Can 'Boomerang' Immigrant Go Home Again?

Ann All

Globalization has made it possible for ambitious and hard-working people like Muktesh Meka, a 39-year-old entrepreneur who left his native India to attend a U.S. college in 1991 and later established a successful Web site, to seek their fortunes far from home.


Indeed, according to a Duke University/University of California at Berkeley study published last January, a quarter of technology and engineering start-ups -- 52 percent in Silicon Valley -- are founded by immigrants.


Yet the global economy could also make him a stranger in his own land. Meka, who just started his second business, a social networking site for Indians, is preparing to return to his home country after 16 years away. And, he tells San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy, "I don't know if I will be able to fit in there."


Meka's 10-year-old daughter is worried about assimilating into what will be a new culture for her. It will be "a very tough thing to adjust," predicts Meka, who also has a 3-year-old son.


Surely Meka and his family will meet this challenge, just as they met the earlier challenge of creating new lives for themselves in America. It may be easier now, thanks to a fast-growing entrepreneurial culture in India. Still, there will likely be bumps along the way.


Most discussions about immigration focus on statistics and broad political and economic concepts. Yet it's worth remembering that there are human stories behind the statistics. Cassidy's column made me stop for a minute and do that.

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