Category Bad things about India

R2I Return to India 2010 – 2012: Prashant’s conclusions

I’m glad that we returned to India (R2I) and have a verdict on the R2I experiment. In the summer of 2012, we are moving to America.

Why R2I didn’t work out – the important stuff

Work

Corporate client visit, KolkataClient way too happy while I work in the background, Delhi

Immediately after returning to India, I started and ran a web design consulting company and helped startups with their product definition, branding and design. One of these was listed as a top 10 startup to watch in India by a major publication. Another one is getting good traction with VCs. We are very proud of them. Starting and running a consulting business in India was challenging on 2 fronts:

Hiring

Finding people with the right skillsets was extremely difficult. We spent 2 hours daily looking for candidates. Mostly, they failed in having usable domain skills. We tried several permutations – hiring from other industries (print, advertising), hiring from universities directly, poaching seniors from competitors. We got a strong team together but at some point I realized that it would be increasingly harder for us to find more talented people. This was the single biggest obstacle to scaling the business and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

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Emigration and Returning to India (R2I) in big media

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Many U.S. Immigrants’ Children Seek American Dream Abroad

New York Times, April 15, 2012 by Kirk Semple
This article is interesting in highlighting the increase in emigration. I would have found it more informative if it had talked about the people’s daily lives – new home, work place, friends, etc. It’s a bit simplistic but worth a read.

I’d written about Akshay a few months ago. Coincidentally, he works with Samir and Nehal (featured in the NYT article) at Gateway House in Mumbai.

Economics Journal: Who’s Returning to India and Why?

Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2012 by Rupa Subramanya
A great follow up article that puts the emigration trend into perspective and worth reading after the New York Times article.

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Bad things about India and what I miss about America after R2I

Prashant in Smoky Mountains in the deep south, 2006
1. Earth

Life should be oozing from every nook in the Indian subcontinent with it’s rich soil, warm temperatures and yearly monsoons. But cities, towns and villages in India have long defaced this natural order. I miss tree lined streets, the daily walk home from the subway station and the state parks of Massachusetts.

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Quality of life after R2I – Single car crash inside our luxury bubble

We were driving with the air conditioning brushing against our silky hair. Suddenly, we hear a BOOM CRANK HISS and we were stalled. WTF?

Quality of life after R2I - car crash

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New experience after R2I: Censorship

Flipping through the WSJ Magazine in Delhi, I see this:Censorship in India

Excerpt from the Act:

POWERS & FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL
13.(2) (b) to build up a code of conduct for newspapers, news agencies and journalists in accordance with high professional standards

Goodbye First Amendment and pretty advertisements. Welcome high professional standards.

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Quality of life after returning to India is challenging outside our bubble

Quality of life in India after R2IPHOTO: Driving in India’s capital after R2I Delhi. Usually, there is no caution tape.

Today is Sunday. That means that the driver is off and we need to drive everywhere. The romance of the great quality of life after moving to India seems naïve today, even foolish. What if that guy had run into me? What if I hadn’t seen that pile of concrete in the middle of the highway? We can’t dial 911. The rawness of the Delhi experience outside of our bubble is dangerous and I am feeling scared. I miss safety. After re-entering the bubble of our new Gurgaon home, I sought intellectual solace on the New York Times – where wise people talk about wise things. And I found Mr. Joseph.

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Motor bikes can transport anything on Indian Roads!

20101206-IMG_7192-3 Motor bike carrying 2 large pieces of glass in Gurgaon, India Scooter carrying man and kid with lots of wood in Amjer, Rajasthan, India Carrying a rolled up mattress on a motor bike in Gurgaon, India Motor bike with 2 large boxes on Jaipur - Delhi highway

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Work culture in India is weak compared to America

Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have officesPHOTO: Cyber city in DLF Phase 2, Gurgaon, Haryana where many MNCs in India have offices

I had heard that employees in India change jobs very often. Having been here for a month, I’m beginning to see some of the reasons for all the job hopping.

My opinions below are derived from conversations and experiences with several professionals across various MNCs in India.

The Employee Perspective

At the entry/mid-management level, a 2-year career with the same company is considered long. Employees are constantly on the lookout for another job and are sometimes actively poached by competitors. I’m told this is because there are substantially fewer “qualified” people than there are jobs. And with more and more MNCs growing their operations in India, this problem is expected to get worse.

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Defeating the rats of Mahabharata

A few years ago, Surya of New Hampshire had done a business out of India. He had many tales, one of which included an army of rats, his cables and Surya shouting with such frustration that you could see his blood red esophagus (Surya likes to use fancy words). Such a tale would have awed anyone, and it made me fear for my internet kingdom.

Since I am softer spoken than Surya and too modest to show my esophagus in public, I have encased my internet in 2000 pounds of pure stainless steel. If the rat armies manage to break my defenses, it will be the crowning achievement of their civilization and deserve a movie to celebrate it: The Rats of Mahabharata versus the cunning defenses of Jeloka ji.

A new stainless steel boxMy equipment and the perforated boxThe equipment insideOnly rats with balls of steel beyond this point

See BIG pictures of my kingdom’s defenses

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Please don’t compare New York’s cost of living with New Delhi or Mumbai

Meenal expressing herself in NYPHOTO: Meenal expressing herself in New York, November 2008.

Alright, I’m quite tipsy now. Can you repeat what you were saying. Oh yes, I remember now: the cost of living in New Delhi or Gurgaon is high and that makes sense. Something something New York something something. Your drink must be better than mine. Even in my current state of intoxication, hearing New York as justification or explanation for the cost of living in Delhi sounds like a stretch. Why?

Gross Metropolitan Product in 2008

  • New York: $1466 Billion
  • INDIA GDP in 2009: $1240 Billion*** 
  • Boston: $338 Billion
  • Mumbai (Bombay): $209 Billion
  • Phoenix, Arizona: $200 Billion
  • New Delhi:  $167 Billion

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers list of world cities economies

*** Shockingly, New York’s metropolitan product is more than all of India’s GDP. There’s a 9 fold difference in wealth between New Delhi and New York. But 2008 is dated. New York and America have suffered an economic ‘situation’ since. New Delhi and India, on the other hand, are growing at 5-10% per year. Fair enough, let’s fast forward …

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Nonstop repairs at home after R2I India

Things break all the time in India. Things come out of their factory boxes broken, or are found to be faulty on first use. Things break that you’ve never seen broken. Things that you couldn’t even fathom had anything to break in it will break. We Sherlock Holmed this and found 2 obvious reasons. First, the stuff itself is of a lower quality – This is understandable in a poorer country. We’ll make peace with this. Second, the workmanship is very irresponsible. I’m not sure why people don’t take pride in their work but the constant repairs are frustrating.

examples

Example 1: Faulty light wiring

The ceiling light was installed 2 weeks ago. This was the first time I tried to position it according to my taste and it short circuited blowing the main house fuse. Lesson learned: If it works in any respect, thank your stars and don’t touch it.

PHOTO: I’m up on a 30 pound workman’s ladder shit scared of getting electrocuted:Prashant fixing a new light fixture

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Which alcohol should you buy in duty free before moving to India?

Family in Delhi think that I’m not much of a drinker. Shocking as that may sound to my yuppie drinking friends, the accusation is largely true. And I desperately want a drink. Yes, bolded. So, why the wannabe Gandhian stance?

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