Not that long ago, Indians were congratulating themselves on their brilliant success in this country and touted the growth of their numbers. But now that the riches are more difficult to attain in a bad recession, the Indians' once enthusiastic crush on America is fading like cut flowers in a dry vase. Talk about a short attention span. (Hint: patriotism is about unconditional love.)
H-1B visas to the US used to be hot property. Something that should be grabbed with both hands and held close. Not in 2009. On May 21, 50 days after the gates were opened for the financial year 2010, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services received only 45,500 visa applications against a cap of 65,000. That was a revelation. In April 2008, all available H-1B visas were grabbed in a week's time, making FY-2009 the fifth consecutive year to achieve the cap before October 1, the start of a fiscal year in the US.(Perhaps the author meant "fewer" in the preceding paragraph.)
So, is the dollar losing its sheen? A recent study, titled 'America's Loss Is the World's Gain' and involving 1,203 Indian and Chinese immigrants who have returned home after studying and working in the US, shows that "a trickle of returnees a decade ago has become a flood". The study, by Vivek Wadhwa, senior research associate of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, and his team from University of California and Duke University, says lesser people want to go to the US, and more are heading home. [Indians: US is not for us!, The Week Magazine, Kerala, July 5, 2009]
Indians may be a little slow; Chinese abroad have been scampering back to their homeland, the People's Republic of China, for a while. (See Temps Decamp... from 2006. The Red China economy has been booming — at least until the recent difficulty — and the totalitarian communist government is apparently not a deterrent when measured against the primal allure of rejoining the Tribe on its own turf.)
And since the Indians and Chinese only came for the money (like most immigrants these days), bon voyage to the campers.
While on the subject of Indians, I caught part of a program on public radio recently about the cruelty of the caste system, particularly the dehumanization that dalits ("untouchables") still have to endure. The audio is not available, but some of the material can be seen and heard on the producer's website, Ellis Cose: Breaking the Bonds of Tradition.
"The so-called upper caste men would enter any house of the Dalits that they wanted and do anything with the women they wanted. So, for example, a higher caste man has come and entered the house where a woman is alone. He sets his shoes outside the house. If the husband comes from market and sees the shoes, he understands somebodyâ€™s there, so he wonâ€™t go inside. He will go back to the market." â€” Dalit leader Martin MacwanNice culture! How misogynous, caste-obsessed Indians ever became considered as a model minority in America is beyond me.