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Academic Links in India

India Hands
by Corey

My adventure in India began well before the MV Explorer left port in Ensenada, Mexico.  During the summer of 2006, I attended the London School of Economics in order to study an anthropological approach to financial institutions.  The first day of orientation turned out to be more than just buying books and meeting our professors.  My orientation consisted of meeting an array of European, American, and Asian students, both young and old, all at different stages in their academic lives or careers.  Amongst this motley crew was Sid, a 26 year old Indian who eagerly greeted this nervous American with the utmost spirit.  Before I knew it I was tossed into a late model BMW with a few friends and we were off for an evening of fine dining and dynamic conversation.  Assembling the pieces as they were sent my way, I soon realized that I was dining with the nephew of the finance minister of India!


I tell this portion in order to provide a general background, for Sid will single-handedly serve as an excellent example of migration.  Having traveled to over 40 countries, this Indian has seen his fare share of the world.  However, a recurring theme has developed in regards to the purpose of such travels: marriage.  Over half of the countries crossed off his list hosted a wedding of either a friend or family member, some reaching upwards of 20,000 in attendance.  Prominent Indians seem to have spread to the far corners of the globe, perhaps based on colonial ties or maybe for economic opportunities.  Sid has attended Indian weddings everywhere from Malaysia to London, Kazakhstan to Japan.


Another theme worthy of some discussion focuses on the issue of higher education.  According to both Sid and another friend I had originally met in London and had time to catch up with in Chennai, elite Indians are dying to get out of India in the name of education.  Suzanne McMahon emphasizes this point in her brief compilation of Indian migratory themes entitled the “South Asian Diaspora”.  Her work notes the original movement of low skilled labor groups to London in search of factory jobs, a trend that amidst a colonial past has created institutionalized ties between the two countries.  In contrast to the original labor motivations, the world of academia has become the driving migratory force of many aspiring Indians.   This results in a serious flux of Indians in British universities, much like where I met Sid.  Colonial ties have paved the way for such migration while the potential to master the English language serves as a common draw.  Weddings and university take Indians around the world; ironically as the world’s IT boom brings powerful Foreign Direct Investment to India.

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