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Brain drain as a phenomenon illustrates the unequal distribution of advantages and disadvantages of global migration that the countries have to bear. As highly skilled professionals migrate to countries offering better opportunities, it is the source countries that suffer the greater share of losses. The countries that lure this high flow of human capital continue to grow wealthier without having to provide for training of these already skilled experts. The effects of brain drain have far-reaching effects on a country’s economy since emigrants usually take with them the fraction of the value of their training sponsored by the government or other organizations leading to de-skilling of individuals in their own country.

From the early 1960s, Indian specialists routinely left India for the economic opportunities and better living conditions in civilised western countries, in particular to the UK and the US. In 2013, the UNDP estimated that India loses $2 billion a year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S. Indian students going abroad for their higher studies costs India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually. Migration of highly skilled professionals to developed countries has widened the “knowledge gap” as rich countries emerge as knowledge magnets and developing countries continue to dwell in poverty. India’s brain drain problem is rooted in higher education, employment, lack of opportunities and favourable migration policies.

With the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America, a string of his drastic policies is likely to have a positive effect on India in terms of reversing the phenomenon of brain drain. Trump’s move to not extend H-1B visas will disrupt not only careers but also families of Indian nationals who have been waiting for their green cards for almost a decade now. Amidst all of this, this move could be seen as a boon for India. As India develops an ecosystem for start-ups and innovation, a large number of Indian tech workers see India as a viable option and their return can give a big push to Indian business. In the long term, as the best of country’s talent returns to India, India’s Information Technology (IT) industry can turn into true innovators. However, the expected influx of Indian nationals in the country from the US is as likely as they considering Canada, UK as other viable options after the US.

The tough stance on immigration in the US has made Canada a popular immigration destination for Indians. According to a recent report on international education, there has been a significant rise in the number of Indians studying in Canada as compared to a nominal increase in enrolment of new Indian students in US colleges and universities. The rhetoric surrounding H1B visas in the US has led to an increasing number of Indians who are obtaining permanent residence through Express Entry as well as other options. Approximately, 41,805 Indians were granted permanent status in 2017 as opposed to 39,790 in 2016 and 39,525 in 2015. Indian candidates in the Canadian Experience Class pool, an immigration program that allows individuals who have worked in Canada for at least one year to immigrate permanently, have increased indicating how Indians are viewing Canada as an alternate immigration destination to the US

Another concern, especially of Indian science, technology, engineering and mathematics(STEM) students have been with regard to the reversal of extension of Optional Practical Training(OPT) in the US. During the OPT period, students can work on a student visa. The proposed move can benefit immigration to countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand. Germany is another lucrative option as the German Federal Foreign Office grants students an 18-month extension of visa after studies to seek a job. In France, Indian students who graduate from French business and engineering schools can extend their stay in the country for up to two years to gain work experience. Another attractive destination for Indian STEM students is Australia. Australia’s immigration policy allows all graduating students who have studied for a minimum of two years in Australia to get a Post Study Work(PSW) visa for two years irrespective of the specialisation.

The case for India with regard to its IIT graduates has shown a welcoming trend in the past few years. Having lost a large population of IIT graduates to the first world countries, there has been a notable increase in the number of IIT graduates staying back in the country. This is because they now feel that there are many new opportunities for them to work for multinational companies within India itself. The desire of these IIT graduates to start their own companies can be fulfilled back at home as India is proving to be a budding ecosystem for start-ups. In addition to this, the presence of finest management institutes in the country like Indian Institute of Management(IIM) has attracted these graduates who wish to move to areas like business management and finance.

The ample opportunities offered by the ‘smart cities’ (Bangalore, Hyderabad, parts of Delhi and Mumbai) of India have drawn skilled immigrants in the US homeward. These skilled professionals desire to take advantage of the new job opportunities and to strengthen their connections with their heritage. However, such a brain gain cannot be guaranteed because as the US shuts its doors, other countries continue to offer opportunities which may be better than the US itself.






S.,Raveesh. Brain Drain: Socio-Economic Impact on Indian Society. www.ijhssi.org/papers/v2(5)/version-3/C251217.pdf.



Image Reference: http://www.irishnews.com/business/2017/05/16/news/let-s-set-about-reversing-this-brain-drain--1026742/


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Written By Shubhra Aswal

Pursuing BA Political Science (Honours) degree from Delhi University

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