green pastures e.g. to North America and Europe, they start berating India. Influenced by such contentious discussions, Dr. P.L. Joshi, who hails from Uttaranchal, India and currently a Professor at the University of Bahrain, has conducted perhaps the first global survey of its kind on NRIs attitudes examining “what makes them feel proud of India? Using a convenient random survey technique, 1441 questionnaires were sent by emails to NRIs living in 29 countries. Ten statements, which may make the NRIs to express their proud feelings towards India, and five statements, which may hesitate not to say so, were included in the questionnaire after a two-stage Delphi method was used to develop the questionnaire. A total of 162 replies were received; however, only 90 questionnaires were usable. A Likert scale ranging from strongly agree (5) to strongly disagree (1) was used to measure the responses. There was some response bias particularly from North America where the maximum number of questionnaires was sent. More than 50% of the respondents were executives and managers together with a few business people. Over 31.1% of responses were received from Middle East alone in which over 40% of NRIs population live. Again, over 50% of them have post-graduate qualifications and over 45% were in the age group of 36 to 54 years who responded to the questionnaires. The survey provides a number of insights and the respondents also offered several comments. The main findings were:

1. On an overall basis, NRIs strongly feel that (1) ‘the history and rich cultural values of India”, (2) ‘India’s third-largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world (technical human resources)”, and (3) ‘technology, software and other developments” are the three main achievements/characteristics of India, which make them feel proud of contemporary India. These three variables received more than 80% responses from the respondents in this global survey. The findings reflect that the NRIs still take pride in Indian customs, traditions and cultural values for the simple reason that perhaps it is the only country in the world with multicultural diversity, immense demographics and ethnic communities living in peace. Of course, there were statistical differences in their perceptions when data was analyzed by NRIs living in developed versus under-developed countries, Middle East region versus rest of the world . The respondents living in developing countries gave higher score on the ten variables compared to NRIs living in developed world.

The respondents were not very much impressed with the claims that India has become self –sufficient in agricultural food grains. It received seventh ranking in the ranking order and only 36.7 percent of respondents agreed that India has achieved self-reliance in food grains. The perceptions of respondents living in developed countries and developing countries were similar on this point.

Furthermore, it seems that respondents’ attitudes towards India from the Middle East and Asia were more positive than NRIs living in the Western countries. The reason may be that NRIs in Middle East are unique as they are not naturalized there and ultimately will return to India (Non-Returnable Indians). For nine statements, the average score from respondents from Europe were below 80 percent. The NRIs from Europe also ranked “India’s third largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world (technical human resources)” as the main characteristics/achievement of India (Chart –1).

A few hard comments were also stated in the above context. For example, one respondent from North America argued, that “ I belong to a minority which is concerned with the essentials of culture, which is not the priority of the elites and of the middle class. That is why I view India as a cultural failure”. This is a reflection of a stereotypical NRI’s point of view on India’s perspectives.

The respondents a were also well familiar with the fact that India has one of the largest entertainment industries in the world and India’s international recognition of economic and military power (e.g. its ability to compete with China and EU) also motivate them to have a positive thinking towards India. Many of them are really Bollywood fans.

Ends

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