Look at the Positive Side of India's Brain Drain

Country’s best political and analytical minds gather at ThinkEdu Conclave organised by Express to allay fears over the ‘Look West’ policy of the youth; Farooq Abdullah points to dependence of foreign univs on Indian students while Chandrababu Naidu highlights NRI contribution; Arun Shourie calls for de-affiliation from boards like UGC and AICTE

Published: 01st February 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st February 2014 01:24 AM   |  A+A-

Better opportunities abroad and third-rate teachers may be contributing to India’s best brains leaving the country, but it’s not entirely a bad thing - we have “one billion more brains”, said panelists at a high-voltage discussion on India’s brain drain problem.

When debating brain drain, it would have been easy to paint a very dark picture of our IIT grads migrating to Silicon Valley and our engineers manning oil rigs across continents. But when some of the best political and analytical minds like Farooq Abdullah, M M Pallam Raju, Chandrababu Naidu, Arun Shourie and Shankar Aiyyar do it, people may end up thinking about brain drain with a lot more optimism. And that is precisely what happened after a panel discussion on ‘India Needs to Check its Brain Drain’.

After acknowledging that several Indians who had returned from abroad went on to do good things for the country, Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said, “India has enough, so don’t underestimate what we have. The more we capture other nations the better for us. We’ve showed them now that we have much better brains. We’ve made ourselves look small. It’s time to wake up and realise that we are 100 times greater and that their (foreign) universities will collapse if Indian students don’t go abroad to study. India has a bright future and we will become one of the greatest nations because of its brains.”

Agreeing with him, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said that he had predicted a “brain gain” years ago and that was happening now. “NRIs are actually investing in India so that is a positive sign,” he said.

And yet, all of them grudgingly acceded that the problem could not be swept under the carpet. BJP leader Arun Shourie said there were quite a few things that we could do to stop bright students from wanting to go abroad.

“Do not kill excellence in the name of equality as there is no place for second rate stuff - this is a cruel world. We must have a drive for de-affiliation from boards and universities. The IIMs aren’t affiliated to

anyone and so they don’t give degrees. Are their diplomas not accepted? The UGC and the AICTE have become obstacles,” he listed.

He also suggested tax incentives for private companies that contributed to increasing the spread of good education.

Putting some faith, money and students into Indian institutes could make the difference, said Abdullah. “We must make our varsities feel that they are far greater than Oxford and Yale. Why do you pay so much to study there? Spend the same money in your own country and that University will improve,” he said. Arun Shourie pointed out that simply investing the $10 billion, the amount that Indians spend on international education annually, could create “300 IITs and IIMs here every year”.

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