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Why Do Indians Succeed More in the U.S. Than in India?

prasad1

Gold Member
Gold Member
This is in the news section. Here success is only material success so please no discussion about spiritual or other measures.
(Note that financial success does not mean success in other life domains. Do Indian immigrants have more fulfilling social lives? Are they more content? Or to drop the H-word, are they happier? These questions are equally important. I’ll address them in future blog posts).



This is dated 2014. It is an opinion. It may not be relevant now.

Some young Indians in India are so filthy rich, that they shame well to do Americans. (at least in my family).

Recently, I participated in a roundtable event with high-ranking educators from India and successful Indian-American business leaders. The topic we discussed was, Why are Indians who immigrate to the United States more successful professionally than those who remain?”

The question makes two significant assumptions. First, it assumes that Indian immigrants are more successful than those who don’t immigrate. And second, relevant to this blog, at least part of the explanation is believed to be psychological (which is why I was invited to participate in the event).

In this post, I want to unpack this question. To make the discussion manageable, I’ll focus only on Indian immigrants to the United States, even though the total Indian diaspora is far greater and widespread, and other US immigrant groups are bigger.

 
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OP
prasad1

prasad1

Gold Member
Gold Member

Are Indian immigrants to the US successful?

The answer is clearly “yes” no matter which benchmark we use. More than 75 percent of current first-generation Indian-Americans have immigrated to the United States since the 1990s. They make up only about 1 percent of the US population (3.9 million as of 2017) but have disproportionate numbers of professionals such as physicians, corporate executives, and successful entrepreneurs. Their median annual household income is $100,000, which is significantly higher than other immigrant groups or the US population as a whole.


If we compare these numbers to Indian non-immigrants, the income differences are even larger. As an example, college-educated Indians in India have a household income that is a small fraction of $100,000. Based on these statistics, it seems fair to say that as a group, Indian immigrants to the US are financially successful.


(Note that financial success does not mean success in other life domains. Do Indian immigrants have more fulfilling social lives? Are they more content? Or to drop the H-word, are they happier? These questions are equally important. I’ll address them in future blog posts).

Why are they successful?

They came to America’s shores with only the clothes on their backs and hope welling in their hearts. They slogged away for decades in obscurity and misery, grasping every sliver of opportunity. They lifted themselves up by their bootstraps out of American gutters. Time passed, watered by the sweat streaming off their backs. They scrimped, they saved, penny after penny. After decades of blinding toil, they were earning six-figure incomes. America transformed the huddled unwashed masses of Indians who reached its shores into prosperous business leaders and yuppies who shone as “model immigrants.”


Alas, riveting and uplifting as such a narrative sounds, it is false.

The fact is the success of Indian immigrants can be attributed to a three-level selection process. The first level is education. According to the Immigration Policy Institute, 77 percent of Indian American adults have a college degree. In comparison, only 29 percent of all immigrants and 31 percent of native-born Americans are college graduates. Very few uneducated Indians make it to the US. Organizational psychologists even have a name for this type of immigrants; they are called “qualified immigrants.”


The second level of selection is the arduous and lengthy immigration process. Most first-generation Indian-Americans come to the US as students, go on to get a job with an H1-B visa (which involves a lottery), and eventually, after many years, become permanent residents and then US citizens. The entire process is fraught with uncertainty. It vets aspiring immigrants. The people who hang in there from beginning to end are optimistic and gritty. What’s more, because they come as students, they have more opportunities to interact with native-born Americans and consume American culture from their very first day on American soil than other immigrants. This helps them to assimilate and build social capital along the way (if they want to).


The third and perhaps the most significant selection is in who the immigrants are. As authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld point out, “the great majority of Indian immigrants in America come from the upper echelons of India’s social hierarchy.” Most of them are from higher castes, which means they have access to influential social networks both in India and in the US. These are the people likely to succeed financially no matter whether they stay in India or immigrate. Because of these three selection processes, the typical Indian-American is starkly different from the typical Indian or native-born American.


What should we conclude?

Only that we shouldn’t read too much into the financial success of Indian-Americans. Nor should we belittle the Indians who couldn’t or chose not to immigrate to the United States, or elsewhere, or the other immigrant and native-born US groups who have lower incomes. As psychologists have found, a significant chunk of a person’s success in any domain, including financial success, is dictated by their luck. This includes the fortune of their birth.

 

renuka

Gold Member
Gold Member
When in new land, initially all work hard to reach the tops..wait for a few more generations..the drive will dip.
Its very common even in super rich families where the kids wont be as motivated as their elders becos they are just way too comfortable.

