Indian Americans are now being looked at by the local media in the US. In the last many years, specifically from the late 1990s to now, the Indian Americans have grown in numbers but more so in wealth and consumer influence.
There was a strong rush into the US, during the time of Y2K issues. A lot of programmer came to help the companies. Most stayed on as they morphed in other areas of programming. A lot of them also came to implement the ERPs, projects for which were started to take care of the Y2K issue as well.
Now, that set of Indians have settled and settled well. Most have gotten their coveted “Green Cards” (permanent residence) and a substantial number have become US citizens as well. Suddenly, these well earning citizens become very important.
They still have roots back home and in many cases, for some reason or the other – property investment or for helping their parents – they do send money home as well. That is one reason why Banks are targeting them.
That is why, I wasn’t very surprised when I walked into a Citibank branch in Katy – a suburb of Houston – and saw the picture for Diwali pasted all over the branch in its advertisement. To the non-Indians, this may seem like a couple enjoying themselves with some firework but to Indians it has a distinct meaning. And that is what they are working on. In fact, in this holiday season they have chosen to target and address the Indians in the area.
This is a growing trend. I had recently seen a big bill board from Wells Fargo with an ad in “Hinglish” – like the ones that are often put up in India. And that was on one of the busiest roads West of Houston (Highway 6).
Indian Americans are good for the economy. The Employment rate has been high, the income levels are high. Most have paid off their houses – most of my friends have. And they have surplus cash even in these times. So it makes good sense to target them. Interestingly, I haven’t seen that kind of addressing of the Pakistani community here. The Pakistani community in the last 20 years has not been comprised of professionals but businessmen or people doing odd jobs. The way doctors and engineers used to come (high quality ones at that) from Pakistan in the 1970s and 1980s, that is not happening as much now. Earlier the proportions of Indian doctors and engineers and the Pakistani ones would be very close, but in the last 2 deacdes, while India saw an IT boom and sent many of its sons and daughters here, Pakistanis couldn’t match up. Instead their community became increasingly linked to extremism and terrorism.