They say that the grass is always green….. on the other side. A very old adage that is very very true. This is a tale of two smart, young men around 30 years old. I have interacted with both  and there is great similiarity between them. Both are  logical, data oriented, great at analysis & number crunching. Trustworthy & reliable. Not prone to job hopping, have spent long stints in the same company. Rare qualities to see in todays middle management workforce. For the sake of convenience lets call them Ram & Shyam.

Both were born in simple middle class families – Ram in small town Kottayam in the midst of God’s own country. Surrounded by serene backwaters and the swaying coconut palms. A land where every second house has an NRI.

and Shyam from Indias fastest growing state,  the land of  thepla, Garba & Dandia – the land of diamond merchants and stock brokers – Rajkot.

Both did well in school and completed their graduation in Commerce. The similiarity ends here.

Ram decided to move to Bangalore and joined a MNC in the finance function . After 5 years he changed his job and moved to a second large MNC . He did well and decided to change track from Finance to Business Intelligence & Product Management – which is what he currently excels in. In the interim he also completed his CA.

Shyam took a slightly different route. He decided to do an MBA from Paris. Took an internship at a large MNC in Paris and went on to become an employee of the same company in London. He has been at the same company since then and is responsible for  Business Intelligence for the entire region . He is on top of his work, and an asset to the organization.

Both have done well in their careers , are respected & valued for their contributions and would be among the top 10% when compared to their industry peers.

Both have bought a house at a young age and have a bright future ahead.

Now comes the dilemma. Given a choice Ram would like to move from Bangalore to London or Singapore or Dubai while Shyam is equally desperate to come back to India. I spoke at length to each of them and was able to empathize with them since I had to take a similar decision in 2002 , when we came back to India from Dallas. Lets look at the reasoning of Ram & Shyam.

 Top Reasons for Ram to move out from Bangalore 

1. Tired of the clutter , chaos & cacophony of Bangalore – Power Cuts , Garbage , Q’s . Not just Bangalore every large city is a mess. Would love to go back to small town in Kerala but there is no scope for livelihood there.

2. Financially I think I may be better of working for a few years abroad. My saving potential will be better.

3. My brother is in Singapore and my wife & me would like the experience of going abroad for a few years. Kids are small so there is no challenge at this stage.

4. The exposure to the work culture & professionalism in UK & Singapore would be a great learning.

 Top Reasons for Shyam to come back to India (Bangalore)

1.  Have done the same job for too long – monotonous, difficult to get a change. People here are expected to do the same job for eternity

2. Professionally feel a little aloof at times, cultural integration is an issue even in 2012 in the global world

3. We have to do everything by ourselves  – no Maids.

4. We miss the family and when we have kids we would love for them to be surrounded by relatives.

But somewhere deep down he does not want to sell his house in London suburbs.He still wants to keep some of his investments in GBP – and he did wait till he got his citizenship before evaluating coming back. In other words a safety net … just in case things did not work out in India.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if there were no Visa Restrictions for Indians. Would there be mass exodus ? Would Punjab , Harayana , Andhra , Kerala become ghost states ? Would 100 M or 200 M or even 500 M people rush out of the country ?

But for every youngster who wants to go there are many people coming back. Yes the folks coming back have established financial security and will probably come back to a world of fancy villas, multiple maids, drivers & International Schools.

What would my advice be to these two people? Tough one since they have compelling arguments to justify the change the seek.

It also makes me wonder which is the ideal place to settle down for the future  – what does one want  – Fresh Air, Clean water, Non Stop electricity, Good roads, Good Efficient Public Transport,  Public Health systems that function, Low Inflation , Affordability , Peace , Good schools, safety and security  – and I ask myself do we have this in India or Bangalore or any other city ? Do we have hope that we will have this in the next 10 – 20 years. Going by precedence things if any have gone worse, there was a time when as kids we could drink water from the railway station tap and cycle down the  road to buy vegetables & biscuits. Our kids today cant even step out of the road to the shop outside. We are lucky to live in a bubble . Education system is messed up and if you don’t have MONEY or POWER life is a struggle.

We need to ask ourselves why would millions of India rush out if there was a Visa free regimen ? So my answer to my young friends is quiet apparent. Think rationally , think of the future of your kids and take the right decision.

These are all Rational thoughts and if  you start bringing in the emotional quotient of family then the thought process does take a different turn. But each person has to do what is right for him.

So whats my recommendation – The final analogy is a harsh one – but truth is bitter. So here I go. You have two choices – Do you  want to live like a slightly underfed, slightly undernourished street pup that has the freedom to roam round in the city  or do you want to be a well fed, well groomed Alsatian on a LEASH. You decide 

All the best Guys !