“The brain drain has been a curse for developing countries like India. Throughout the post World War II era, the best and brightest routinely left for search of better economic opportunities and higher standards of living in the West Entire graduating classes from the elite Indian Institutes of Technology emigrated during the 1970s and 1980s”.
`Brain Drain‘ means, migration of highly trained manpower from one country to another. Shri P.N. Haksar once remarked, “A society, which cannot place the highest value on knowledge and its acquisition, inevitably alienates itself from creating transmitting and applying knowledge.” The alienation leads partly to the visible brain drain, that in migration and invisible brain drain means loss of morale and creativity among those who still stay in India. Both visible and invisible brain drain produces a great national loss, which can’t be calculated in terms of money.
A UN report reveals that a brain drain of highly-skilled professionals to well-paid jobs in the first world costs Asia billions of dollars each year but the traffic is not all one way, reveals that The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2001 estimates India loses $2 billion a year in resources because of the emigration of computer professionals to the United States alone.
These emigrants often achieve impressive professional and economic successes abroad. For example, in 1998 Indian engineers were running more than 775 technology companies in California’s Silicon Valley that accounted for $3.6 bin sales and 16,600 jobs. But the connections between these Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and their home country rarely extended beyond holiday visits.
Indian policymakers now have an opportunity to transform the brain drain from a curse into an asset. Changes in the structure of competition in Information Technology (IT) industries have not only allowed the growth of software development in India but also create the possibility of economic leapfrogging of a sort that was not possible in an earlier era. In many parts of the world, the “brain drain” is giving way to a process of “brain circulation” as talented immigrants who have studied and worked abroad increasingly return to their homeland to pursue promising opportunities. As the engineers and other professionals return home—either temporarily or permanently—transfer not only technology and capital but also managerial and institutional know-how to formerly peripheral regions. They also link-local producers more directly to the market opportunities and networks of more advanced economies.
The policymakers in India must learn from the experience of Taiwan, where brain circulation was critical to its shift from a peripheral source of cheap labour to a global leader in IT production. The challenge for India’s Information Technology (IT) sector is to upgrade the software industry, an industry that currently produces primarily low-value-added services for export markets. As in Taiwan, Indian policymakers can accelerate the process of industrial upgrading by creating incentives for engineers to return to India both as policy advisors and as investors, entrepreneurs, and managers. It should be understood well that this can only be the first step for India. The expansion of external linkages is essential to competitiveness in a global economy. However, this must be accompanied by concerted efforts to develop the domestic market to ensure that the benefits of the new industries contribute to a wider process of economic development.
“India must tackle five key challenges, including brain drain and lack of institutional reforms in research laboratories, to emerge as a global research and development hub”. The Director-General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Mr R. A. Mashelkar said on 26th April 2004.
“I believe India will become a global R&D hub. This can be achieved not just in terms of cost but has to be cost-cum competence. India is not going to remain a poor country, and the sustainability has to be the intellectual prowess”, he said inaugurating an exhibition-cum-seminar ‘Elitex 2004’ with the theme `Technology Vision.: India in 2010″.
He said India would have to ‘desperately’ address five key issues of brain drain, find new innovative forms of public-private partnerships, usher institutional reforms, create alternative paths and focus on creating technologies which would make a difference to the lives of millions.
“The first and the foremost issue is that of brain drain“, he said adding it needed to be reversed. Citing Nasscom estimates that 25,000 professionals had returned to India in the last three years with 90 per cent of them being software professionals. Mr Mashelkar said, “This trend has just begun. India has to become a land of opportunities. We cannot just be a land of ideas without being a land of opportunities“, he said.
Secondly, India must vigorously pursue public-private partnerships, he said giving an example of 39 Government-owned software technology parks housing 3,500 companies from where 80 per cent of IT exports were taking place.
With good employers, attractive working conditions, improved telecommunications, attractive salaries and the entrepreneurial climate in India today, young professionals and technocrats are turning back home and strengthening business ties in the process.
Chetan Raghavan is ecstatic. He’s landed an “awesome” job. An enviable pay package, a company car and a posh three-bedroom apartment are just some of the perks. But for what this California resident is more excited about is the prospect of soon being surrounded by family and friends. He’s moving to Bangalore. “We always knew, we were going to go back one day,” says Raghavan, his wife, Sarita, nodding her head in agreement. The Raghavan’s are trading their American dream for a one-way ticket to India. And they are not the only ones.
