May 19, 2018

Returning NRI guide !

So, it has been about 5 months since we left Dubai & moved back to India (Trivandrum )  after more than 6 years abroad . It was a decision that we took after much deliberations to leave a place that has been quite good on a personal front and move back here. And just thought of sharing a few perspectives that I feel could come handy for NRI's planning to come back

*  There is never a "perfect time" for you to come back. When you look at your bank balance you may feel , well can I stay for couple more years. But the more you stay abroad, your kids will find it more difficult to come back

* Things won't be smooth.. You will be exposed to troubles that you are not familiar with. Internet would break, unruly traffic, low quality goods - you'll experience all that..And you'll realise that there are alternatives to all those.. You can easily take up backup internet connections, you find out times / roads where traffic is smooth, you learn about brands you can trust..It has been a learning process and it'll take time.

* Problems means there are opportunities. In almost all cities of India, you find a vibrant young generation trying to solve those problems & find business opportunities out of it. Entrepreneurial energy in India has grown up by leaps and bounds compared to time that I left India ( 2011 ) .

* Sales process in most consumer facing businesses in India is not matured yet. That has been my experience through buying a car / asking for the right credit cards / picking the right furniture.. Sales professionals are not yet ready in general to meet a customer who comes well researched about what he/she wants..They try to sell the same thing in same way.  And you'll  find that a bit frustrating, especially if you have the habit of researching about what you want very well and approach an institution.  The concept of unbundling the product , selling many of those as ancillaries has taken hold in India - but most consumer facing professionals are not much aware of the product details and not well trained in the art of understanding the customer's needs

* Indian taxation and associated laws are still 20 years back from an NRI - Resident transition & vice versa..They still think that once you are an NRI you stay there till your retirement . The idea that someone can come back for a few years and then may chose to go back is not really distilled into the taxation rules & laws. You'll end up spending quite lot of time and effort in doing all these.

* Education - In general you' & your kids miss the well oiled process & teaching abroad. But the long term value in India I feel is that your kids will be exposed to different people from all strata of society ( rich / poor / ) and that should help them in the long run

* You can experiment with a lot of things without much problems.. Plant nurseries, composting ,  museums , short trips , travel to relatives ...That visa / passport concern from a travel perspective will be largely gone

* As you have seen the developed world, you tend to quickly realise the things to change , the opportunities and much more. Certainly ,  having seen & experienced multiple cultures is a very value added experience while returning to India.. You tend to discern things better. You tend to bring a new perspective to many conversations.. You tend to realise & correct the dogmatic things present in many people

* You would do better for yourself if you stop the habit of converting currencies & comparing it.. You are in India now & INR is the only currency that your should bother about unless you are travelling abroad.

* There would be times when the doubt kicks in - Whether the decision to return was right ..Remember that there are no perfectly right or wrong choices. You make a choice based on best available information and go all for it !.. Don't look back even if you are tempted to!

Above all, I think the most wonderful thing being in India is that you'll have plenty of opportunities to work on problems - be it industry / academia / govt - that can shape the destiny of the country going forward. Your international experience would be a valuable asset for that.