Answer by Debarghya Das:
Having been schooled in an American elementary school for 7 years, Indian middle and high school for 7 years and returned to college in the US for what has been 2 years now, I feel like I have acquired some knowledge to answer this question.
Many of the important points have already been brought up here, but here's what I have to add:
- Toughening up
I am of the opinion that kids in US high schools live a sheltered existence. They're in their own little shell of how the world is like. When I went to school there, I'm ashamed to say that I was too. They simply don't care about the rest of the world. It's quite amazing, really. Everything from their sports and their system of units to their culture or geography, they are unimaginably oblivious to the rest of the world. As a 5th grader ready to move to India, I myself realized that I had never even imagined a lifestyle besides the one I had been in all this while. I thought India was an abode of lots of brown people, cows, and snake charmers. This is what growing up in the US does to you.
What's great about America is pretty much everything – their infrastructure, their lifestyle, and also the fact that people from so many different racial backgrounds can co-exist. However, this often leads to an identity crisis. If you're anything like what I was, the term identity crisis sounds like jargon to you. But it is a big deal. Knowing about who you are is a big deal. Indian children in America grow up with no identity. Are they American? Are they Indian? If they are American, why are they not white? Why can they not do all these American things? How come all their family friends are Indian? If they are Indian, what makes them so? Do they know anything about life in India? No. Should they? Probably. This makes them partake in a bunch of random pseudo-Indian activities (which is great), but makes them really fake. Without any great passion or association to Indian classical music, maybe one of their parents forced them to learn the tabla. I can go on. Point is, growing up in India is what makes you Indian. Not a citizenship card, not a NRI or PIO stamp, not anything else. You have to experience gully cricket, Goa, know Hindi, get an Indian accent, go through Indian schooling, watch Indian movies – it's a cultural thing. It's something that sticks with you for life – knowing where you're really from – your roots.
Besides this, I want to dispel some doubts people have about an Indian upbringing:
- America presents more opportunities than India does
You didn't mention this explicitly but it's an argument many have for not going back to India. For one, yes, it's probably true. India is a harder place to be successful in. However, as pointed out in other answers, you can always go back to the US for higher education and eventually settle there.
- "What about the filth, narrow-mindedness, overpopulation, child sex abuse, VIP culture, lack of civic sense, caste-based reservations, no value for human life?"
India is not homogeneous, buddy. Yes, it can be filthy, gross, sweaty and overpopulated, but you know what? You take away something from it. Because I lived life in those conditions, I appreciate everything about a developed country so much more. The filth won't kill you, the sweat won't kill you, and the people won't asphyxiate you. Growing up in a perfect house with a perfect car where nothing is dirty and people are few and far between might kill your satisfaction later in life though.
Caste-based reservations, you say? Yeah, they suck. You think the US doesn't have racial reservation? They're just silent about it. Do you want to explain to me why the standards for Asians getting into college in America is far far higher than Blacks?
No value for human life? Indians aren't inhuman by culture. Growing up in a place where there's fewer resources than there are people makes poverty more prone. We see that day in and day out. We're bound to adapt to it. It doesn't mean we don't value life. We don't panic when a bomb goes off and start blaming everybody like they do in the US because we have bigger problems at hand.
Narrow-mindedness? The way you think should not be a characteristic of where you live.
It's easy to point out your countries problems and cite them as a reason for not going back, but it's taking the easy way out. Your childhood shouldn't be a breeze – it should be hard, and fun. That way, you can spend the rest of your life trying to make it better, and appreciating the fruits of your labor. Your kids show grow up in India to know what it's problems are, so maybe someday when he's successful and a dad, he can go back and help out.