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With Indians being the second largest diaspora in the world, the Brain Drain Phenomenon has always remained a major concern for the Government of India. Whether due to better career prospects or due to difficulty in getting admission to a top educational institution in India, the Brain Drain Process continues to haunt India.

President Pranab Mukherjee in his address during the tenth convocation of the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, stressed on this issue.

 
 
 
 “Our system must be geared to discourage any loss of intellectual capital and at the same time welcome scholars overseas including NRI and Persons of Indian Origin to return to the country. Such an initiative will enable transmission of ideas and new methods of teaching and research from abroad to India,”

Pranab Mukherjee,
President of India at NIT Kurukshetra 10th Convocation.
 
 
 
 

The New Science Policy of India, which aims to position the nation among the top five global scientific powers by 2020, understands the implications of Brain Drain. The major reasons for Brain Drain in India have been lack of funds, opportunities and prospects forcing doctoral education aspirants to move abroad. In order to reverse the brain drain, the government and industry, along with the country's elite universities and technical institutions, have come together to undertake a number of measures. The Ramanujan Fellowship, Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Programme and the Ramalingaswamy Fellowship are among those that will provide a trigger to the Reverse Brain Drain Phenomenon.

A study by the Union Science and Technology Ministry on the Reverse Brain Drain in India has revealed that an increasing competition abroad, improving research prospects in India, patriotism and nostalgia, and a scientific rigour are some of the major factors that are drawing Indian scientists back to their homeland. As told by Dr T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, to IANS, “About 500 scientists have come back from abroad and are working in various institutions across the country. Of these, only six have gone back for various reasons.”

In a recent study published by the Harvard Law School, 50 per cent of NRI returnees are doing so for entrepreneurship and business start-up reasons. Some key findings of the same study:
  • 10 per cent of Indians surveyed held senior management positions in the US, but 44 per cent found jobs at that level in India
  • 61 per cent of Indians found opportunities for professional advancement better at home than in the US
  • Most also found better opportunities to start a business in India
  • 79 per cent were motivated to return home because of growing demand for their skills in India
  • Just 6 per cent of Indian students surveyed would like to stay permanently in the US
  • Most fear the US economy will lag global growth rates in the near future
  • 86 per cent felt the best days for India's economy lay ahead
  • 53 per cent of respondents hope to start businesses in India

There are many factors that have helped initiating the Reverse Brain Drain Process. When the dot-com bubble burst and the economic downturn began in 2008, many NRIs were compelled to return to India. While at that time it looked like a misfortune, several interesting turns of events revealed rather interesting facts. At a time when the US and other countries suffered through struggling economies, Indian economy recorded its best ever performance. India’s encouragement to entrepreneurship and untapped and unlimited economic potential has resulted in the NRIs and PIOs returning to the country.

Whether it is business start-ups, high-level positions at MNCs or purely to be in a country that they can confidently call "home", NRIs have been returning in large scale ever since the US recession began. An irrational fear among Westerners, mostly due to the recession, that an accelerated growth of Indians in their countries will make it more difficult for them to obtain jobs has also contributed towards the Reverse Brain Drain. Indians who moved abroad for higher studies are also coming back and setting up companies in India. These companies provide equal or better opportunities than their counterparts  in the West.

One of the major factors of the Reverse Brain Drain Phenomenon is that, with the recent immigration rule changes, students with an F1 Visa in the US are unable to get into entrepreneurship due to laws that forbid them from working on "outside jobs". They can work as an employee (within their domain of studies) or in internships with companies in his/her field of study, but they are not allowed to be self-employed in a business venture. Also, Indian scientists and engineers are returning due to better career and growth prospects in the country. Besides the  job security, the intangible benefits of family and cultural ties is also luring Indians settled abroad to return home.
Another reason which is forcing NRIs back to India is that they are unable to get visas abroad for their spouses, parents and relatives. On the contrary, NRIs are welcomed with open arms in India as they will most likely contribute towards the economy in a meaningful way. Although it is too early to predict anything, the beginning of the Reverse Brain Drain Phenomenon has definitely given a ray of hope to the political, economic as well as social tinkers and academia concerned over the Brain Drain in India.

# inspired by a blog written by Raghu Kumar published at profit.ndtv.com

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