Why do many Indians go to the US for higher studies and settle there? Is life better in the US than in India?
Surbhi Dharmadhikari, Indian
Answered Aug 2, 2016
Let me tell you why I want to leave India and pursue further education in the United states.
I am doing my MBBS from a government medical college. After 5.5 years of hard work, I’ll give my post graduate entrance exam and cross my fingers; because of the terrible odds of getting in that I face.
50, 000 medical students graduate in India every year and fight for just 20,000 medical seats. Let’s say all 30,000 remaining try again the next year, we have 80,000 competing for the 20,000 seats. (In ideal circumstances)
Now out of these, around 12000 are MD/MS seats from government colleges while the rest are private/diploma courses.
Let’s say I’m of the brighter of the lot and happen to be in those top 12000.
But oopss! Not all those seats are for me. 50% are reserved for the backward classes, duh.
So here I am, an ambitious doctor aiming to expand my knowledge competing against 50,000 new doctors, thousands of repeaters for 5000 seats.
I run to the United States (With a 2:1 ratio of PG seats: Graduates).
Or buy a lottery ticket maybe.
Note: The figures are from newspaper articles and are approximate estimates. But I think you get the point.
Divyanth Jayaraj, Software Engineer
I left India because India didn’t need me.
I grew up in India with a certain standard of living. To maintain that standard of living, I had no choice but to be the best. Being myself was not enough.
If I wanted to be an engineer, I had to graduate with honors from IIT. Then, I had to be placed in Google, Facebook or Amazon. My annual income at least has to be 21 lakhs INR. Then, I had to buy a house that’s quite big, accessible to good schools, good health-care and has easy transportation - which meant living in a big city with skyrocketing costs of living.
And then, there’s this question of social status. Since India is rife with caste system, it’s hard to have basic social respect unless you’re highly qualified and have a high paying white collar job. Otherwise, your neighbors and relatives will care about where you go after work. Who your friends are. Who your girlfriend is. What your hobbies are and what you like to eat. If they don’t approve, you will be potentially cut off from basic necessities like decent housing, good education or good healthcare. Instead, you might be restricted to poor choice in housing, negligent health care and bullies for teachers and mentors. After all, the good ones have a reputation to maintain so that they too get basic respect. So, you are stuck with the bad ones; bad company, bad friends, bad bosses and bad service providers. Being highly qualified, excuses you from all these “sins”. The society around you will be more lenient if your qualification is more “prestigious”. The only other alternative is to appear tough; be arrogant bordering on violence.
There’s a reason the trope in South Indian movies, that the hero always beats up the bad guys is so popular. Some people use violence to gain social influence by being something akin to “the hero of their people”. All of “my people/caste” lived in some remote village while I lived in a plush city.
I had none of that. I wasn’t the best in anything. I was “mediocre”. I didn’t go to IIT. I went to a regular local college. I didn’t get high grades or “distinction”. In fact, I barely passed the exams. Nobody in India would hire me because of my “poor” performance in college.
My geeky looks and hobbies didn’t help either. “Real men” should be able to handle themselves with bad people. I on the other hand would roll up into a ball and beg. I couldn’t even run if I wanted to. My mild autism meant that I could never befriend “heroes” for protection. I looked like this.
So, I had 2 choices.
Take a low paying job and lower my living standards and expectations. That means no gaming laptops, no high speed internet and patchy electric supply! Decent clothes are going to be too expensive for my budget and mind you; people in my country wear decent clothes to get basic respect; not privileged treatment. I’m not from an upper caste or a hero, remember? So I have to make up for it with loads of additional effort.