“No one thought the brain drain could also be converted into ‘brain gain’. We must reverse the ‘brain drain’ into ‘brain gain’.” Narendra Modi
In the light of globalisation and liberalisation, the past few decades have witnessed the migration of trained and highly specialised professionals and academicians from developing to the developed countries. This phenomenon is known as brain drain. The UNESCO’s 1969 report defines brain drain as the abnormal form of scientific exchange between countries, characterised by a one way flow in favour of the highly developed countries.
This movement of knowledge workers from one part of the world to the other take place in search of better standard of living, higher salaries, access to advanced technology and stable political conditions. A university degree from a premier college is the safest passport out of an unstable economy.
However, over the time, this trend seems to have been reversed. The concept of brain drain is replaced by brain circulation and brain gain. Although people are still moving to the developed countries, many of the talented individuals have started returning to their native places with their acquired skills, knowledge and capital in order to harness the potential opportunities. This phenomenon is known as brain gain.
India was once considered a victim of brain drain. The best brains in India which used to pass out from the premier institutes such as IITS and IIMs saw their future in Silicon Valley or Wall Street. The period of 1960s witnessed a mass movement of highly educated and professionally skilled immigrants from India to the developed countries. At that time Indian economy was still coming to terms with its independence from the clutches of British. The government was struggling to provide the basic amenities to its citizens and stabilise the economy. All these forced the knowledge workers to move out of the country in order to find better job opportunities and a secure future. This had a serious impact on India, affecting its university staffing level and availability of skilled industrial professionals.
It was unfortunate that India was unable to harness the potential of its skilled workers and provide them an environment for growth and development. In fact, the resources spent by the government on these individuals for their education and skill development seemed to be a waste of government’s money.
However, over the time this trend has reversed. There are a number of examples of entrepreneurs, scientists, professionals and academicians who wish to utilise their knowledge and acquired skills to harness the available opportunities in our country. Former Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi preferred to use the term brain bank instead of brain drain.
Censured for having first taken the benefit of subsidised Indian education and then participating in a massive Brain Drain from the country, they are now heralded as the creators of a ‘Brain Gain’ that will power India into a glorious technology-studded future. It is interesting to observe how our attitudes towards our expatriate brethren have transformed.
One of the famous examples of brain gain is the RBI Governor, Mr Raghuram Rajan. He is widely appreciated in the international community for his measures to stabilise the Indian economy. Another example of brain gain is of Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the founders of Indian e-commerce giant, Flipkart. Both of them are IIT graduates and worked with the global ecommerce giant Amazon in the initial days of their career. Later, they replicated the same model in India with Flipkart. In fact, Flipkart continues to give a tough competition to Amazon in the Indian e-commerce industry. Thus, the initial brain drain was compensated by an equivalent brain gain.
The Indian Government is promoting and supporting the budding entrepreneurs through its different programmes. The remarkable increase the foreign investments hint towards the trust of the international community in growing Indian economy. Undoubtedly, the returned skilled workers have played the role of a catalyst in this boom. Brain circulation can prove to be mutually beneficial for the involved countries as well as the individuals. The developed countries can gain more knowledge and the developing countries can reap benefits from the acquired skills of the workers.
There is no doubt that Indian Government is working on promoting the brain circulation by attractive programmes and schemes. It is trying to revive the cultural and economic ties of the expatriates with their homeland. Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi is making an extra effort to reach to the Indian diaspora on all his foreign visits. But India still has a long way to reach its goal. It needs to work aggressively in order to fulfill its commitments towards the implementation of these strategies. With India taking rapid strides towards economic development, the policy makers need to convert this opportunity to promote brain circulation.