Despite the controversy surrounding Indian nationals and the US H-1B visa program, a recent survey of Indian high-tech graduates revealed that the vast majority would rather remain in India than relocate to the United States or other foreign countries to pursue career opportunities.
The survey of 677 graduates of Indian Institutes of Technology showed a significant drop in the percentage of Indian citizens who opted to leave the country for higher education or work reasons. Evalueserve, the research and analytics firm that conducted the survey, says among those high-tech workers that graduated between 1964 and 2001, 35 per cent moved to countries other than India. Among those graduating in 2002 and 2007, 84 per cent remained in India and 16 per cent decided to pursue interests elsewhere.
The research also showed that fewer Indian graduates believe other countries such as the United States would provide more opportunities than their nation of origin. Sixty per cent of those graduating between 1964 and 2001 said they thought the United States and other developed countries provided better education and career opportunities. That number dropped among more recent graduates to 51 per cent believing they would have a better chance landing a job if located outside of India.
The research shows that Indians believe they can succeed best in their own country, according to Alok Aggarwal, chairman and founder of Evalueserve and previously with IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center (during which time he helped to build IBM's Research Laboratory at IIT Delhi).
"Most strikingly, when asked, '10 years down the line, which geography do you think will hold the most promise for success?' 72 per cent chose India, [with] only 17 per cent opting for the US, 5 per cent for Europe and 2 per cent for China," the report reads.
Specifically regarding the United States, 30 per cent of Indian workers who graduated between 1964 and 2001 moved to the United States, while 12 per cent of those who graduated between 2002 and 2007 did the same. The research shows more of the latter graduates did want to move to the United States but didn't for reasons ranging from stringent visa norms post September 11, high cost of living, limited scholarships and the perception of a poorer life in the United States.
For 70 per cent of those graduating prior to 2002, the United States represents better academic opportunities; 63 per cent of those graduating in 2002 and beyond believe the same. But the perception of more work in the United States has changed. Seventeen per cent of respondents who graduated between 1964 and 2001 perceived there were limited job opportunities in the United States, compared with 28 per cent of those graduating between 2002 and 2007 who believe the prospect of work overseas was limited.
"The drop in the number of [Indian Institutes of Technology graduates] who believed the US offered a 'better standard of living' has been remarkable, from 13 per cent to almost zero," the report reads.