Brain Drain – The loss of engineers and doctors in India

Brain DrainThe best brains have been flocking abroad ad nauseam. The term Brain Drain is indeed not new to India. In fact, it is such an established fact that most people have become indifferent to it! This trend was noticed as early as the 1960s. The phenomenon elevated to the next level when the Indira Gandhi government took control. During Indira Gandhi’s government in the 1970s, income tax was at an all time high with the top slab having a tax rate of 97.75%! Imagine aspiring to be an entrepreneur at that time. Why would one want to invest in a country where setting up a business would mean for every profit of Rs 100 one made, he was supposed to part away Rs. 98 to government and keep only Rs 2 for himself. (Moreover, the question that pricks my conscience the most is “If I am striving to become an entrepreneur the obvious drive is money. Isn’t it?”) And don’t to forget the sheer amount of running/lobbying one had to do to get a number of approvals to start a business in the license raj era. Top business tycoons like JRD Tata were bound to sell their assets to conform to the economic policies of the time.

Fast forward to the present picture- Research shows that India tops in the skilled migration of scientists, engineers, and doctors. It has increased by 85% in 10 years according to the reports of the highest scientific body in the United States.

Major Reason for Brain Drain

Despite the fact that a specific reason can’t add up to the total debacle, in recent years what has caused the brain drain, for the most part, are undoubtedly the sky-rocketing “cut-offs” in education institutes around the country. The best universities expect their students to be no less than Einstein’s of the 21st century! With students scoring 100% in English, there is nothing much to say about the teaching scheme in place (I just secretly wish that Vivekananda was present to witness this revolution!)

The unreasonable cut-offs shoo away even the deserving candidates, who then begin exploring opportunities for higher education abroad! Most of these Indians often settle there, attracted by the facilities and the higher quality of life provided in these countries. The desire to live in a land where their excellence is rewarded with appropriate recognition makes them lodge away from their homeland.

Curb the Brain Drain

The current scenario has kindled conversation on the administrative level.

“India’s huge population of talented youth means that we have enough intelligent minds who can contribute to India from India and to India from outside India. We must continue to develop more excellent colleges/universities and opportunities here so that the best have avenues here and not only abroad. This development of excellence is happening,” Vijay Raghavan, secretary department of biotechnology, told Hindustan Times.

The increasing trend of the brain drain of skilled workers finally persuaded the government to take action. After witnessing a huge brain drain of doctors (among the 3,000 medical students who went abroad in the last three years, none returned), the health ministry has suspended issuing “no obligation to return certificates” to the medical students going abroad for higher studies.

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Further, this year onwards, the medical students going to the US for higher studies will have to sign a bond with the government, promising to return to India after completing their studies. If he/she doesn’t fulfill the bond obligation, the ministry can write to the US and the permission for the student to practice in the country will be denied.

This is a small step toward brain gain but a step nonetheless. It is time we make opportunities and do what it takes to plug the brain drain!


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