‘Brain drain’ is a phenomenon where a substantial number of relatively well educated persons emigrate. It can also be termed as Human Capital Flight. Brain drain occurs most commonly when individuals leave less developed countries with fewer opportunities for career advancement, research, and academic employment and migrate to more developed countries with more opportunities. However, it also occurs in the movement of individuals from one more developed country to another more developed country. There is an economic loss in the possible capital that the professionals may have been able to bring in, a loss in advancement and development when all of the educated individuals use their knowledge to benefit a country other than their home country, and a loss of education when educated individuals leave without assisting in the education of the next generation.
In the present world, the problem that poor countries face is getting much worse than we thought when it comes to the brain drain. Historically the term ‘brain drain’ came into existence when highly trained manpower in Britain started migrating to the United States of America in the mid-sixties. Subsequently, it became more universal with the emigration of skilled workforce from many poor countries to the rich countries. Therefore, ‘drain brain’ is a boon for the developed countries, but a bane for the developing countries.
Just as there are two sides to a coin there are two sides to every story. There is a possibility for brain gain for the country experiencing “brain drain” (the country that loses the skilled individual). This is only the case if professionals decide to return to their home country after a period of working abroad. When this happens, the country regains the worker as well as gains a new abundance of experience and knowledge received from the time spent abroad. However, this is very uncommon, particularly for Less Developed Countries (LDCs) that would see the most gain with the return of their professionals. There is also a possible gain in the expansion of international networking that can come as a result of brain drain. In this respect, this involves networking between nationals of a country who are abroad with their colleagues who remain in that home country. An example of this is Swiss-List.com, which was established to encourage networking between Swiss scientists abroad and those in Switzerland. Other factors that can cause brain drain include a war or conflict, health risks, political instability and religious persecution. Theoretical physicist Prof. Albert Einstein, who immigrated to the United States to escape Nazi persecution, is an example of human capital flight as a result of political change as well as religious persecution.
Apart from resident Indians, many of our fellow countrymen residing in foreign shores have also left an indelible mark in every sphere of life including space research, intellectual thought leadership, academic prowess, visionary entrepreneurship, medicine, economics, leading global corporates, etc. On one hand, we feel proud about their success stories but sometimes we really wonder why they couldn’t achieve the same feat in their native land and what made them leave home to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
In a globalised economy, resources need to move freely across man-made borders to ensure optimal utilisation, and thus global employability has its own share of benefits (including foreign remittances), however the problem occurs in case of selective picking i.e. if most of the best and brightest start packing their bags for foreign countries after being educated in the coveted educational institutes which are highly subsidised with public funds. The solution to these can’t be through any restrictive legislation but by an honest assessment of the problems and then trying to arrive at a solution in the long run which will not merely aim at reverse migration by drumming up nationalistic sentiments but by creating better opportunities at home and systematically working towards talent retention.
The government needs to invest heavily in public infrastructure. Most people who emigrate to foreign shores do not do so to only earn more money. In many cases they leave in search of cleaner cities, robust public infra and better quality of life that includes lesser pollution levels, quality education, better public health care, and a safer environment to raise their kids. The government’s recent initiative to promote cleanliness is indeed a welcome initiative and if it is effectively implemented on the ground it will go a very long way to improve the quality of life. This is just one example how India suffers due to brain drain. The rich in India fly abroad for heart operations and are pleasantly surprised to find an Indian doctor preparing to operate on them. While India still lacks remarkable academicians in their universities, USA has hordes of Indian academicians in their universities.
In the past few decades, brain drain has become one of the major issues in India considering the migration of the intelligentsia to countries in Europe, America, and Australia in search of better prospects. This issue is studied with respect to the push and pull factors. The push factors include lack of opportunities in their motherland, poverty, corruption, and lack of incentives. In order to solve the issue of brain drain, various steps have to be taken by all forms of organisations—governmental, non-governmental, profit-based, public-private partnerships, etc. There are some basic initiatives that can tackle brain-drain. Rural development forms the soul of proper and effective development in India. The ‘Young India’ actually wants to contribute to the progress of the nation but issues crop up when there is a dearth of opportunities. There can be various employment opportunities developed in the sectors of education, women empowerment, agriculture, handicrafts, etc. where highly skilled youth can contribute to development and also earn a decent income through their contribution. The companies recruiting employees should take utmost care to resolve any form of underemployment in their organisation. A person should be selected for a job based on his interest, calibre and academic merit. The designation and post assigned to a person plays a very important role in the performance and efficiency of work. More Indian companies in pharmaceuticals, electronics, ICT, etc. should employ recent graduates with lucrative packages, allowances, and decent working conditions. This would encourage youngsters to work in India and earn the benefit of their merit.
It is a known fact that most organisations in India do not work on strong principles and work culture. This leads to politics within an organisation, communication gaps, absence of grievance redressal, etc. leading to stress and anxiety among the employees. Many employees migrate to countries abroad with the expectation of decent work atmosphere instead of compromising and adjusting to an unprofessional work culture based on currying favours and nepotism. A fair and equitable compensation policy for employees is one of the determining factors of job satisfaction. The payment needs to be structured and proper monetary incentives should be paid whenever necessary. Uncompetitive salaries are one of the most important economic factors that lead to brain drain as the employee finds the payment attractive in other countries. There are a lot of reviews by economists who strongly believe that the taxation policy in India leaves much lesser scope for savings. Also, the allied issues remain in the dissatisfaction of taxes not being utilised to solve various issues in the country.
Brain drain definitely needs reversal for the development of a country and its people. We need to motivate and inspire our youth to take an ideological pledge to contribute their bit towards building our great nation.