Its justs natures cycle of rising up..hitting plateau after a while..or if over indulgence then its either destruction or renunciation.
 

tbs

Well-known member
When in new land, initially all work hard to reach the tops..wait for a few more generations..the drive will dip.
Its very common even in super rich families where the kids wont be as motivated as their elders becos they are just way too comfortable.

Its justs natures cycle of rising up..hitting plateau after a while..or if over indulgence then its either destruction or renunciation.
hi doctor,

When in new land, initially all work hard to reach the tops..wait for a few more generations..the drive will dip.

i agreed...this will dip in third or forth generation....surely....we can see now itself.....in second/

third generations.....its new land for first generation....
 

renuka

Gold Member
Gold Member
hi doctor,

When in new land, initially all work hard to reach the tops..wait for a few more generations..the drive will dip.

i agreed...this will dip in third or forth generation....surely....we can see now itself.....in second/

third generations.....its new land for first generation....

Its a normal cycle..then we would see a new group of immigrants making it big.

Natures way of balancing everything so that resources are evenly shared in the world.

It happens to countries too..India..Iran ..Egypt all had a golden ancient past.
Then Europe took over and currently USA but mostly China Japan too still ruling the roost.

Subsahara Africa havent had their golden era yet..eventually they too will experience one.

God is a master planner..no one can be persistently high or persistently low.
Nature always seeks balance.
 

Jaymal

New member
Indian have a 'forced" sincerity to their work which is usually driven by the innate fear of losing it the competition and need for " social show off". example: If i do not become a doctor how would i survive and what would my family/friends think of me.

So when they arrive to USA, this unique combination of work discipline/ethic combined with unlimited support/resources USA has to offer and tremendous social and material gains drive them to give their best.
 

Jaymal

New member
Indian have a 'forced" sincerity to their work which is usually driven by the innate fear of losing it the competition and need for " social show off". example: If i do not become a doctor how would i survive and what would my family/friends think of me.

So when they arrive to USA, this unique combination of work discipline/ethic combined with unlimited support/resources USA has to offer and tremendous social and material gains drive them to give their best.
BTW, I was looking at your very old post about animals and karma. I found it fascinating that you were thinking about it in 2014 what i'm getting puzzled about these days. In any case, that mystery is not solved for me. When something happens to animals, its "random" and same thing happens to humans it's 'karma".
This is one among a several I have e.g. why our sages who did tapasyas for years would not have realized that Moksha is the way to go rather then asking for some " vardaans" like being victorious etc. You would think that a person so enlightened to endure tapsya for years would know not to return to human Misérable vicious cycle. .. just a thought.

Thank you for sharing your very probing and unbiased observations
 

tbs

Well-known member
Its a normal cycle..then we would see a new group of immigrants making it big.

Natures way of balancing everything so that resources are evenly shared in the world.

It happens to countries too..India..Iran ..Egypt all had a golden ancient past.
Then Europe took over and currently USA but mostly China Japan too still ruling the roost.

Subsahara Africa havent had their golden era yet..eventually they too will experience one.

God is a master planner..no one can be persistently high or persistently low.
Nature always seeks balance.
hi doctor,

God is a master planner..no one can be persistently high or persistently low.
Nature always seeks balance.

nice words...thanks....its reality too...
 
OP
prasad1

prasad1

Gold Member
Gold Member
Asian-Indian Immigrants and Their Children in America


Historical Background​


In 1965, the United States Congress liberalized laws that severely restricted Asian immigration. The Immigration Reform Act of 1965 was framed as an amendment to the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, under which a quota system giving preference to skilled laborers and relatives of US citizens was articulated . This legislative action made a tremendous change. While there were only a few thousand Asian-Indians living in the United States in the 1960’s, by the mid 1980s, over 300,000 Asian Indians had emigrated from India.

These foreigners, termed “new immigrants,” distinguishing them from the “old immigrants” of European descent, were highly educated, skilled professionals, and came predominantly from the urban middle class. Given the immigrants’ status within their country, what motivated them to leave?

In the case of Asian Indians, an overwhelming majority responded to financial factors. However, “such a generalization does not do justice to the complexities of the issue.” Although Asian-Indians did leave for financial reasons, they also left for professional, educational, and social opportunities. For many Asian Indians, emigration was thought prestigious.