In a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, 40 per cent of the foreign-born respondents said they would consider returning to their native countries. Over the years, the so-called brain drain from India has been transformed into a more complex two-way process of “brain circulation” linking California’s fabled Silicon Valley to urban centres in India, says Anna Lee Saxenian, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Saxenian found nearly three-fourths of the predominantly Indian and Chinese immigrants interviewed said they knew between one and 10 immigrant professionals who had returned home.
“This ‘brain circulation’ is likely to expand in the near future with profound consequences for better economic development in other countries,” she says, In the United States, there are economic opportunities but one has to face policy challenges. Trade, immigration, and intellectual property-rights policies all assume more limited one-way flows of skills and technology, largely within multinational corporations. There’s a new reality today.”
Sushil Bhikhchandani, Agoura, California-based head of operations at Naukri.com, an employment portal offering jobs in India, says the migration of Indian expatriates to India is a “recent phenomenon.” The people who are returning,” he says, “are predominantly those who were either laid off from their jobs in the U.S. or had planned to go back in a few years and decided to speed up their plans.
Three factors have made India attractive, Bhikhchandani says. “Availability of good employees in India-from computer scientists, engineers to call centre personnel-at a fraction of the salary of comparable U.S. employees; improved telecommunication which makes it easier for U.S. companies to do some of the work offshore; and tremendous competitive pressure to cut costs.”
Karthik Sundaram, the managing editor of California-based Silicon India, organized a series of back-to-India job fairs last year. “Many Indians living in America dream of returning to India but they are nervous and don’t know how to go about making that transition,” Sundaram says.
Through the fairs, he provided a venue for people to explore opportunities as well as air apprehensions. The fair, planned as a two-city event, rapidly expanded to more locations across the U. S.The interest to return home is matched by U.S. firms’ keenness to move jobs overseas. Multinationals including big names such as Microsoft, Intel and Oracle Corporation are actively scouting for English Essays 19 talent to manage their offices in India. “They no longer look at their operations in India as a back office,” says Sundaram. Rafiq Dossani, director of the South Asia Initiative at Stanford University, notes the acceleration of outsourcing or business process offshoring is intertwined with an increasing willingness by firms to outsource what formerly were considered core activities. “It is significant that a substantial number of service activities might move offshore because it was once thought that service jobs were the future growth area for developed country economies,” he writes in a working paper. While they have adapted to America’s business environment, Indian entrepreneurs in the U.S. have maintained close ties with India. These ties are contributing to the growth of global business networks and stimulating economic change in cities like Bangalore, according to Saxenian.
Bangalore tops the list of preferred destinations for people who are thinking of returning. Hyderabad and Pune are the next. The state-of-the-art Intel campus in Bangalore is one of the reasons why the city is a top attraction. Intel offers handsome salaries and employee benefits and stock options on par with those offered at its offices in the United States.
Arjun Batra’s job is to ensure that the right people make the move to India. Business development and project incubation manager at Intel India Development Center in Santa Clara, California, Batra says: “I respect my heritage and am motivated to help people for whom the opportunities to return to India are right.”
A decision to relocate is a big challenge. “Everyone has to consider their personal circumstances… working for the families have grown-up children, may not be well suited to move as compared to those having younger children. For some people it’s just not the right time to move”, he says. “Today, you are not sacrificing your career if you decide to move to India,” says Amit Zavery, senior director at Oracle Corporation, “There isn’t an urgency to just rush back to any job. People want to do good work, close to their families…and they want to continue moving ahead in their profession. Most people returning to India have a preference for jobs with U.S. companies over outsourced call-centre duties.”
But, says Bhikhchandani, outsourcing by U.S. companies is “the biggest factor” that contributes to a person’s decision to return to India. “At the same time, there is a very entrepreneurial climate in certain parts of India, nurtured mostly by Indian businessmen.” For many young families weighing a return to India, being close to parents and grandparents is a priority. For American firms, moving their operations to India means, among other things, cut in costs that are lower in India says, Batra.
Causes for Brain Drain
Are we able to provide them with suitable jobs according to their abilities? What propels them towards the other countries? Dr C.V. Raman was compelled to join IA & AS for a few years because he couldn’t get a good scientist job.
A plethora of causes ranging from attraction towards the foreign country to monetary benefits are cited for brain drain. Monetary gains and good jobs of their satisfaction are the main reasons for the brain drain. The highly educated find no place or desired respect in Indian panorama, they go out of the country, earn good money and respectful recognition not only in a foreign country but in our country as well after returning. Take the case of Kalpana Chawla who died in space. What she could achieve in the USA, was impossible to achieve in India, whatever calibre she might have possessed? Who so even has gone to the west for studies and remained there even for five or six years, finds almost impossible to settle in Indian conditions. Our system does not allow lateral entry, every post is tailor-made, no triangle can fit as a square, and no hexagon as a triangle. The rigidity in the system does not allow people to return to India from abroad. The salary structure is also rigid and has no place for extra increments to the talented.
