Wednesday, June 13, 2007

India Brain Gain Fallacy

India has long suffered from a brain drain, or human capital flight. India's best trained and talented scientists and technologists have generally left India for the US, Canada, and UK over the last several decades due to lack of opportunity and quality of life.

Recent media coverage of India would suggest that the brain drain has reversed itself. That India is experiencing a brain gain whereby Indians and non-Indians are emigrating to India. This brain gain phenomenon is a fallacy. While more Indians are staying within the country upon completing their education, India is still suffering a brain drain, albeit not as bad as it was before. Those top-notch Indians leaving India for work or school are not returning to their homeland with particular vigor.

A revealing fact: not a single one of my Indian born or American born Indian friends from MIT have returned to India. Of my classmates at HBS who graduated this year, I know of only seven that are returning to India (of approximately 35 Indian born and 70 North American/UK born students in the 07 HBS Class). I am curious to see if my batch at HBS differs from this year.

I do not doubt that India will be benefit from a brain gain in my lifetime, but that day has not yet arrived.


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