Financially, a professional working in the United States could make more than double their annual income in India. The conversion of capital from dollar to rupees combined with the desire to support family members in India financially made emigration attractive. Professionally, bureaucratic rules, bribes, and unfavorable working conditions hindered largely sought after career advancement. Moreover, Asian-Indians have placed a great emphasis on foreign education. The colonial authority of the British Raj engrained in the Indian mentality that foreign education is better than indigenous training.

Ethnicity, Culture, & Family​


In his 1782 article, “What Is an American?,” Frenchman J.Hector St. John Crevecoeur wrote, “He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.” Since 1782, the definitions of Americans have drastically changed. Although the post 1965 Indian-American has adhered to the new government, they have simultaneously transplanted their cultural and religious heritage, and have integrated them into their distinct bicultural lifestyle. Because Indian-Americans face aspects of both American and Indian culture in day-to-day life, Indian-American culture is notably compartmentalized in its current form.

Indian-American Identity


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image003.gif
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Pan-Indian Component Non-Indian Component




BSCP Local Community Component BSCP



Religion, Family, Home BSCP

NOTE
: BSCP stands for Business, Social, Cultural, and Political.

The Indian-American identity is divided into three compartments: the Pan-Indian Compartment, the Non-Indian Compartment, and the Local-Community Compartment. Each division serves a unique business, social, cultural, and political role within the United States. Conflicts in Indian-American life are a largely a result of these compartments.

First-Generation Indian-Americans (“New Immigrants”)

First generation Indian-Americans are acutely aware of readily apparent cultural differences. The family becomes a battlefield where modernity clashes with tradition, where Indian culture clashes with American culture, and where theory clashes with practice. American culture becomes the basis for interactions outside the home. Inside the home, first-generation Indian-Americans attempt to preserve their cultural and religious heritage and expect to live according to Indian cultural values. For example, women are expected to maintain the household (cooking, cleaning, childrearing, etc) in addition to holding part-time or even full-time job economically mandated by them in the United States. However, the hierarchies of age and gender patterns based on traditional Indian values are broken along the lines of compromise.

Second-Generation Indian-Americans

For second-generation Indian Americans, “the sensation of being the in-betweens is particularly accentuated.” Like their parents, the second-generation Indian American also compartmentalizes his/her life. At home and within the local community component they are governed by the compromised Indian lifestyle developed by their parents and the broader community. Conflicts typically arise from the cultural clash of American Individualism vs. Indian communitarianism. For example, a second-generation Indian-American’s desire to pursue an undergraduate degree in the fine arts will not be supported by the family. Career decisions are based on their impact on the family’s financial well being, not the individual’s.

Third Generation Indian-Americans


Thus far, research on Indian-Americans has been limited to the first and second generation because data regarding the third is unavailable. There are several directions the third generation might go.

The first scenario rests on the observation that traditional languages are being lost. A majority of second-generation Indian-Americans are illiterate when it comes to the native language that comprises their local-community component. Although they are able to speak the language, they are unable to write or read it. The linguistic divisions that differentiate sub-communities will slowly disappear. A result of this development will be pan-Indian marriages that will blur the distinction between the pan-Indian compartment and the local community compartment. The local-community compartment will lose its business, social, cultural and political forces by becoming integrated into its similar pan-Indian compartment component.

In the second scenario, the key observation is that there are a growing number of local community groups within the Indian-American subculture. These groups cater to the local community compartment of the Indian-American identity. The Gujarati Cultural Association of Bay Area in California has a membership of over three thousand families. Given its numbers it is unlikely that this organization will lose its collective force. Marriage my happen within the local community and participants will remain members. This depends, to a large degree, on the second-generation Indian-Americans and the culture they bestow upon their children.

Concluding Remarks​


The relaxation of immigration laws in 1965 paved the way for Indian-Americans to immigrate to the United States. Attempting to preserve their religious and cultural heritage, these first-generation Indian Americans erected temples and formed local organizations representative of the subcultures (Sindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali) from which they came. Parents exposed their children to those subcultures through functions hosted by these organizations and within the home. The second-generation Indian-American assumed the culture of both their parents and the larger American culture that surrounds them. The compartments that arise from the cultural clash force the second-generation to pick one culture over the other giving rise to a distinct set of bicultural Indian-American values that will be passed to the third generation. The value system and culture of the second generation is still unclear. Determining the value system that of the third generation is mere speculation.

