Not Down in the Drain

Brain drain, in broad terms, refers to migration of skilled workers possessing technical skills and knowledge of higher order to other destinations in search of better job prospects and a higher standard of living. This trend is prevalent among the people belonging to the top strata of society who are well-educated, business oriented and wish to explore new opportunities in life. Their wish to add greater value and experience to their profile and expose themselves to diverse job markets urges them to migrate to other countries.

But can we just criticize the ongoing brain drain without giving a second thought to its positive impact on the host country’s economy? Though there are a million voices criticizing this trend, there are very few actually analyzing the issue to the core and giving it a complete 360 degree view. At the time of the dotcom boom in 1990s, India was not at par with the software skills and research opportunities that existed within the U.S. At that time, the dream of a job in the Silicon Valley, however, was enough to lure many of India’s bright, young minds into the business of coding, and that was enough to hatch an indigenous software industry at a place where not even the traces of it had existed before.

Further, another view holds this trend as a propagator of a country’s knowledge and skills along with the accompanied cultural exchange. The person who is immigrating carries along with him the name of the country he originates from and brings respect and fame to the same with his specific qualities and flourishing professional career. Well, at this juncture, I would like to ask if we people feel ashamed or disappointed on hearing the name of LN Mittal, the steel giant heading ArcelorMittal, or Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Vodafone or Sabeer Bhatia, the co-founder of Hotmail. Along with it, he or she shares his acquired knowledge with the people of his country which helps in globalizing the host’s work environment.

Many people fail to paint a wholesome view of this issue of brain drain as the effects of it are not that transparent. Though it leeches away many talented professionals, it also creates incentives for others (who might not have seen education as a lucrative option before) to get educated, and can therefore create a more educated population than would have existed without brain drain. Some people argue that this is why India has benefited and grown despite the process of brain drain while other countries have been damaged by it.

Further, the trend of reverse brain drain has also surfaced in the news recently. The radical growth in the real estate sector in India with many upcoming cities enjoying the luxury of well-constructed residential complexes with inbound recreation amenities such as a gymnasium, a spa centre, a swimming pool etc have ensured a comfortable lifestyle in tandem with other developed nations. Many multinational companies have penetrated the Indian job market keeping in mind the abundance of talented individuals and a flourishing economy. The seven-figure salary provided to the worthy employees by the top notch firms has emerged as another lucrative offer that binds the individuals to their home country.

In the current scenario, it is a fact that if your hometown/home country is not in a position to create more jobs in your field or become as modern and sophisticated as you would like it to be, the people will look out for greener pastures overseas and will demonstrate their freedom of choice in deciding where they live and earn.

Ishant Arora


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