Lured by the prospect of climbing to the top of his field, New Delhi native Swaroop Ganguly came to the U.S. 10 years ago and earned a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. He became an expert in an emerging technology called spintronics, used to power semiconductors, and worked at several chip companies, including Freescale Semiconductor. But Ganguly, now 32, is moving back to India this summer. Although he has been doing postdoctoral work at the University of Texas, he figures his prospects for research and professional development are probably better in his home country. "I feel quite excited about going back," he says.
Ganguly has already accepted a job as a professor of electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. The position will pay a fraction of the salary he had been earning in the private sector—about $15,000 compared with $100,000—but it will offer considerably more job security and the freedom to do the exploratory research he wants to do. "The real lure of being in the U.S. is to do really innovative work, but the space for that seems to be shrinking," he says. "The Indian government is putting a huge amount of funding into science and technology, so even if they can't pay high salaries, it's an attractive prospect."
Ganguly is one of a number of highly skilled immigrants preparing to leave the U.S. as the nation's economy slows. With the U.S. unemployment rate approaching double digits, job opportunities are diminishing and calls to restrict immigration have gotten louder. Those who favor tightening the rules argue that U.S. citizens should get first priority for jobs.
A Blow to Prospects for Economic Recovery
But the issue is tricky when it comes to the most educated and skilled immigrants—people like Ganguly. When well-paid individuals leave the country, that cuts into already depleted tax revenues for state and local governments. The departure of top talent in technology and science may also undercut the prospects for a recovery in the U.S., many economists say. These immigrants often start companies and come up with technological breakthroughs, creating new job opportunities for all.
"We benefit from a flow of really smart people coming here to work in our companies and start new ones," says David Hart, a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., who co-authored a study on immigrant entrepreneurship released this month. "It's important that the U.S. remain a magnet for people who fuel innovation and growth."http://www.businessweek.com/print/bwdaily/dnflash/content/jul2009/db20090724_178761.htm
People are constantly telling me, "The India peoplez are gonna take yer jerb!!" It hasn't happened yet, and I don't think it's going to. ReturnPath outsourced some stuff when I was there, it didn't stop them from hiring more people. If anything, it seemed it allowed the company to focus more on the hard problems, and to do that they needed to hire more people in their US office.
So hearing that all the smart Indian guys are going back to India worries me. I know that not all of them are great engineers. (Great engineers are always a pretty small percent of any graduating class, regardless of where the class graduates.) But any time we lose engineers I get worried.