Hundreds of thousands of our qualified youngsters take off for different international airports every year for higher studies or for highly lucrative jobs in the U.S.A., the UK, Germany, France and Australia.
And most of these Indians prefer to settle down abroad, attracted by the facilities and the higher quality of life provided by these countries. We have been crying hoarse about the brain drain from India over the last five decades or more, without going in for a well set blue print to check the counter-productive phenomenon.
Some of the public schools in our metros and our IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) are providing world-class education.
One might wonder that having spent a lot on infrastructure, training and other facilities and the best teaching staff, can the Government and the people of India look away as the talent assiduously nurtured in India, is utilised by other countries for their development and excellence in various fields?
Critics are of the view that when other developed countries provide higher facilities, pay packages and perks, you cannot dissuade our youngsters from going abroad. What has been our loss has been the gain of the countries where our youth has migrated.
Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-American woman astronaut in space, has been a role model for every woman world over including India. Though she became an Indian-American, we still lionise her as a citizen who could climb to the Summit of excellence, when given a chance.
Two distinguished scientists, who won Nobel Prize for their meritorious work in Physics and Medicine in 1983 and 1968, were Dr. S. Chandrasekher and Dr. Hargobind Khorana, respectively. They were working in the US. One might ask—had they been working in India, would they have ever got the highly prestigious prize like the Nobel Prize.
The US took a decision early in 2005, to ease visa restrictions on foreign scientists and academics prompted by the US National Academy of Engineering’s 2005 scroll of honour containing several foreign-born members, including five scholars of Indian origin.
The few Indians who were named among the 74 new members for the year 2005, were Prof. Subhash Mahajan, Chairman, Department of Chemical and Material Engineering, Arizona State University; Prof. Arunava Majumdar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley; Mr. R. Shankar Nair, Senior Vice President, Teng & Associates, Chicago; Prof. Raja V. Ramani, Professor Emeritus, Mining and Geo-environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Subhash Singhal, Director of Fuel Cells, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.
These eminent Indians were recognised for their work in areas such as semi-conductors, fuel cells, nano- technology, building technology and coal mine safety These five professionals joined an elite list of some 2,000 engineers, including around 50 Indians who are lifetime members of the National Academy of Engineering and Sciences.
Honours of 2004 included Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates. Among the distinguished American Indians who are members of this body include Nobel Laureates Dr. Hargobind Khorana and Dr. Chandrasekhar.
During the decades — long debate on the brain drain, it was said that our youngsters leave India just because excellence is neither recognized nor rewarded in India. This could have been partly true at the beginning of this debate. But today, things have changed beyond recognition and talented people can reach the highest position possible if only they are prepared to work hard.
Youngsters from India — whatever be the field they are working in — are today suitably recognized and rewarded. Take the field of sports where many of the celebrities are household names — Sonia Mirza, Narain Karthikeyan, Sachin Tendulkar, Anju Bobby George, RT. Usha and several others.
Innovation and managerial skill get recognition when Indians can vie with others in excellence from any part of the world. If there is one individual who has catapulted India to the number one position in milk production in the world, it is none other than Dr. Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution.
A top engineer who completed the Konkan Railway in record time, Mr. E. Sreedharan has built up the world class Delhi Metro. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is no longer a master of the Indian screen only. His presentation of in Banega Crorepati and other ventures have made a living legend of global proportions. Take the story f the Ambani Brothers, theTatas,the Mittals and others who are having their footprints in different continents.
Have had so many Indians who rose to the summit as Miss Universe and Miss World, but none has earned so much acclaim globally, in Bollywood, Hollywood or the Cannes Film Festival, as Ms. Aishwarya Rai.
In the wake of globalization, India has produced a galaxy of eminent entrepreneurs in IT, biotechnology, civil aviation, steel production and the like. Just mention a field and we are already in the vanguard or moving ahead at a frenetic pace. A time may come when India would be capable of reversing the so-called brain drain to India’s supreme advantage.
