Brain Drain from India – UPSC GS3

Context: The recent appointment of Parag Agrawal, as the CEO of US-based company ‘Twitter’ started renewed debate on brain drain from India.
  • As per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) more than six lakh Indians renounced citizenship in the past five years.
  • In the past two decades, there has been a steady and continuous upward drift in the outflow of Indians, barring a brief jolt around the 2008 financial crisis and in 2020-21 due to Covid-19 related travel bans.
  • Tech companies headed by Indians are Google, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Palo Alto Networks, Twitter among others. This reflects the talent pool of India which is working abroad.
  • The principal destinations for Indian emigrant include the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) affiliated countries, the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Italy have been some of .
  • According to a Global Wealth Migration Review report, in 2019, India came second only to China when it came to high net worth individuals (HNIs) leaving the country. As many as 7,000 HNIs left India in 2019. The next year (2020) alone, nearly 5,000 millionaires or 2% of the total number of high net-worth individuals in India left the country.
  • According to a Morgan Stanley report, “35,000 Indian Entrepreneurs of High Net Worth LEFT India between 2014-2020, as NRI/Immigrants. India ranked No 1 in EXODUS IN THE WORLD.”
  • Well-off parents too are sending their children abroad, especially to the USA, Canada and the European Countries.  For example, according to recent data collected from high-profile private schools in New Delhi, post-2015 around 70% of their students have moved out of India.
  • As per OECD data, around 69,000 Indian-trained doctors and 56,000 Indian-trained nurses worked in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia in 2017.
What are the reasons for brain drain from India?
  • Push factors for brain drain
    • Lack of Higher education opportunities: It is one of the major reasons for permanent immigration. Considering the skyrocketing cut-offs for top Indian universities, many students explore higher education abroad. They have an advantage over students from other countries in terms of skills and knowledge.
    • Both poverty and prosperity can lead to emigration. For example, the new international airport planned in Uttar Pradesh will lead to a near-demographic certainty – quicker mass emigration from that region – just as international airports in Kochi, Kannur, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram connected Kerala closer to the Gulf.
    • Low spending in research: India’s Gross domestic expenditure on research has stayed at 0.7% of the GDP for years. India has one of the lowest GERD/GDP ratios among the BRICS nations. So, the talented youth migrate to other countries to prove their talent and continue their research.
    • Low Wages: Developed countries offer better wages compared to India. For example, nurses in India receive low wages in private sector outfits. Also, they have only fewer opportunities in the public sector (Low employment due to lower number of hospitals in the public sector). So, they generally migrate to developed countries that offer better wages.
    • Non-recognition of talents: Despite the citizen’s academic or potential achievement, they don’t get the same name and fame as film actors and cricketers in India. So, the talented individuals move to better places that recognise and respect their talents.
  • Pull Factors for brain drain
    • Better standard of living and life quality: Many developed and GCC countries offer a higher salary, tax benefits, higher standard of living, etc. These act as a pull factor for Indian health care professionals.
    • Policies of developed countries: Developed countries adopted migrant-friendly policies to retain the talented youngsters from India. For instance, France has offered citizenship to frontline immigrant healthcare workers during the pandemic.
    • Apart from that, the ageing demography of developed nations is also a reason.
All this made India a net exporter of Brain.
Why Emigration from India is essential?
  • Emigration from India will provide remittances and skills to Indians.
  • It will contribute immensely to India’s IT ecosystem.
  • It will strengthen Indian interests in abroad. For instance, Since 2010, over 10 million Indians have emigrated and the size of the Indian diaspora is now over 30 million. They act as a soft power multiplier for the country.
  • The migration of Indians acts as a network through which both ideas and investment arrive into India.
Measures have been taken by the Government to tackle the brain drain from India:
  • Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Programme: The programme aims to attract talented youth to the study of science at an early stage and build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base.
  • The Ramanujan Fellowship: It is meant for brilliant Indian scientists from outside India to take up scientific research positions in India.
  • The Ramalingaswamy Fellowship: It provides a platform to scientists who are willing to return and work in India.
  • Vaishvik Bharatiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) summit: Under this, Numerous overseas Indian-origin academicians and Indians participated to form ideas on innovative solutions to several challenges.
  • Triad of Scheme for Transformational and Advanced Research in Sciences (STARS), Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) and Impactful Policy Research in Social Science (IMPRESS): Common objective is to boost India specific research in social and pure sciences.
What should India do?
  • Adequate investment in Cutting edge technologies and research: Government should frame a policy with the aim of increasing total GERD (Gross domestic expenditure on R&D) to 2% of India’s GDP. The government has to create more cutting-edge research facilities to bring talented people back to India. For example, About 20 NRI doctors from the US and Europe relocated to Kolkata to set up the West bank Hospital as it has high-tech equipment and facilities.
  • Focus on education and employment: India has too few institutions of excellence and of professional studies. No country has gone up the wealth ladder without widespread availability of both good public education and regular, skilled employment. So focus must be on creating institutions of excellence in education and skilling.
  • Global partnerships in innovation: Global innovation partnerships need to be strengthened by enhancing public-private partnership mechanisms and increased public funds should be earmarked for joint industrial R&D projects.
  • Idea-to-market challenge:  Government needs to create a special fund to help Indian innovations to advance their start-ups during difficult times and become successful, instead of moving abroad for employment opportunities.
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