Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Brain Drain?

The internet was in its infancy, back when I joined graduate school.  Major research universities were connected, of course, and there were plenty of groups that were focused on specific topics.  One of those groups was soc.culture.indian, which was about all things India--from cricket and politics to movies and cooking.

One of the more frequently passed around and commented posts there was about the "n+1" syndrome that apparently affected plenty of students from India.  Those ill with this syndrome will typically tell themselves, and their friends and family, that they would return to India in "n" years.  And, with every passing year, with various life changes, that "n" continued to remain the same number, however.  The "n+1" was about the mind that was conflicted between staying in the US versus returning to India.

I had no such conflict.  And if anyone asked me about my plans, I added my own funny line.  "It is a country with hundreds of millions of people.  They are not going to miss me."  Ha ha.

Intellectually, there was the interest in brain drain.  If the talented leave, then what about the development of the country?  And, what about the investment the country had made in those who leave?  Should there be a tax on the incomes of these expats?

It has been more than three decades since.  The Indian diaspora is the largest in the world:
India has the largest number of persons born in the country who are now living outside its borders. The number of Indian-born persons residing abroad numbered 17 million in 2017.
That is to be expected from a country whose population exceeds that of the population of the entire African continent by a 100 million people.  Let that sink in: India's population is greater than the population of the entire African continent.

I am an Indian-born person, though an American citizen for a long time.  Most Indian-born persons living and working outside India carry only Indian passports.  Their connections to India means that there is one heck of a money flow from the expats to the home country.  How much do the Indian expats send home?
India retained the top position as recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending about USD 69 billion back home last year
69 billion dollars.

I tell ya, they don't miss me one bit!  My exit was no brain drain; as the old joke goes, with my move from India to the US, maybe I even simultaneously increased the IQ levels in both countries ;)