In addition to the lower salary package, the working conditions in India, are also not homogenous and healthy for progress. Bureaucratic pressures and Red-tapism frustrates technocrats of high calibre. A technocrat in India, while going through a magazine finds in utter, surprise that Dr Reddy has already got patented some medicine in Canada, while he applied six months back in India, but alas! the lengthy and cumbersome procedure in India, that took a long time.
We also have a problem like reservation, surplus manpower, non-availability of financial assistance, lack of part-time jobs to earn money sufficient to cover up the educational expenses. Students going abroad are getting scholarships, can earn by doing part-time jobs there and also can get jobs during their studies. The “Pull and Push” theory says, that certain factors such as greater Educational Facilities, better Working Conditions, more Monetary Gains, more Recognition pull students towards the developed countries. In this world, whichever country has mere ‘Pull‘ force, can easily get highly trained professionals and technocrats from a country having more `Push‘ factor like India.
Changed Scenario: For years now products of the Indian educational system — students and professionals have been going abroad in search of distant horizons. It’s now India’s turn to reverse the ‘brain drain’ the Ministry of Human Resource Development has taken the strategic initiative to “internationalise Indian education at length.” As part of the overall drive the Ministry, with the assistance of Educational Consultants India Limited (Ed.CIL), today launched an educational portal www.educationindia4u.com at India International Centre.
“What we are looking for, is to provide comprehensive information to..the students’ fingertips who are living abroad,” said Dr.Yajulu Medury, Chairman of Ed.CIL, adding: “We want to act as long-term career guides to foreign students, not just a one-time facility.”
At present around 161 educational institutions are a part of this portal including Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), Regional Engineering Colleges, Madras University, Pune University etc.
The website takes a student on a round-India educational trip. The website commences with why the student should choose India as an academic destination. Listing the “excellent educational facilities in India”, the portal particularly highlights the cost-effective nature of the Indian education, the international acceptance and recognition that it enjoys and the fact that “India is a democratic country and provides a safe and stable political environment.”
The Charged Affairs, Embassy of Rwanda, Mr.Gaspard Nyilinkindi, pointed-out that “The standard of Indian education is very high especially in Information Technology and is very cheap, at around 4000 dollars a year.” On the other hand, Syrian Ambassador to India, Dr.Mohsen Al-Khayer, said “Being a rich nation we can afford to send our students to Western countries. However, we prefer India because of its high academic standard and also we share a common culture.”
According to the Secretary, Department of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Mr Maharaj Krishen Kaw, the portal this year is targeting students of countries of Africa as well as Mauritius, Gulf region, Malaysia and Indonesia. The step taken is in the “larger diplomatic interest for closer relations with these countries.” He explains, “We have also instructed universities to have a 15 per cent quota resented for foreign students with a priority to the people of Indian origins.”
But there are a few academicians who express a note of warning. “We shouldn’t be too euphoric at the creation of the site thinking it would bring a cascade of foreign students to India. There is a need for aggressive advertising of this portal abroad” cautioned Mr Syed Shahid Mandi, Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia.
“If the Indians go back with reasonable expectations they are not going to be disappointed,” says Susheel Chandra, “There is 7.1ways a possibility that people may not like the new situation, but the decision to return should not be cast in stone, you’ve got g_ot to keep your options open.”
Many of those contemplating a return are green card holders or U.S. citizens. They have the option of keeping a foot in both worlds. Those on H-1B visas cannot afford a similar luxury. But, says Shalini Roy, a New Jersey-based software programmer and an H-18 visa holder, “I want to return because I had never planned on staying out for the rest of my life. This isn’t home.”
“Everyone doesn’t share Roy’s point of view. Many people are returning to India out of desperation,” says Chandra, “If they are offered a job in the U.S. they will not be back.” Of the resumes, 50 per cent have been laid of jobs in the United States. Twenty per cent were serious about returning to India. Given the present state of the U.S. economy, is India just the lesser of two evils?
Although the U.S. economy is improving, there has been very little job creation. The main reason for the people going back is that good jobs are now available in India. The factors that make India look goodwill remain even if the U.S. economy improves. “In the end, people will go where suitable jobs are…There are exciting new opportunities opening up in India and so the trend is in reverse gear.“