Friday, July 13, 2007

NRB Disillusionments

During my recent trip to Silicon Valley, I repeatedly asked my Non Resident Bangladeshi friends to at least think about working in Bd. So, how badly does Bd need skilled managerial, business and IT skills? Example: there are at least 100,000 Indians who hold high-paid jobs in Bangladesh (BOI has issued 65000 work visas to Indians, and the rest are there temporarily or with other visas). While I do not begrudge them one bit - they bring a lot of value to our businesses (eg, Unilever Bd, headed by a group of Indians, is one of the most profitable branches of Unilever) - surely, this number indicates the need for talent, right?

Guess what I repeatedly heard back from my NRB friends? "Yeah, sure, they will pay Indians or other foreigners well, but as soon as they see another Bangladeshi - no matter how much American experience they have - Bangladeshi organizations will not want to pay high salaries."

Is this really true? Anyone have real experiences? Certainly my short experience with the BD IT sector indicates otherwise - there was no end to the ways in which the IT community made me feel welcome back home - but maybe I am an exception or did not have grand enough expectations?

While in Singapore, I was talking with another friend, originally from Bangladesh, who used to work for a US-based Fortune 100 company. As an executive of this company, he had spent 2.5 years pursuing a grand vision for a manufacturing plant in Bangladesh which, in the end, had come to naught. He fought battles both internal (so-and-so Minister asking for Ghush, being tripped up by powerful businessmen, etc) and external (forces at his multinational which did not want this large work going to Bangladesh.) As I lobbied him yet again to consider a position in Bd, he shook his head, saying the experience had left him with too much bitter taste.

So... what gives? A serious impedance mismatch? Can't this be fixed? Is this our Khaislat?


Farhad said...

What if you adopt a country, like you adopt a child, and that country becomes yours ? Your birth country could still be there, and you may feel for it, but that's not your country. Many of our forefathers actively sought out new land because that land offered them opportunities, respect and hope. They were given a new nationality and equal rights (at least in theory) as every other citizen living on that land. Will he not then embrace that land as it has embraced him ?

For centuries it happened in the other direction, maybe at times forceably. The white North Americans, Australians and South Africans are prime examples.

We made conscious choices to take up citizenship of a different nation because we got something back in return. How about thinking about our new adopted country for a change ? If there are things I don't like, I as a citizen of my adopted country am entitled to work towards changing it. It is refreshing to see when Anwar Chowdhury talks about 'my country' he means United Kingdom and not Bangladesh. And he is a first generation British citizen. How many of us are confident enough to do that ?


ulysses said...

Hi Farhad,

Good point. Thanks for your post.

Bidesh to Bdesh said...

Well, I guess I will find out pretty soon if what your friends say is true. Wish me luck.

Great blog, by the way. Love it.