Bibliography​


Helweg, Arthur. An immigrant success story : East Indians in America. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990

Lessinger, Johanna. From the Ganges to the Hudson : Indian immigrants in New York City. Boston : Allyn and Bacon, c1995


 
OP
prasad1

prasad1

Gold Member
Gold Member
Although every immigrant’s tale is remarkable, that of Indians coming to the United States over the past 50 years is unique on several fronts. Demographically, Indians represent the current largest source of new immigrants to America, surpassing even Mexicans or Chinese. Sociologically, they are by far the best educated group in the country — roughly three times more India-born residents have college degrees than the general population.

But the most striking distinction may be their economic status: Indian-American households have the single highest income level of any group in the country — more than twice as high as the general US population.

Devesh Kapur discussed the numbers and reason behind the Indian-American distinctions in a 2017 guest lecture presented by the Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University. “How did the population of one of the world’s poorest countries become the richest group in the United States?” he asked rhetoricall

A professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of The Other One Percent: Indians in America (Oxford University Press, 2017), Kapur said: “What we learned in researching this book is that Indians in America did not resemble any other population anywhere; not the Indian population in India, nor the native population in the United States, nor any other immigrant group from any other nation.”

New data, released in October 2020, reveals that Indians in the United States are not immune to poverty. Census data shows that 6.5 percent of Indian-American households live below the poverty line. In addition, the report says, COVID-19 could add another 1.4 to 3.4 percent to their ranks, especially for people who work in industries hard-hit by the recession and pandemic, such as restaurants.

The Three Waves​

The 3 million individuals of Indian origin who currently reside in the United States (roughly 1 percent of the total population) arrived in three distinct periods, Kapur said. The “early movers” came in the wake of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which replaced a national-origins quota system that governed immigration in the United States with a preference based on skills and family relationships. The 12,000 or so India-born immigrants a year arriving in this group were unusually well educated, with numbers favoring doctors, engineers and scientists.

Phase two of Indian immigration, dating from the early 1980s, was the “family” cohort, when some 30,000 relatives a year of those who had settled in the States came in.

About two-thirds of India-born Americans have arrived in the ongoing third wave, or what Kapur and his co-authors dubbed “the IT generation.” The influx of as many as 100,000 computer specialists a year from India began with concerns over Y2K in the mid 1990s, as American companies sought to revamp their systems to avoid “millennial meltdown” when computers programmed with a two-digit date code would have to cope with the dates of the 21st century. Approximately one out of every three visas issued to India-born immigrants goes to residents of the high-tech Hyderabad area, far more than to individuals from Bombay or Delhi, for example.

A central thesis of the book argues that how immigrants come to the United States matters in determining their eventual success. Most recent Indian immigrants arrived on the so-called H-1B visa program, granted to specialized new hires who have already secured jobs and hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. The visa, which can be extended for up to six years, indicates that the holder will graduate to immigrant status. (Kapur estimated that 90 percent of India-born immigrants have stayed in the United States as permanent residents.) From 1997 to 2013, according to the book, fully half of the 125,000 H-1B visas issued went to Indians. “The rest of the world got the other half.”

Arriving with jobs and steady sources of income, Indians skipped the “ghetto stage” common to most immigrant stories, when newcomers settle in urban enclaves with other home-country refugees. Instead, the India-influx located close to their jobs, living in middle-class or pricier neighborhoods in techy communities, such as the New York-New-Jersey area, Chicago and Washington, D.C. suburbs, and the outskirts of San Francisco and Dallas. Almost without exception, they started families and primed their children to receive similar levels of educational achievement.

 
When in new land, initially all work hard to reach the tops..wait for a few more generations..the drive will dip.
Its very common even in super rich families where the kids wont be as motivated as their elders becos they are just way too comfortable.

Its justs natures cycle of rising up..hitting plateau after a while..or if over indulgence then its either destruction or
 
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When in new land, initially all work hard to reach the tops..wait for a few more generations..the drive will dip.
Its very common even in super rich families where the kids wont be as motivated as their elders becos they are just way too comfortable.

Its justs natures cycle of rising up..hitting plateau after a while..or if over indulgence then its either destruction or
renunciation.
Sociology books call it the Kennedy family syndrome. In general, one generation works hard to build the empire. The second generation adds to it as they watch the hardworking of the first generation. The third generation barely keeps it as the first generation pampers and ruins the grandchildren. The fourth generation loses it all. I remember talking to an young teller in a bank (entry level, per hour type job) in Cincinnati and told her she has a unique name. She told me that it is from a very famous person on whose name a street in Cincinnati is also named.
Again, when we look at the third or fourth generation, the number of descendants are very large (this is the inverted tree concept - just two folks managed to produce all those descendants, hard to believe :) ) and obviously only few will excel and many will become mediocre.
 
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