Brain Drain & Brain Circulation
“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 and 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 reside in India. Both visible and invisible brain drain bring about a great national loss, which can’t be worked out in terms of money.
The developing countries are the most affected ones in this loss of their skilled and talented persons. The main cause behind this is that in developing countries there are less beneficial prospects in salaries and other facilities. It is possible that the amount of salary may not in every case matter so much to these intellectuals as proper opportunities for enhancing their facilities or improving their talent to give them the feeling of highest fulfillment. Thus, a scientist or a specialist in medicine or any other branch of knowledge may even reconcile to a lower pay and other hardships if there is a better recognition of his capability, a greater appreciation for his work, and especially better chances of research and improvement in his field of specialization. Thus, a better-equipped laboratory or a library can assist a large percentage of these national ‘brain’ to refrain from leaving their motherland in spite of higher salaries in foreign countries.
Indian policy makers 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 exhibit the possibility of economic leap frogging 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 home land to pursue promising opportunities. As the engineers and the other professional 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 policy makers 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 its 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 policy makers can accelerate the process of industrial upgrading by exhibiting incentives for engineers to return to India both as policy advisors and as investors, entrepreneurs, and managers.
It should be looked upon well that this can only be a first step for India. The spread of external linkages is requisite to competitiveness in a global economy. However this must be accompanied by concerted endeavor to unfold the domestic market to insure that the benefits of the new industries contribute to a wider ‘process of economic development.
The question at this point is as to what effect the brain-drain has on the national economy and what measures, if any, should be adopted by the affected country to stem the flow of this ‘drain’. In answer we may say that the effect of the brain-drain will be regarded a great loss if these lost persons could have been utilized to enhance national economy and development. If, on the other hand, their talents cannot be put to proper use in the home country, it would be better for the country to let these high caliber men to go out and search and make their own destiny. In such a case, the so-called ‘brain-drain’ really becomes ‘brain over flow’. Simply because they belong to this state, it does not seem to be right that their capacities should be wasted thus pushing these high-strung people to frustration. If the nation to which these talented men belong cannot make use of their genius in the best possible manner, there is no harm in letting the outer world derive benefit from their talents and capabilities.
In a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, 40 percent 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 two immigrate 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 said, “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.”
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 Center.
“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 onetime facility.”
According to the secretary, Department of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Mr. Maharaj Krishen Kaw, the portal of this year is tangling ‘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 expounds, “we have also instructed universities to have a 15 percent quota a resented for foreign students with a priority to the people of Indian origins.”
“If the Indians go back with reasonable expectations they are not going to be disappointed”, says Susheel Chandra, “There is always a possibility that people may not like the new condition, but the decision to return should not be cast in stone, You’ve got to keep yours 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 words. Those on H-IB visas cannot afford a similar luxury, But, says Shalini Roy, a New Jersey based software programmer and an H-IB 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 percent have been laid off jobs in the United States. Twenty percent 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, but there has been very little job creation. The main cause for the people going back is that jobs are now available in India. The factors that make India look good will 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.”