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?