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India is home, but happier away

Indians abroad rue lack of public services, socio-economic imbalances and are unable to agree on who should lead the next government, writes Paramita Ghosh.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2014 17:56 IST
Paramita Ghosh
Paramita Ghosh
Hindustan Times

Siya Banerjee, a travel industry professional has been living in the UK for 10 years. She has few complaints about it. The touchstone of her relationship with this country is its social security, especially the quality of its medical care. Originally from Kolkata, she uses London’s government hospitals. In India, she wouldn’t dream of it. “I’ve always had a good experience with the NHS (the UK’s publicly-funded healthcare system), if I need a surgery, I know I will be well looked after,” she said.

India’s lack of quality public services vis-à-vis abroad seem to touch one of the rawest nerves of respondents of the HT-MaRS Governance survey. They rate such services abroad twice as good than those in India. Other areas which show this same imbalance are — speediness of judicial process (7 versus 2.1) and enforceability of contacts (8 versus 3.6), with Indians abroad giving the higher score to their country of residence vis-à-vis India.

Policies abroad to promote gender equity are rated higher as well. Sandipa Newman, a home mortgage consultant in Wisconsin, USA, said while the glass ceiling did exist in America, “she had more opportunities to grow. In India, we are struggling for very basic rights for women.” Rima Vasudev, a Netherlands-based writer, said in incidents of violence, though The Netherlands did worse, its police service was doubly reliable.

Other interesting findings of the survey: NRIs in the US seemed more open about investing in property in India and converting and repatriating funds from India vis-a-vis those in Europe; NRIs from America and Europe vis-a-vis Asia are more pleased with their dealings with public sector banks. However, it would be more accurate to add that the average NRI’s sense of satisfaction about their dealings in or with India is middling — neither happy, nor unhappy — with a score in between 5.5 and 6.

From a distance, how do Indians abroad view the record of the UPA government? With elections around the corner, what does the future hold? The consensus seems to be that it’s difficult to arrive at one. “Manmohan Singh was a good finance man but not a leader,” said Banerjee. “The UPA hasn’t done well, but I’m not sure if Modi is the right replacement — he has done a good job in Gujarat but that’s a small state compared to the whole country,” said Kusum Bhatt, a Gujrati returning to India from the USA.

First Published: Feb 01, 2014 16:48 IST