How Reverse Brain Drain Has Helped India: Why Must We Encourage Our Students To Study Abroad

Pursuing a degree abroad signals to employers that the individual has the flexibility, cultural awareness and global industrial understanding.

Once upon a time, there were skilled migrants who flocked into the Silicon Valley, Toronto or London for better education and job opportunities. People know this phenomenon, call it Brain Drain. As per the Ministry of External Affairs, around 13.6 million Indian nations were living abroad as of February 2020. But, a considerable portion of this population who are students and work permit professionals, expressed that they want to return to their home country - India. Call it the improving infrastructure or better work opportunities. The new generation of Indians is coming back. Welcome to the era of Reverse Brain Drain.

What’s 'Reverse Brain' Drain? 

Brain drain occurs when elite migrants like - PhD Scholars, researchers, scientists, engineers, and other intellectuals migrate to a developed country for higher education, do research, or gain working experience. However, when these professionals return to their home country after a few years of experience and open a business, join a research university to teach, or work in an MNC home country. That’s called "Reverse Brain Drain".

When did the 'Reverse Brain Drain' Phenomenon start?

There was a time when India and China were known for their 'muscle power' a.k.a manual labour which was in great demand for trade and manufacturing.  But, in the last 40 years, they started developing a new kind of power that has been developing, thanks to the growth of technology. This power is aptly coined as 'brainpower' a.k.a skilled labour.

However, it was slipping away from these countries due to lack of infrastructure, education quality and fewer job opportunities. For the longest time, this 'brainpower' was being drained and used to boom the economies of already developed countries. Therefore, hindering national development. 

Around 2008 onwards (post-economic crises), a change started developing. The brain or “human capital” started moving back from a more developed country to a less developed country that rapidly. The UK Brexit, Trump’s 'America First' propaganda, and later the COVID-19 travel restrictions only accelerated the Reverse Brain Drain phenomenon.

How Is India Benefiting From This?

India has the largest diaspora, 30 million Indians (approx) scattered around the globe. Indian skilled professionals who have been trained and based in the US, UK or Australia are returning home in increasing numbers to take advantage of the country’s positive economic growth and employment opportunities in the STEM field. Returnees with good work experience and entrepreneurial skills are setting up successful startups, thanks to their global networks and link to international venture capitals.

Cities like Mumbai, Gurgaon, Noida, Bangalore and Hyderabad have been home to many skilled immigrants. In return, driving the development of these cities. These cities now offer career opportunities and western-style work environments for multinational firms, growth of Business and Tech Parks, technology and industrial research institutions. 

Most of the Fortune 500 companies have large projects invested in India, spearheading the growth in Biotechnology, Computer Sciences, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and more. Thus, making significant investments to improve and establish digital infrastructures and build townships to cater for the families of these skilled migrants.

Why Encourage Indian Students To Study Abroad?

The obvious reason is so that they can observe and absorb the western education and lifestyle of the developed countries. India is striving to attain “Developed Country” status in the next 20 years, the knowledge gained will help the country to replicate some processes. Students who go abroad for studies get to network globally not just with their peers and faculty but also with the rich alumni group. These contacts will help the students when they open or set up a venture in India, and help in foreign investment. 

Pursuing a degree abroad signals to employers that the individual has the flexibility, cultural awareness and global industrial understanding. Leading Indian firms especially Technology and FMCG firms constantly lookout for top-level Indian graduates from premier universities (abroad) to fill up their middle and top-level management positions. Most of the multinational companies and consultancy firms like McKinsey, BCG, etc are managed by Indians who have lived and worked abroad.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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