Not so bound: Indo-Caribbean transnationalism
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I SHARE with you some dynamics of Indo-Caribbean transnationalism, an event that has gone practically unnoticed in academics. There is no solid study on the transnational migration of Indo-Caribbean people. Transnational migration is defined here as individuals involved in a regular migration between two or more places.

They do not live permanently in one place but may live six months of the year in one place and six months of the year in another place.
We do know that Indians continue to migrate from the Caribbean to Europe and North America and within the Caribbean and have engaged in return and transnational migration on a regular basis. We do not know the numbers that are involved in these migrations. A rough estimate would suggest that no more than five per cent, that is, no less than 50,000 of the one million Indo-Caribbeans living in Europe and North America and Caribbean have been active in transnationalism.

To clarify, return migration does not mean short visits and vacations, but rather the movement back to the former homeland to live at least for three to five years or permanently.
Why would Indo-Caribbean people want to return to the Caribbean? Some Indo-Caribbean people return home because they have achieved some level of economic, educational, and material success that would give them a satisfactory lifestyle in their native homeland. They have acquired enough finances to buy a parcel of land on which to build a house or start a business or not work at all.

Others return because they are disappointed with their overseas experience. They have had a hard time trying to integrate with the host society and see no real reason to remain. Still, some return home because of visa controls that do not allow them to stay beyond the authorised period of time.

These are mainly students and business people. Some individuals return simply because of the aging process, as they would like to retire in their homeland, particularly if they have property, investment, or family there. Older siblings are sometimes obligated to return home to take care of aging parents.

The love of home, strong nationalistic feelings, as well as the avoidance of long and harsh winters may also stimulate return migration. Even conflicts within families abroad may lead to return migration. Indo-Caribbean people also re-migrate because of conditions in their homeland. If the political, social, economic, and medical conditions improve, then there is likelihood of them returning home.

Return and transnational migration have had a profound impact on Indo-Caribbean communities in Guyana, Trinidad, and Suriname. The positive aspect is that returning Indo-Caribbean people introduce new skills, ideas, and techniques, as well as capital, which are much needed for growth and development.

Returning Indo-Caribbean people have a positive demonstration effect, which the local population tries to emulate: for example, in their office demeanor and computer skills. These returnees are important sources of investment as their remittances have led to unprecedented levels of infrastructural development. These returnees are inadvertent innovators or facilitators of change.

Another positive side of transnationalism is the formation of an Indo-Caribbean diaspora, the scattering of discrete and distinct subcultural communities. These micro communities have contributed significantly to Guyana, Trinidad, and Suriname by way of remittances, which are not recorded by ethnicity.

The negative aspect of return and transnational migration is that their expectations are not always met. Returnees are not well paid and are placed in jobs that do not make use of their overseas training. They are also not placed in important leadership positions to make significant changes. The returnees are also maladjusted to the traditional ways of thinking because of the long time spent away from their homeland. This is particularly true of deportees.

The sending countries like Guyana, Trinidad, and Suriname continue to experience a brain drain, that is, the loss of skilled and educated personnel such as doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and technicians.
Outward migration from these countries has reduced human capital, which in turn stymied growth and development. The social cost has also been incalculable. Indo-Caribbean migrants generally leave their families behind, including children, who often lose their main source of support.

The responsibility is then shifted onto relatives who generally have limited resources themselves to cope. The years of separation translate into children who grow up ignorant of the contours of their parents’ faces.
The transnational movement of Indo-Caribbean people and Guyanese will continue, producing positive and negative dynamics. However, Guyana is poised to be the most attractive place to migrate to because of growth and development, meaning Guyana will be an importer rather than exporter of people (

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