Abilash Jaikumar’s parents are scratching their heads in disbelief. In 1981, the family had moved to California in search of a better life. Thirty years on, their son has moved back to India to set up a company and their daughter is poised to move here with a property development firm. Both are born and bred Americans.
<b1>"My parents can’t understand why this reverse migration is happening, but the opportunities for young people with the right attitude are huge in India at the moment," said Jaikumar.
With the US and UK economies in free fall — jobs being cut across sectors, house prices falling and interest rates on the rise — the result is that more and more young professionals are moving abroad for work, and India is one of the hottest destinations.
In Mumbai, the number of foreigners registered to work increased 30 per cent last year. The Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) expects that figure to have risen again by 40 per cent this year.
The FRRO estimates that there are currently 4,000 expats living in Mumbai. If the figures continue to rise by 40 per cent year a year, there will be more than 15,000 expats and returning non-resident Indians making Mumbai their home by 2012.
"We have witnessed a huge rise in the number of people in the 20s and 30s moving to Mumbai,” said a senior FRRO official, requesting anonymity. "We believe it is because companies are now not just hiring from abroad for very senior management positions but also, as the economy expands, Indian companies are recruiting skilled young foreigners at the middle management level."
The entertainment industry is also hiring Westerners, he says.
Companies that are recruiting from abroad say that they are fully globalised and therefore only interested in hiring the best people to do the job, wherever they are from. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) currently employs 165 foreign nationals in India.
"At TCS, we recruit foreign nationals to leverage their language skills and knowledge of the market,” said Ajoy Mukherjee, vice-president of global human resource, TCS. The company engages with the Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales, an international student community with members from over 100 countries, to attract students of foreign origin.