The U.S. of A has had a special place in the hearts of urban Indians. Since childhood, I have seen many of my playmates, schoolmates and neighbors "disappear" into this "promised land", only to reappear after many years--in a new, Americanized avatar. As a teenager, I watched my peers write to universities, and sit for SAT, TOEFL and GRE. And if they still didn't manage to catch the flight to the U.S., many of them used the matrimonial route to accomplish their great American dream.
Clearly, Indians have been obsessed with the U.S. for many decades. Whether it was for career opportunities or for education, money or lifestyle, the U.S. was always the "better" place to be.
But, during this decade, we have seen many Indians settled in the U.S. return to their homeland. Earlier, it was the employers who encouraged them to go to India to set up Indian operations; later, they (themselves) opted for India (seeing much of the work getting offshored to India, in any case). And today, it seems like they have little choice but apply for jobs back here. The action is here; while the U.S. economy lies in doldrums.
Today, not many people living in India would want to trade places with people settled in the United States. Headhunters point out that companies in India are no longer as interested in hiring returnees as they were, say, five years back. If someone has worked abroad for more than seven years, they are often found unfit to work in "resurgent India". Besides, returnees don't earn a fatter pay packet compared to local talent. And post the financial meltdown, many Indians working in the financial services industry may have little choice but to take up jobs in India at far lower salaries than what they were earning in the United States.
Are Indians still as crazy about America as they were before? While the queues outside the American embassy may have become shorter, there's still time before we can safely conclude that the Indian craze for the Yankee-land is waning.