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2min title - Journal of Identity and Migration Studies...

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Journal of Identity and Migration Studies Volume 1, number 2, 2007 99 The Factors that Affect Indian Migrants' Decision to Stay in or Counter Migrate from the United States: A Study with Special Reference to the Role of Tourism Related Imagery as a Determinant Babu P. GEORGE and Anuratha SHYAMSUNDAR Abstract: In the light of the changing socio-economic realities of the present times, this paper explores the complex dynamics underlying Indian immigrants' decision to continue to stay in the United States or to counter migrate back to India. In a reversal of fortunes, the specific set of conditions that once triggered a massive inflow of economic migrants from India to the US has been causing a counter migration to India. Based on a review of literature and an exploratory study involving focus groups the paper identifies some of the major migration / counter migration related factors. Then, employing a survey, the relative importance of each of these factors is gauged for individuals associated with different professions. In addition, the study explores as a special case the role of tourism related images about the US being held by immigrants as determinants of their migration related decisions. Tourism images held by the migrants and the tourism opportunities provided by the US act more as hygiene factors than as motivators. In course of the exploration, a number of hypotheses are emerged that are of interest to future researchers. The study has got significant implications for migration / counter migration policy makers, industry practitioners, and the migrants themselves. Keywords: Determinants of migration and counter migration; tourism-migration inter-relationship; work and tourism; focus group; life history of migrants; implications for policy; USA; and India. Introduction In many parts of India, it is rare to find a family without at least a single migrant (Mosse et al , 2002). There exist two major types of outbound migration from India (Pandey, 1996): firstly, the migration of people with technical skills and professional expertise to countries such as the USA, Canada, UK and Australia; secondly, the migration of unskilled and semi-skilled workers to oil exporting countries of the Middle East. Most migrants in either category come from the
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Babu P. GEORGE, Anuratha SHYAMSUNDAR JIMS - Volume 1, number 2, 2007 100 southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, in addition to the northern state of Punjab. In percentages, it is just one percent of the Indian population that has migrated so far; yet, the consequences to the sending regions are myriad. India’s massive investment in higher education, particularly technology, during the past decades has resulted in large numbers of the highly trained personnel willing and seeking to work abroad. The US has emerged far and above its competitors as the number one choice for immigration, although there exists a great deal of competition amongst developed nations for India's highly trained workforce. In addition to technical competence, cultural openness, willingness to
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