India’s entrepreneurs believe the returning H-1B talent could come home and catalyze the next wave of innovation, and some are actively encouraging H-1B holders to return.

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The Indian startup sector’s shortcomings

Yet despite all the troubles in America, for many Indians, India still remains an inferior option. Indian-born workers come to the US to get a world-class education and an unparalleled opportunity to network, UCSD’s Khanna said. In contrast, India’s nascent startup is more fractured and often runs on jugaad, a Hindi term for makeshift innovations using scarce resources.

Looking for funding can become an exercise in pedigree-driven flattery, because bigwigs from abroad are hard to approach, and the local venture capital industry is still small. A talent crisis also plagues the industry. Although India churns out millions of engineers each year, they’re mostly subpar because the quality of education is subpar.

Moreover, Silicon Valley veterans hired at big-name startups like Flipkart (now owned by Walmart) and Zomato have experienced burnout because of long commutes in traffic and a lack of work-life balance.

Instead, many Indians would rather migrate to, say, Canada. Owing to its friendlier immigration policies, over 40% of Canada’s tech roles today are held by immigrants, and a host of startups in upcoming sectors like AI, the Internet of Things, and cryptocurrency are already well-established and hiring there.

Canada-based techies are paid less than their US counterparts—the average engineer fetched around $74,000 a year in Toronto versus $134,000 in San Francisco, according to a 2017 survey—but it’s still a much more attractive paycheck than one would get in India, where the best paid tech jobs are around the $35,000 mark.

There are still many kinks to iron out to lure H-1B holders back home—and make them stay.

“The industry has to become attractive by itself,” Akash Gehani, co-founder and chief operating officer of Instamojo, told online business publication YourStory. “And that means having a better ecosystem, products, and a big market here.”

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