India has initiated reverse brain drain. Realizing how many scientists, doctors, engineers and other professionals they loose every year, Indian government is taking steps to lure them back to the country.
The scheme for NRIs, though still in infancy, has already netted at least 40 PHDs and MTechs working in academics or industry in countries like US, UK, Japan and Sweden.
“We are intensifying the drive. In 2007 alone, we received 150 applications from NRI scientists and engineers and finally picked up 22. The number of applicants is increasing, with the majority coming from US,” a top Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is taking serious steps to stem brain drain by offering very attractive careers in science and industry. Apart from fiscal and career incentives, the government is also considering facilitating mobility between institutions, between institutions and academia, as well as from research institutions to the production and marketing sectors.
NRIs who have spent ten or more years abroad, and have a cushion of cash would certainly find reverse brain drain schemes attractive. Not only can they enjoy company of their families and relatives in India, but also earn respectable salaries.
Apart from government initiatives, another factor favoring reverse brain drain is booming Indian economy. Headhunters say the booming economy has triggered a flood of inquiries from NRIs, looking for high-growth jobs in India. Sectors like infrastructure, retail, capital markets and insurance are sought after. Last year, headhunters estimate, about 4,000 NRIs returned to India. This year the number is expected to double.
Bangalore, Hyderabad and the suburbs of Delhi are becoming magnets for an influx of Indians, who are the top-earning ethnic group in the United States. Even as the lifestyle gaps between India and the West have narrowed rapidly, salary differences at top executive levels have virtually disappeared. Annual pay packages of a half-million dollars are common in Bangalore, but even for those taking a pay cut to return home, the lower cost of living balances smaller paychecks. Housing boom in India is another factor promoting reverse brain drain.
It is not certain as to how many NRIs are returning home every year. However, researches done at Harvard, Duke, and New York Universities have revealed that “approximately one in five new legal immigrants from India or China and one on three employment principals either plan to leave the US or are uncertain about remaining.” USA is worried about this lose-lose situation, since not only will it loose its top talent but will also give birth to competition. Indians have founded more companies in the US as compared to next four ethnic groups from UK, China, Taiwan, and Japan. Loosing a large percentage of Indians will pose a major threat to US economy. Clearly one country’s drain is another country’s gain.
With improved economic climate in India the number of westerners wanting to work in India has increased substantially. Earlier this step would be taken by only top of the line professionals if at all since they would be paid handsomely. However, now you see even middle class westerners moving to India to take up regular jobs. Challenge in job, diversity, high management job opportunities, appreciating rupee, and slowdown in the economy back home are only some of the factors promoting these migrations to India.
India is as ready as ever to absorb the reverse brain drain. Some of the growing industries like retail, automotive, pharmaceuticals and oil and gas need the talent.
India, already known as the back office of the world, will account for two-third of the global Knowledge Process Offshoring (KPO) segment that would create up to 1.8 lakh new jobs here by 2011. India will only be able to meet a quarter of the demand and Evaluserve, a business research and analytics firm, estimates that NRIs and foreign workers from China, Polland, Phillipines, Russia, and others will make up the shortfall.
NDTV report on Reverse Brain Drain in India