Transfering skills upon return: matching aspirations in the host countries with the reality back in India
This chapter discusses the factors that influence the development aspirations of skilled Indians living in Europe and those who have returned to India. While India is seen as a country that benefits from the positive effects of skilled migration, it lacks a comprehensive understanding of the individual motivations of skilled Indians and the best way to use the knowledge and skills these people have acquired abroad for the benefit of the home country. There is also a shortage of information concerning whether these motivations actually materialise after return. We provide a quantitative and qualitative analysis grounded on the perceptions and expectations of skilled Indians and we look at the individual and home country factors that influence both their development aspirations and the changes in their social and professional position after they return to India. While skilled Indians in Europe link their development aspirations to their return plans and believe that Indian society can benefit from their accrued expertise, they face several obstacles during the process of transferring knowledge to the local context. The study shows that the desire to contribute to development is associated with disadvantageous identities and that socially underprivileged people are those who register the greatest positive effects in terms of social position and who attain an influential role in the society as a result of their foreign exposure. The findings suggest important policy implications for India and the European countries. Our conclusion is that significant changes should be made to the local work culture and structures, and policies and environments need to be enabled in order to facilitate the transfer of the knowledge that skilled migrants accumulate overseas so that it can be used to promote balanced development in India.