India continues to suffer socio-economically from the ‘Brain Drain’ even though it witnessed transformation of its economy from the status of underdeveloped to the most important emerging economy in the world. Indian is aiming to become a five trillion dollar economy by 2024 but unfortunately in the absence of better opportunities, people in good numbers are leaving the country to fulfil their lifelong dreams in the western world. It is estimated that close to 200,000 students go abroad every year for higher education having an estimated outflow of Rs. 50,000 crores per annum. The outflow of such a huge amount of money would have been no concern at all, if after completing education they have been returning back to serve their home land, but hardly anybody returns. Among other things, the problem of ‘Brain Drain’ has been largely due to the lack of world class educational pursuits and better professional prospects in the country. It is not only the students who go abroad for higher education, there are large number of professionals also who go abroad for further education and lifelong settlement in the western world. This ‘Brain Drain’ helps the host countries in all respects at the huge socio-economic costs to the countries wherefrom ‘Brain Drain’ takes place.
Since long the ‘Brain Drain’ has been viewed as a problem by the politicians and policy makers, to be tackled for the larger good of the country but without any success at all. The phenomenal economic growth which the country witnessed during the last 10 to 12 years, has also failed even to slow the rate of ‘Brain Drain’. There has been persistent growth in the ‘Brain Drain’ from India across international borders to Canada, America, Australia, European and other countries. The NEP-2020 among other things has emphasised on the ‘Internationalisation of Indian Education’ with twin goals to achieve; one, to make India a hub for international students as well as provide greater mobility to Indian students who may wish to study at, transfer credits to, or carry out research abroad, and vice versa. Towards the attainment of these aspirational goals, the NEP-2020:
- lays emphasis for the universities to offer courses in subjects, like Indology, AYUSH systems of medicine, yoga, arts, etc. to attract international students towards these and other courses.
- aims India to sign mutually beneficial MOUs with foreign countries to facilitate research/teaching collaborations & faculty/student exchanges.
- allows high ranking Indian universities to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, the top 100 global universities will be facilitated to operate in India.
- credits acquired in foreign universities will be permitted as per the requirements of each HEI, and counted for the award of a degree.
To allow and facilitate top 100 global universities to establish campuses in India and also the permission to transfer credits acquired in foreign universities, is believed by many to offer opportunities for world class educational pursuits well within India, thus help to tackle the age old problem of ‘Brain Drain’. Politicians and many academicians have exhibited exuberance and confidence that the steps taken in the NEP- 2020 will not only make India as a hub for international students but will stop Indian students going abroad as the world class educational opportunities will be available right here. Prime Minister while addressing the Governors/ State Governments conference, has said that NEP – 2020 will help to tackle the problem of ‘Brain Drain’ from India, once top 100 global universities will set-up campuses in India, as the students would not need to travel abroad any more. He further lamented that with the entry of top global universities in the country, the competitive culture among HEIs will improve for the greater good of the students. Similar views were expressed by Union Education Minister while addressing 8th convocation ceremony of IIT Indore. While elaborating, he had said that ‘we are going to strengthen parameters under our “Stay in India” campaign for which research will be put on the fast track under NEP-2020. It is not only the government functionaries showing such exuberance but the heads of many academic institutions are highly optimistic about the new policy, helping in arresting the ‘Brain Drain’.
The exuberance shown by the government functionaries and others about the potential of NEP-2020 to make India as a hub of the international students and in putting a break on ‘Brain Drain’ by stopping Indian students to go abroad, realistically speaking it is more in “Rhetoric Than In Reality”. A strong push by the government and the HEIs will help in getting international students but not in large numbers and that too generally from Africa and some South East Asian countries. Why students from all over the world prefer to go to the western world? It is not only in the search of world class education but more for an opportunity to settle in the western world, promising better professional prospects and better quality of life. Such an opportunity will not be available to the foreign students in India, thus will act as an impediment to compete with the western world. The students from the above mentioned countries will come to India for the reasons, one; that the quality of education available in India, is better than in their own countries and more for being very less expensive than the universities in the western world. However, a rigorous admission criterion and more exclusive policies of the state governments, will act as a strong barrier to the entry of foreign students particularly in professional courses.
