I have yet to figure out whether all Indians living abroad are NRIs or only some of them are. There are several related questions:
Whether he has to be a rich Indian like Swraj Paul or whether even a poor Indian working in a restaurant in New York can be an NRI? And does an Indian have to have a business interest in India and abroad or can he simply send some money home to his family, as most Indians do, and be an NRI? And do all those Indians, thousands upon thousands, working in the Gulf, qualify as NRIs?
Also, how long does an Indian have to be abroad to become an NRI?My brother, for instance, sailed to London in 1952, and so far he has visited India only once, somewhere in the 1970s, which makes it one brief visit in 42 years. Does that make him an Indian settled abroad, or an NRI, or an Englishman?
I, for one, think of him as an Indian. After all, he was born here, he studied here, he has a house here (in the sense that my house is his). But does he think of himself as an Indian? A couple of years back, I was in the US and the Indian cricket team was playing in England. American papers, of course, carry no cricket news, for them sports begins and ends with baseball and basketball, not even too much of tennis or golf or athletics, sports at which they excel. About the time the first Test was being played, my brother had rung up from England. So, one of the first things I asked him was what was happening in cricket. "Oh, we are winning," he said. It was much later that I found out that when he said we, he was referring to England.
My other brother has lived in many places, though more out of circumstances than choice. Right now he is living somewhere in the middle of France, semi retired, leading a life of ease and comfort, though not of luxury. But his heart is in India, and he follows events in India very closely through the international edition of India Today, a magazine that, like all other Indian publications, does not reach the subscriber half the time. He has visited India a few times, though not for several years now. He cannot afford the fare. My brother in England can afford the fare several times over, but he is not interested in coming here. He points out, perhaps rightly, that all the people he knew in India are dead or gone. I am the only person left, and he can always meet me when I go to England.
Some of my relations are in Canada. They went there when they were young and wanting to work and earn a decent living. Now they have retired, not working but they continue to live in Canada. I wonder if that makes them NRIs.As for myself, I am not only an Indian but also I reside in India - nowhere else. And that is the way I like it to be.