From The National (Abu Dhabi)
By Sean Randolph
Throughout history, diaspora have reflected economic or political disruptions, ultimately enriching the receiving countries. California’s Silicon Valley’s dynamic churn is the latest example, just as many Chinese and Indian migrants are returning home, ready to lay a new foundation for technological innovation and economic growth.
For some Chinese, immigration to the US reflected despair in the wake of Tiananmen; for others, it represented economic opportunity at a time of economic stagnation. Indians left for similar reasons, although less political: India’s economy offered little future for the talented and ambitious, while opportunities abroad promised a better life. Seeking jobs and education, many of the best and brightest came to Silicon Valley....
By 1986, almost 60 per cent of Indian Institute of Technology engineering graduates were migrating overseas, mostly to Silicon Valley. Research by AnnaLee Saxenian at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Information found that by 1990 a third of the San Francisco Bay Area’s science and engineering workforce was foreign born. A quarter of its engineers, some 28,000, were Indian, more than half of whom held advanced degrees. By 1998, as the tech boom neared its peak, 774 of the 11,443 tech firms started since 1980 had Indian chief executives. Between 1995 and 2005, 15 per cent of Silicon Valley start-ups were launched by Indians – the largest number for any immigrant group.