Clogging the Brain Drain

A major concern for India over the last several decades has been the migration of India’s most talented and knowledgeable citizens overseas. One needs just a visit to places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, and most especially California’s Silicon Valley to see the effects of this migration and the success that Indian talent has found outside their motherland.

An examination of the Bay area’s Indian population clearly illustrates this phenomenon:

· The median income in the Bay Area’s ethnic Indian community is more than $107,000 a year.

· Almost 75 percent of Bay Area ethnic Indian adults have a bachelor’s degree.

· Nearly 70 percent are in management or professional positions.

· Roughly 50 percent are homeowners.

· More than 40 Bay Area venture firms have Indian leadership.

These numbers seem especially ironic considering, almost a third of the world’s most impoverished people reside in India. So what caused so many of the India’s best and the brightest to leave?

An obvious answer is the Indian economy which was relatively closed up until even the 2000’s, with high tariffs and laws against joint ventures. With India’s over-population and growing amount of young professionals, the opportunities inside India seemed small and worthless compared to the prospects of the west. In fact, by 1986, nearly 60% of Indian Institute of Technology engineering graduates migrated principally to the Bay Area. Indian technology firms and their clients solution to the countries restrictions was to ‘export’ Indian engineers and programmers to work in the US at client sites.

But things are starting to change dramatically and many expatriate Indians are increasingly going back to their roots. With the economic downturn in the US and the rising economic growth in India in recent years, many young professionals are deciding that opportunities are actually becoming more plentiful in India. Many established Indian professionals are giving up their green cards for a more luxurious life in India and a reunion with their culture. Some of the people returning to India weren’t even born in India and are offspring of the brain-drain generation of the 70’s and 80’s but have found a home away from home.

So, is America now at a risk of brain drain as the unemployment rate rises and the economy faces hard times?

-Phil Hamer

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3 Responses to Clogging the Brain Drain

  1. Chase Janvrin says:

    Is America at risk of losing top talent? Absolutely. As the world continues to shrink, and labor forces become more mobile, individuals will be more likely to go to the opportunities, no matter where they are. We’ve already seen a workforce shift on a different level; the Mexican immigrant labor force that we usually depend on to harvest crops has been declining drastically due to the low value of the dollar. It’s no longer worth it to them to be away from their families to send money back. Mexicans are going back to Mexico. Indians are going back to India. How long before Americans are going to India to find work, and sending their money back to their families in America? That is, assuming we still have top talent to export.

  2. Matthew Perez says:

    Although the unemployment rate in the United States is the highest it has been in 26 years, there are still many opportunities in America, especially in the sciences. For example, many foreign automakers are expanding there production facilities in the US. Mercedes Benz is moving the production of their mass-market vehicle, the C-class, to their Alabama facility and Volkswagen is building an entire production and testing facility in Tennessee. Opportunities are also available for engineers due to the aging of the engineering workforce.

    In fact, most of the jobs lost due to the economic recession are in the service industry. In the service industry, the lost jobs are
    primarily associated with food service, retail, and entertainment.
    Although these losses have severe consequences for the country and affect the economy as a whole, positions for young professionals are still available. It is more difficult for those who wish to start their own businesses to aquire funding but other jobs sstill exist. I think that although there will be some individuals want to take advantage of the growth of India, I believe it has more to do with economic success of the country rather than the problems of the United States.

  3. Although there is an influx of Indians back to their homeland, i don’t think it is enough to constitute a brain drain. I believe that some “brains” will leave the country more so because of the emergence of India rather than the decline of America. Engineering and technological positions are always in demand in the US, and I don’t think that they will change any time soon. With the ever increasing growth of Apple, Google, Research in Motion, and other technology sector companies in the US, it is hard to believe that highly successful and intelligent workers would rather work elsewhere.

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