When Raghav, 32, boarded the early morning flight to the United States from Begumpet airport here last month, there was a member of his family missing. A software engineer in the US for 10 years, he had come on a holiday with his wife and two kids. But he left his youngest one, just six months old, back in Hyderabad.
Raghav is among scores of expatriates leaving their children behind in India to be brought up by their families till they are ready for school. While hiring a baby-sitter in the US is considered prohibitively expensive by families where both the husband and wife work, others say no amount of dollars can provide the kind of personal care their relatives provide.
Hyderabad currently has over 1,000 such children who are US citizens by birth. Sources at the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), the largest body of American Telugus, say there could be over 5,000 such children in Andhra Pradesh. In the Greater Hyderabad area, a total of 1,510 US citizens are registered with the police out of which 70 per cent are children below four years. US passports apart, they hold persons of Indian origin cards.
“In India, generally, children are taken care of by elders in the family. But for NRI couples where both husband and wife work, there is no such luxury. So, they send the children to relatives in India,” said a police officer.
“The parents, who miss their children, feel happy that at least a grandchild is with them. And the children feel happy that their child is being cared for by their parents,” said Ramesh, an NRI based in New Jersey, who had both his children brought up by his in-laws in Visakhpatnam.
“The upbringing in India by relatives and friends inculcate deep-rooted Indian values and provide an emotional mooring to the child so that he/she can face the realities of life in the US better,” said another NRI.
While it is a win-win situation for the NRIs, for the elderly parents back here, it’s not without problems. While old parents are happy to bring up grandchildren, they suffer from the empty nest syndrome once again when the child goes back permanently.
“It was really difficult to get adjusted after my grandson left for the US finally. He was with us for over three years and we were used to his pranks. We miss him so much now. His room, his toys and belongings only bring tears,” said Ramakant Reddy, a retired government official.