And happily enough, this is already happening now. A report released by a high-tech lobbying group in the Silicon Valley in 2005 revealed that the highly-skilled Indian-born talent that once flocked to the US was returning home ,”turning America’s brain drain into India’s brain gain.” Titled “Losing the Competitive Edge: The Challenge for Science and Technology in the US”, the report said that countries like India and China, through the restructuring of their economics, were dramatically increasing the skill sets of their work force, thereby Posing a challenge to the US leadership in the technology domain.
“Public-private partnerships (in India) have invested in technical universities and communications infrastructure to create cutting edge technology parks in places like Bangalore, in Karnataka will make India more competitive and alluring to vectors and multinational companies.”
The report further said: “They are dramatically increasing the skill sets of their work force, investing in research and development, and adopting advanced technologies, all to create wealth and spur economic growth.”
According to Mr. Dinesh Mohan, Professor and Coordinator, Transport Research and Injury Prevention Programme, NT, Delhi, detailed scientific studies of the graduates from IIT’s in Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu) show that about 35 per cent to 40 per cent of them proceed abroad for higher studies, and about a quarter of them return to work in India.
This is indeed a happy news and indicates that our youth is absorbed in top jobs in India itself—occupying top rungs of Research and Development (R&D) or management positions in almost all technical companies in the public and private sectors.
Many even hold senior positions in the PWD, the Railways and the Army. More opportunities are now available for Postgraduates and Ph.Ds in engineering, with MNCs setting up their R&D centers in India. In 1950, the number of undergraduate engineers was 3,700 and today, it is 4.5 lakhs.
National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), a trade group of Indian outsourcing companies, estimates that 30,000 technology professionals have moved back in the last 18 months.
Bangalore, Hyderabad and suburbs of Delhi are becoming magnets for an influx of Indians, who are the top-earning ethnic group in the US. These cities, with their Western style work environment, generous pay cheques and quick career jumps; offer returnees what, until now, they could get only in places such as Palo Alto and Boston.
According to The Times Higher Rankings, developed by the Times Higher Education Supplement rheas) HT’s in India are ranked third in the world.
The first is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) followed by the University of California, Berkeley. After IIT’s come Stanford University; Imperial College, London; Cambridge University; California Institute of Technology; Tokyo University; National University of Singapore and Beijing University.
Even NTs have to change with the times to accommodate the growing fields and opportunities for our youngsters, thereby, making them realize that openings at home are more attractive for them than opportunities abroad.
If a highly qualified alumnus of NT can become a successful entrepreneur, he can wield greater money power and social status within his own country, while at the same time keeping intact his family moorings. What are the skills one needs to become an entrepreneur?
Technical knowledge, business acumen and a sound understanding of law and economics. Most educational institutions in India are designed to address only one or two of these areas. I IT, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) is now attempting to blend all these together and produce top-notch entrepreneurs. It is already in discussion with the top industrialist, Mr. Anil Ambani to fine-tune this new course. NT, Powai is planning to start 14 new special courses in pure science, management and economics and both IIT, Mumbai and NT, Roorkee (Uttaranchal) have picked up some unusual subjects like waste water science and technology, nanotechnology, natural resources, geophysics, polymer science and pulp and paper technology to run as degree programmes from 2006 onwards. Because of their reputation, new courses introduced at NTs will attract the best students and teachers.
Like our NTs, our IIMs too, have earned a pride of place in our specialised learning system. Top companies are making campus selection of the bright students from these institutes and many enter such fields as operations, finance, HR, marketing and systems.
After finalising plans to launch the first one-year postgraduate programme in management for executives in the country, IIM, Ahmedabad, has joined hands with the ESSEC Business School, Paris (France) to offer a double-degree programme for MBA students from September 2006.
With state-of the-art specialty hospitals emerging in different parts of India, patients from abroad find that complicated surgeries -could be had in India at a relatively lower cost. If doctors and specialists find the going good in their own country, why go abroad?
When India can stand good in comparison with other developed countries in a variety of fields, the youth in India would find that working in their own country is more rewarding than working elsewhere in the world. And even if they go abroad to better their specialization, they would still prefer to return home and pursue a life of their own choice, without sundering the traditional ties and with the nursing of the Indian values.
After all, a home is a home and not all the wealth in the world can buy the happiness that one can get in one’s home and country.