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America’s ‘National Suicide’

Author: Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow
April 10, 2011


Lakshminarayana Ganti reached out to me in the spring of 2009, long after he had exhausted every other option. Sixteen months earlier he had been a young man on the rise, living in a waterfront Boston apartment, driving a new BMW, and working long hours for a startup bond-trading firm. By the time he contacted me, he was sleeping in the spare bedroom of his sister's house in a New Delhi suburb, trying to fill his time with cricket and odd consulting jobs.

He had found my name through a Facebook group set up by young Indian and Chinese scientists and engineers who had built their lives in America only to find themselves involuntarily exiled in their home countries. I had joined the Facebook group in connection with research into visa delays in the aftermath of 9/11.

Hi Ted, he wrote. My case has been pending since Dec 18 '07...Nope thats not a typing error...For a few months I was ok with the delay, and in my mind justified it as—greater good—national security/safety procedures...but 15+ months of background checks...on someone who has a clean record? Impossible to rationalise...Regards, Ganti.

Ganti, 33, is from a successful family near Kolkata, part of the rapidly growing, educated elite modernizing India's economy. The youngest of three children, he spent a year studying electrical engineering at the Indian Institutes of Technology. But rather than stay in India, at the university where his father taught for more than three decades, he went to the U.S., winning a scholarship to Purdue University in Indiana in 1996.

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