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February - March 2005

Business Forum

Indian Media and Non-resident Indians

Some of the Indian journalists in the Indian media appear to thrive on carping about the Indians settled abroad, especially when they happen to be rich and successful. Expressing disparaging opinions about the Indians who have made a success of their life in foreign lands has become a common theme with the Indian press and television. Whilst there may be some elements of truth in these remarks now and then, the green-eyed envy is writ large on comments and stories we read about NRIs in Indian press.

Recently two Indian businessmen, settled in the United Kingdom, threw large parties in New Delhi, exhibiting the type of work they were doing in England which would be of lasting benefit to India and her people. They have achieved success in the hostile environment‑ of Britain in the 60’s and 70’s. Now they want people of India to share with them their experiences and their wealth.

Britain of the 60’s and 70’s was a very different place to that which is now visited by our potential MBA and Business Management students from India. The positive conditions they now enjoy have been paved forward by the hard gut slog of these so- called embarrassing NRI Indians. In their adopted land these NRIs did not have recourse to an army of servants, nannies, gardeners, cooks and drivers, to carry out the daily chores, which would have allowed them time to indulge themselves in acquiring the finer qualities of life and perfecting the lyrical qualities of their prose.

No! They had to just damn well get on with establishing their businesses and going about their work. Working hard to make an economic difference against a rigid wall of hatred and prejudice. A prejudice that was born of ignorance, based on the colour of their skin, the country of their origin, the foods they ate, the clothes they wore, and their traditional cultural values of living in an extended family. Each day they faced the demoralising graffiti of the all brown inclusive phrase “Pakis Out”, at every bend and turn leading to schools, stations and shopping venues. Throughout all this, the one hope that kept them going was that one day they would be able to carve out a better future for their children and a wealth which they would be able to return, at least part of it, to their homeland.

And indeed it is to the credit of the truly inborn Indian Spirit within these NRIs which has not only helped them to achieve the financial success they so desired, but it has also helped them to reverse hatred and gain authority and respect. It has helped them break through to the corridors of power, and break open doors, once heavily barred and padlocked to the NRI. Their success is marked by the fact that so many of the elite of British Establishment, who might at one time have flinched at the sight of a brown face amongst them, now feel honoured to accompany these NRIs to the land of garlic and curry once so despised.

People in India, our relations and friends, instinctively know that Indians living and working outside India are an asset to India. India’s Finance Minister has termed them ‘non-resident investors’. The success of Indians in foreign lands is a victory for India and its people, both national and NRIs. It is a victory of the inborn spirit which is truly Indian, which can overcome the fickleness of human nature, as shown in the comments and fabricated stories of certain journalists in the Indian media. Our love for Indians is all-embracing. We love even those who, in sheer envy or ignorance, berate us. We have the capacity of changing hatred into love. That is the legacy we inherit from Mahatma Gandhi, the father of New India, who was also, incidentally, an NRI.

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