Friday, December 12, 2008

World Turned Upside Down Part 3

As usual, Cleveburgh Diaspora had a great post about migration trends which brought me back to my "world turned upside down" theme. I need to honestly state that, i'm a bit obsessed with the Indian subcontinent since making a few great investments in Indian mutual funds in the late 1990's.

When people were leaving India, few thought about the huge potential crop of people who might spring back with world class skills and connections. But now the benefits of this brain flow are now evident.The number of resumes flooding into India is taking off.

"Five months ago, Pankaj Dinodia was on top of the Wall Street boom: At age 25, the Indian immigrant had made it through one of the top U.S. business schools and held an important investment banking position with Goldman Sachs.

Then, in the middle of the summer, he felt the calling. The future didn't look so good in the big Western markets, he decided. Those calls from his family in New Delhi, urging him to come back and help out with the family accounting business, sounded more sensible. So he gave up his huge bonus and got on a plane.

At the time, his move from the world's most successful investment bank to the poky New Delhi offices of S.R. Dinodia & Co., Chartered Accountants, bewildered his friends and colleagues: It was as if he had abandoned his future.

Now they're all phoning him."

A few more quotes:

"The reversal is particularly dramatic in India, where human resource managers for finance firms are reporting hundreds of résumés from New York and London arriving on their desks each week.

Mr. Dinodia has found himself at the centre of this phenomenon. After he arrived in India, he set up an online community for Indian-born graduates of the Wharton School - the acclaimed University of Pennsylvania business college where he'd earned his degree - to help them find positions in India's thriving financial sector if they wanted to move back.

He thought he would end up helping out maybe a couple of dozen people. Then the markets collapsed. In the past six weeks, his network has helped 350 Wharton grads move back to India, using its circle of 50 India-based mentors and "industry captains" to place them in high-level positions in an economy that looks more promising, if a lot smaller, to many of them."

Lots of other countries from China to Turkey, Maylasia and Australia are aggressively working to bring people back home.

Of corse U.S. immigration policies which make it very hard to obtain permanent status have really contributed.

"Mr. Wadhwa worries that U.S. immigration policies are pushing the best minds out of the country's economy: Because the Green Card system only gives residency status to immigrants who have permanent jobs, and does not allow them to stay through a downturn, he believes the system is destroying the competitive advantage of the United States. He estimates that one million skilled foreign workers awaiting permanent residency visas in the U.S. are likely to leave."

But a lot of these recent migrants are people with U.S. and British citizenship. Similar trends played out after the dot com boom turned sour but India at that time had much less opportunity. The recent bust has also exposed much deeper flaws in the American economy.

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