There’s a brain drain—into India
Yesterday we saw how the HRD ministry is considering doing more damage by imposing an exit tax on emigrating graduates. In today’s DNA Mukul Asher and Amarendu Nandy show that the UPA government is actually missing the real opportunity to develop human resources. So, not only does the government have a wrong solution, it’s even gotten the problem wrong.
Thanks to a combination of self-defeating immigration policies in America and the economic opportunities India holds out, 35,000 to 60,000 highly-skilled Indians have been coming back to India every year. That’s equivalent to, just quantitatively, the output of perhaps 50 to 100 colleges. Asher and Nandy write that “the reverse brain drain from the United States has significant implications for India’s aspirations to increase its weight in the world economy, and to emerge as a knowledge-economy”. And, instead of working on its own self-defeating schemes, the Indian government would do well to attract valuable resources back in.
“India must strive to substantially improve its social amenities and physical infrastructure while continuing to expand economic opportunities. This will have to be undertaken in the context of greater mobility of labor and intensified competition for talent, both domestically and internationally.
India’s demographic profile is currently skewed towards a young workforce, and there is no looming danger of a labour shortage. However, even with such favourable demographic profile, there is increasing evidence of massive skill shortage being faced by the MNCs operating in India…Some progress in increasing the supply of persons with employable skills is being made, but more systemic reforms, including re-balancing the public-private sector mix in education are required.
There is also an attitudinal factor that needs to be urgently addressed. Unless the policymakers and other stakeholders demonstrate respect for skilled workers and professionals, India will find it difficult to sustain benefits from the reverse flow or retain its talent.
The extent to which Indian practices and mindset need to be more attuned to the above is illustrated by the recent press reports that some of the doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India’s leading institution for training doctors, have not received their degrees two years after graduation. That such an essential routine task has been neglected to the serious detriment of the career prospects of the medical doctors, among the most respected and essential profession, without anyone being held accountable is a discouraging sign.[DNA]