FPJ-Ed: Lack of qualitative higher edu leading to brain drain and non-returning Indians

Unparalleled infrastructure, better research opportunity, flexible academic programmes, global exposure, decent pay scale after graduating from foreign university and better quality of life makes a perfect cocktail for youth to expand their wings to west

Shreya Nupur Dr Meghna DuttaUpdated: Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 06:14 PM IST
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The appointment of Indian born techie Parag Agrawal as a twitter CEO and Economist Gita Gopinath as a deputy managing director of IMF gave many Indians reasons to celebrate. It also heated the debate of India’s brain drain problem, which poses the important question for us, whether these people should be seen as brand builders or lost talent for India. A few weeks back, the ministry of Home affairs conveyed to the Lok Sabha that since 2015, around 8,81,254 Indians have given up their citizenship, and this number is accelerating at faster pace. Which means there is continuous increasing trend of ‘non-resident Indians’ to becoming ‘non-returning Indians’.

When we talk about student migration two recent and authentic studies send a message. One study on class 10 and 12 examination toppers from some private schools of New Delhi (during 1996-2015), concluded that up to 50 percent of toppers left India for their graduate studies. Most of them are employed, settled overseas and serving their host country rather than home country. Another survey concluded that 94 percent of Indian students were aspiring to study abroad in 2021, posing the threat of potential brain drain from India.

Why studying abroad is becoming so attractive for Indian students? Unparalleled infrastructure, better research opportunity, flexible academic programmes, global exposure, decent pay scale after graduating from foreign university and better quality of life makes a perfect cocktail for youth to expand their wings to west. In addition to that, developed nations have come up with several student friendly policies which allow students to work with and after studies.

Data released by RBI in August, 2021 confirms that the outward remittance for ‘study abroad’ is at all-time high with $780 million. This accounts for huge loss of resources and worrying trend for a country that runs a continuous trade deficit. In addition to drainage of financial capital we are also loosing human capital in form of young, skilled and productive minds and thereby, limiting our innovating capacity. Most Countries from where students are migrating also receive stock of foreign students to balance these numbers but India is lagging far behind as it sends 4 times more than what it receives annually, creating huge imbalance.

Although India has come a long way in terms of primary education, it lags in quality higher education. We do not have any university in the list of top 100 QS world university ranking. There is urgent need to work in the direction of world class infrastructure, more pragmatic approach to teaching, collaborative student and faculty exchange programmes with foreign universities and many more.

In order to achieve sustainable and balanced growth any country requires young, skilled and productive manpower i.e, human capital. Several developed countries which are facing a worker shortage, are easing immigration laws. Countries like India which is losing its best minds, future entrepreneurs, investors, consumers, savers and taxpayers etc. should come up with world class opportunities with better quality of life in order to win this battle of brain.

Shreya Nupur is a Research Scholar, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Patna, Bihar.

Dr Meghna Dutta is Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Patna, Bihar.

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