Allowing top global universities to set-up campuses, in reality will offer an opportunity only to the students belonging to the higher strata of the society for one simple reason that such institutions will charge exorbitant fee which will be beyond the capacity of the students belonging to middle and other lower classes. Besides, it is not yet clear whether the top global universities which will establish campuses here, will have to abide by the reservation policy in vogue in the country. Unless and until, the government makes it mandatory for such universities to abide by the reservation policy in admissions and offer some concession in admission fee to the students belonging to lower strata of society, such a move will not be inclusive rather exclusive, which would be violative of the NEP-2020 which lays greater emphasis on inclusiveness and equity in higher education. To meet this cherished goal of the new policy, such institutions should be made to abide by the reservation policy in admissions. Besides, Govt. of India would need to put in place a financial mechanism to either meet fully or partly the fee of the students belonging to the socially and economically disadvantaged groups of the society.
The million dollar question is “Will the establishment of campuses by the top100 global universities in India put breaks on the ‘Brain Drain’? The answer is most likely No. The fact is that the Indian students are going abroad not only in search for world class education but more importantly for the reason to have a lifelong settlement in the host countries. The dream to settle in those countries is driven by the existence of very rewarding and conducive ecosystem consisting of better career opportunities, better standard of living, better quality of life, higher salaries, access to advanced technology, and universal human values of truth, righteous conduct, scientific temper, citizenship values. Unfortunately all these opportunities of life are largely missing in our country. Otherwise no person with even an average IQ would like to leave their mother land. It is not only that such opportunities are lacking here but one is generally made to face frustrating and inhuman onslaughts in day-to-day life here. No intelligent and sensitive person can bear to live under such stressful conditions thus, happily prefers to leave to have a better and secure future for himself and for his or her future generations abroad. Many professionals in the past tried to return home to serve their own people, but after having made to suffer all sorts of onslaughts, most of them finally returned back with a regret and great disappointment. So expecting that with the establishment of campuses by the top global universities will put breaks on the students moving abroad, would be surely an unrealistic expectation. It is expected that even those who will seek admissions in these universities, most of them would ultimately move out of the country in search of lucrative careers.
Brain drain is surely an important socio-economic problem but India has largely been the causality of much more serious problem, which needs an attention of all of us, which is the “Internal Brain Drain”. It is a fact that all the good brains do not move out, large numbers stays here, who unfortunately are made to suffocate and are generally pushed “Down the Drain”. Unfortunately, almost all institutions whether, political, social, cultural, educational, economic etc. which provide direction for development, have degenerated into monumental incompetence and malpractices. India is still in the category of most corrupt countries of the world. The Annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI), put out by Transparency International in 2019, out of 180 countries, India has been ranked at the 80th position. There is no denying the fact that the country suffers from all sorts of inefficiencies, misplaced priorities and malpractices like widespread nepotism, favouritism and corruption, the causality of all this cancerous situation in the country have been the meritorious and honest people. People working in different organisations are not paid for performance but for longevity and conventionality. More unfortunate is that the people are generally elevated to higher or leadership positions not because of their merit, achievements and integrity & honesty but for their affiliations and connections with those who are sitting in the power corridors. The height of the things in the country is that the institutions like universities which were considered temples of intellectualism, honesty, fair play, justice and equity have been polluted to an extent that the merit, performance and personal integrity have been made to go down the drain by most of the Institutional Heads who are generally appointed purely due to their political connections rather than being distinguished persons with impeccable track record of integrity and performance. Meritorious and honest people are generally pushed to the margin and there seems to be the sanction from the power corridors to violate rules and regulations with impunity. In such a scenario, if Hargobind Khorana, Subramanya Chandersekhar, Amartya Sen and Abhijit Banerjee would not have decided to move out of the country, they would not have won the Nobel Prizes while staying in India. If the country has to prosper and grow, the only thing that needs to be done is to “Wage A War” without any discrimination against the malpractices of nepotism, favouritism and corruption which are rampant particularly in our state.
Author is Former Registrar & Currently, Professor in the Dept. of Commerce University of Kashmir.)