Protectionism and Migration

The New York Times has an article on how foreign students wishing to study for higher degrees in the sciences are facing trouble when they seek visas: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/science/03visa.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1 

Ah. Things haven’t changed much since I first stood in line for a visa to come to the US in 2003. The guy in front of me had turned been turned away; I figured it helped that I was going in for Literature, that I was single, female and Hindu. How dangerous could I be, after all?

But, isn’t this what any nation wants when it is trying to be protective? A field of empty seats for its own? Fewer foreign students and less money for aid now will mean fewer H1-B visas to consider after the few who do come graduate. And those will be from the desired nations.

The list of blacklisted countries is extremely interesting. I wonder why “China, India, Middle East and Eastern Europe” are the ones underscored; where’s Pakistan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Somalia, Egypt…? Are certain countries to be barred from ‘sharing’ the American pool of knowledge and its scimitar-sceptre? Is this the answer to a certain European businessman’s call for the West to band together against the rise of the East? A political decoupling aimed at new alignments in geopolitcs in the next ten years–the ones who shall rise by their own hand, the ones who shall fall by their own, and those that shall be considered Other-enemy because they shall be arrayed against the first? The touchstone shall be knowledge; spin the centrifuge (pardon the mixed metaphors) and all nations shall find their own kind.

In the meanwhile, if the blacklisted countries are careful, they can reap their own harvest. Can it be bad for India that the minds that it educated for a pittance and sent away to enrich another nation’s soil shall trickle back home?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/100000-Indians-will-return-from-US-in-next-3-5-years/articleshow/4211259.cms
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bw/20090303/bs_bw/feb2009tc20090228990934

Of course, not all of the returnees shall bring back skilled labor. And those who are forced to return may not come back with any love to spare. But they will come back to find a viable life among the billion natives who now feel they can pressure politicians to change their ways.
They will be the new ‘immigrants.’

Certainly, the ‘newcomers’ will want communication and the ability to be entrepreneurs and creators of socio-cultural capital in the old land, too. If the country is able to tempt them into investing back in the homeland, India will profit beyond measure. If it doesn’t, it would be better for it to submit and learn from China.The opportunity is up for grabs.

The rest of Asia is thinking, too. What Tamamoto says about Japan’s “Crisis of the Mind” may not apply point for point to India. (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/02/opinion/02tamamoto.html?em)
But India will have a great need for skilled middle-class labor, and what applies to Japan should apply to India. We have to tempt the immigrants back and ensure that those who return invest wholeheartedly in change.

 

 

 


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