Monday, August 28, 2006


What exactly is 'brain gain'? People who come back to India to act in Bollywood, who come back tempted by multiplexes and malls? The BBC has penned an article on Indians coming back to their country, which disappointed me. The kind of people who they have interviewed seem to be almost exclusively people who are rich and who want to come back to India only because they want to remain among India's rich and elite. Of course there's nothing wrong in wanting to be rich or stay rich, but is the sampling of the views of such erstwhile citizens a clear indication of 'brain gain'? What about those middle class people in different professions like medicine, science, or humanities, or journalism? Do they want to come back? I don't see the BBC interviewing someone who wants to come back because they think they will actually get better opportunities here, or lead a more hassle free life here. After all, many of the problems facing the majority of Indians don't matter for those in the upper echelons of affluence. What's the point of interviewing only such people and concluding that we are now facing a significant 'brain gain'? Also, considering the present situation, there is no guarantee that such a brain gain, even if it exists, will not again trickle down and stop.

Sometimes, I can imagine a twenty second century history book. We get to the chapter on Asia, and here's what we find:
"For a moment, India seemed to be on the verge of being the next superpower. With a bustling economy and tremendous professional manpower, it seemed to be on the threshhold of taking over the world. But soon, it became clear that unless the roots are sturdy and hold strong, the tree can only aspire to reach out to greatness. As the world watched, the quagmire of political corruption, caste conflict, and religious differences, all of which riddled Indian society at every level like holes in a mold infested carpet, pulled down this Phoenix. Obscure definitions of national interests drove the suppression of individual rights. Interests ignited by historical wrongs gained supremacy, no matter how many future wrongs they would engender. Many again started migrating in hordes to the west. As the Indian phoenix strove and almost seemed to rise from the ashes, a new fire kindled by base politics, complacency, and selfish interests dragged him back into the ashes. The dream that almost seemed to be transformed into reality, finally disintegrated over its own horizon with a whimper"


Blogger sri said...

I went out of India for my PhD and came back as life is better in India. People are friendlier, helpful and not overtly money-minded or selfish. Everyone I know in my place of work have returned to India and are happy about their decision.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Mukundan said...

I think you are right. Till date, lack of respect for hard work(rather than caste) will finally pull us down. If this goes on, I'm sure we are not becoming superpowers. But one still likes to dream on

6:42 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Sri: Good for you. What kind of job do you have? Industry ot academe? In industry, things definitely would be better. I agree that people are not money-minded. But expecting great facilities for doing great research is not being money-minded, nor is being not satisfied with 25,000 rupees p.a. Also, with 50% reservation, how will we expect world class research and development? Also, there is no way that we can see this problem going away, because it is in the interests of many people for it to continue, and of course in the interest of the politicians who exploit these people for votes (but the point is that those people don't care because exploitation in this case is good for them from their point of view). The question is, are we going to be top-notch with all the present problems continuing?

Mukundan: Of course, and nothing wrong with dreaming. But we need to keep on pinching ourselves and taking a realistic view of the situation.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Sujai said...

Dear all:
I understand that present article by BBC on brain gain may not have addressed or included some of the middle-class ordinary indians (who are not rich). Have a look at this that appeared in 2003/2004 titled "Return of tech gurus".

Since I came back to India from US (having lived for about 9 years there), they interviewed me as well. I was working at Sasken back then.

In the last three years, eight of my friends have returned to India. All of them come from ordinary families and have taken up middle-management or senior technical positions in India. I met many others in my interactions- they have all come back for good. I believe there is definitely a big trend in coming back to India.
Thank you,

11:40 PM  

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