The Great Indian “Brain Drain”

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By Education Today

Posted on April 9, 2022


5 min read

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The Great Indian “Brain Drain”

The idea of people moving to a different country is seen as a badge of honor, an achievement that makes you worthy of reputation in every eye.  Call it a colonial hangover or the representation of the NRIs in Indian cinema, the idea of living abroad is glamorous. But what we, as a society, fail to address are the reasons why people choose to move out from their motherland, leaving behind their history and roots. What are the factors that lure these people to leave in search of better prospects?

It was when Parag Agarwal and Leena Nair of Indian origin took over the global companies Twitter and Chanel respectively, the discussion of Indians moving abroad came to the forefront, yet another time. They are the latest in the growing list of India-born tech CEOs, the likes of which include Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai and IBM’s Arvind Krishna. Even though the news of them leading these multi billionaire companies attracted praise, the internet debated these discussions about the future of the country if the best brains left for foreign countries.

Amidst the pandemic, we are witnessing a rising trend of India’s student population moving abroad for education and employment. Studies show that the revenue our country losses runs into billions a year as a result of this. More than six lakh Indians have given up citizenship since 2016. Twenty-three thousand millionaires have left India since 2014. In fact, India ranks first when it comes to the migration of the rich and educated. 

Even before the 1970s, the word “brain drain” took its place in the vernacular. Brain drain is an expression that refers to the flight of skilled labour from developing countries to the developed ones. For decades, the West has benefitted from the converse, brain gain.  The brightest of brains moved to places that would reward them better and are still employed overseas. Why does brain drain persist? Why are people renouncing citizenship? What happens after continuously draining the pool of talented resources in the country? Addressing these questions is the need of the hour. 

Health Care and Infrastructure

Post-pandemic period came up with a drastic shift in people’s mindset. The inefficiency shown by the government in handling the pandemic crisis has left its citizens feeling abandoned. According to the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), India is the world’s largest exporter of doctors. The study shows, in the US, there is one Indian doctor for every 1325 Americans while in India, there is one Indian doctor for approximately 2400 Indians. This is a highly disturbing statistic.

There was a turmoil all over the country when elections were conducted with no safety protocol, with an utter disregard of the surge in cases. The second wave shook the country waving disasters, lakhs of deaths were reported due to the shortage of oxygen in hospitals. The absence of transportation facilities during the 2020 lockdown mowed down thousands of migrant workers. The most stranded the citizens felt was when the government didn’t even acknowledge these numbers of deaths.

India being the “vaccine powerhouse” of the world, ran out of doses which led to another controversy when the second highest population of the world couldn’t afford to vaccinate its people. 

Better Rewards and Lifestyle

The bane of unemployment has led the students of India to leave the country for better opportunities. This situation reflects a crisis that our country seems to ignore. The US academia, management and IT sector pays six, three and two times more respectively, than its Indian counterparts. Capitalists, who could contribute to a rising Indian economy are fleeing the country because of the better value of money they are offering. 

While India is propagating a cycle of hate out of its religious and political dogmas, the taxpayers outside the country are offered a comparatively peaceful life. Other than that, quality of life and social security are also factors that attract youngsters. 

Quality Education

There is a growing sense of dissatisfaction among students of India that the current education system is incompetent in preparing them for the challenges of the increasingly globalized world. India has some outstanding institutions such as the IIT’s and IIM’s but none of them appears to be in the top global rankings. 

The best universities of the country offer admission to students placing a cut off from 97 to 98 percentage points, which the student population finds hard to get in. Even though the academic courses outside the country turn out to be expensive, students prefer them because of the various scholarships available and the stay back policies those countries offer. 

Clean Air

First world countries have a trend of building their production sites in developing countries for cheap labour. If given a deep thought, this would reflect another hidden agenda of avoiding pollution in the developed countries. This increase in contaminated air in the third world nations results in various health hazards that would destroy the country. This does not mean that the first world nations would not be affected, but the rising graph would be really slow. 

India once witnessed a reverse brain drain when the economic reforms of 1991 brought in several multinational corporations and foreign investments. Lots of citizens moved back to the country with a desire to build their businesses, start research for a rapidly growing economy. But the trend did not last longer. There should be focused initiatives on bringing the Indian diaspora back. Unless we look into this obstacle closely, the exodus of bright minds will always push the nation one step behind.