Brain drain

The One-Way TicketIMG-20180918-WA0003

The world is witnessing an exodus today. From financial bigwigs to skilled artisans, everyone in the world is on the move for a life that they have always imagined for themselves. This has resulted into something referred to as the Brain Drain.


Brain Drain is a phenomenon where talented individuals leave their homeland in search for better opportunities elsewhere in the world, an immediate negative effect of the Human Capital Flight. This idea of travel is not something that has been influenced by technology or economic growth only but it has been here for quite a long time; many other minute factors also play a big role in it. From an annoying boss to an unhappy work environment, even the smallest of stimuli motivate people to reconsider. Thriving companies are always on the lookout for such talented individuals who would help them realize their goals and hence have much more to offer them as compared to their current mediocre workspace.


Since its origin, brain drain has been a major issue that the world has tried to conquer but has failed miserably. The basic needs of man have always been food, clothing and shelter. But humans “evolved” over time and so did our priorities.


Today, we look at a bigger paycheck, a cleaner environment and success as the basic things we deserve (for all the effort that we put in). For this we tend to leave our country as soon as we become employable in some other developed part of the world. And why not, if you have less stress at work,  can afford better products for the family and plus are getting a bigger sum to spend, why not just grab the opportunity? As Barack Obama puts it, “Money is not the only answer, but it does make a difference”.


The world witnesses such trade-ins and trade-outs on a daily basis. People from all over the world, irrespective of their area of expertise relocate in search for a better lifestyle. Brain drain has affected almost all the sectors and industries in the world. You name it – engineering, medicine, banking, IT, education – all have witnessed many cases of migration.


So what drives people to migrate?


Various negative factors of the home country such as political instability, poor quality of life, limited access to health care and a dearth of economic opportunity influence brain drain. Other factors like the absence of research facilities, employment discrimination, lack of freedom, and poor working conditions also fuel dissatisfaction. This leads to a feeling of collective discontent among people persuading them to consider other better opportunities outside their country and eventually they forsake their homeland to sometimes not return at all.


Countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and other African and Caribbean countries have observed humongous amounts of people leaving the country in the pursuit of happiness. Countries of The Middle East like Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq witness large masses moving out, fed up of constant political turmoil and unstable environment, to look for a better future.


Surprisingly, today, not just the developing countries but also the developed countries are vulnerable to brain drain. In Europe, people tend to migrate from South-Eastern and Central Europe to Western Europe, and at the same time, people from Western Europe leave for Australia, Canada and the US. So it is not like there is going to be a stream of people incoming into developed nations only; it solely depends on the individual’s desire to settle in any country or region he wishes to, given his interests and employability.


India also has lived up to its reputation of being among the top. Indian diaspora is the world’s largest with about 15 million migrants of India living abroad. A recent study concluded that India has seen a 256% rise in brain drain since the last decade. People leave the country seeking a better environment, better pay and a more gratifying work culture. The migration of Indians to the US has been one of the most significant happenings in the past few decades. This has not gone down well with President Trump though and he has hence put a check on the burgeon.


History also cites religion as an influencer of mass departure. During the second world war, the Holocaust resulted in many Jews being forced to seek refuge in other Jew friendly nations. This activity had some prominent names like Albert Einstein, von Neumann and Niels Bohr associated with it who had no other option but to leave their country for the dire need to survive which evidently proved very beneficial for the host countries and a big loss to the source countries.


Similar incidents have occurred in the recent past where many scientists and engineers have left a certain country, India for instance, and settled abroad bringing in immense profits to those countries. Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, Kalpana Chawla and Satya Nadella being a few of the lot.


Hence brain drain might also prove to be brain gain for another country.


But from my own eye-glass, I see population explosion as the most important reason for the brain drain of India at-least. As population doubled and tripled in the past few decades, and as technology and communication flourished hand in hand, unemployment also started to increase. So did the crime rate. There were not enough jobs available for the people leading to a decrease in the quality of life, access to amenities and a sadder environment.

Moreover a rapid growth in the IT sector pushed many people to reconsider their career paths and adopt a liking towards computers. Hence an internal brain drain resulted which saw people leaving their own area of expertise and opting for higher paying jobs instead within the country itself also known as the industrial brain drain. As the inflow increased, opportunities decreased. Again the same dissatisfaction, the same humdrum and the hope of a better future.


Additionally another problem that India faces is the amount of respect it gives to a certain profession. In India, less pay translates to less importance. Unlike European countries and the States, people engaged in small paying jobs don’t get as much respect and recognition that their engineering and medicine counterparts do. A degree in arts and humanities is still perceived as a minor achievement in a student’s life as parents and the society at large think that a person with such degrees is destined to be a low earning middle class insignificant person. This has led to a situation wherein if you throw a stone randomly in India, chances are, it will hit a dog or an engineer. And here the dog might not be having a leash around his neck but the Engineer will definitely have one.


Hence, people start considering happier nations as a getaway and start packing bags to catch the flight that would take them to a healthier and a richer destination.


So what do we do to tackle this problem?


Various solutions have been proposed by experts like the establishment of better universities in the home country, increasing the average annual salary of people, providing better incentives, eradicating corruption and nepotism, etc.

Many countries in the world have started undertaking measures to prevent their medical talent pool from leaving the country by imposing a mandatory service period whereby public medical school graduates are required to work in the country for at least three years, with an added incentive per month for those who do not practice privately. China has put restrictions on the recruitment of doctors by the private sector so that the public sector has some talent to hold on to.


Another method that could be adopted is circular migration. Circular migration involves temporary migration and return migration to the place of residence. Modern forms of transport and communication, increased social networks, and the growth of international corporations all contribute to the growing phenomena. Circular migration expects people to travel abroad, lend their expertise for the host country’s development and return back home. This method still remains susceptible to chances of brain drain though.   

The best way according to me is to keep population in check. And this applies to the whole world and not just India or China for that matter. This will result in slow death of all the other problems which influence brain drain and ultimately help to cease brain drain for the good.


And how about reconsidering Karl Marx? Do we today need a world which is based totally on communism?


While these questions remain unanswered, the home countries keep on suffering from the problem of lack of skilled personnel to treat their patients, help their farmers and protect their borders. Where are these people? They are on the flight holding the one-way ticket that guarantees them a life that their homeland can’t afford to.


– Vedant Puranik

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