1. What is common parameter in these names? Amrapali, Arvind Krishna, Leena Nair, Sanjay Mehrotra, Satya Nadella, Shantanu Narayen and Sunder Pichai. They are Indians heading multi national companies in USA and/or international organizations of repute. They were born brought up and studied in India. Due to lack of opportunities, non availability of world class laboratories for R&D, bureaucratic impediments and non recognition of their talent, they decided to move out of India.
2. What is one common denominator in all these multi-national companies? Adobe, Albertsons, Alto, Arista, Chanel, Fedex, Google, IBM, Mastercard, Micron, Microsoft, Nokia, Novartis, Palo, Pepsi, Starbucks, Twitter. All of these had/have an Indian head.”
Above stated names of brilliant Indians is not even the tip of iceberg of Indian talent promoting US and western nations growth in high end technology. Current US president was on TV stating that nearly 40% of his staff, Vice President downwards, comprises of Indians or Americans of Indian origin. As far back as early sixties it was a common knowledge that IITs are ‘factories’ producing top quality engineers for ‘US Consumption’. 36% of top engineers/scientists in NASA are Indians. NASA’s ambitious MARS ROVER programme is headed by an Indian Air Force officer’s daughter. List is endless.
Is it a matter of pride or disdain that Indians educated in India opt to move over to west in search of greener pastures, not only financially but professionally as well? Stark reality is that answers to both is ‘YES’. No government till date has been able to address this issue seriously. Giving clarion call during Independence and Republic day speeches is of no significance.
I will move over from discussing professional/financial issue to a more human issue; the social and family issue. Among close acquaintances we know at least 100 families, whose children are settled abroad. Recent catastrophic scourge of COVID 19 highlighted the issue of absence of children. Two family friends perished due to the virus but children could not reach. Even their last rites were performed under hospital supervision in Lucknow.
Indian Parents used to swoon, some still do, over their off springs migrating and working in the western nations, USA in particular. Most of them believed, most still do, that Indian system is not only corrupt but is devoid of providing global standard facilities viz universities, advanced laboratories for research and most importantly opportunities.
Although if examined in a rational manner, India did establish world class, perhaps better, educational facilities as early as in early sixties. Five Indian Institutes of Technology at Bombay, Calcutta, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Madras were, and still are, world class institutions. Hence complaints of Indian parents about unavailability of world class institutions falls flat on its face. However their grouse that ‘RED TAPE’ does not allow growth of non-conformist is true.
Ironic but true, western world recovering from 2nd world war disaster was quick to realize the potential of erstwhile British colony, India. USA took the lead. As early as early sixties, US companies invited young Indian ‘BRAIN’ with little or no experience in international arena, who were blinded by the shine of ‘GREENBAGS’, the US Dollar. More than the children, it is the parents, who were extremely proud of their off springs migrating to west and earning six figure salary, which is currently in eight figures. USA can be truly called ‘The Global Brain thief’.
Indian administrators failed to see and understand the long term consequences of uncontrolled ‘BRAIN DRAIN’ and did not adopt any measure to stem the tide. India remained a nation of snake charmers but for few individuals viz Homi Bhabha, APJ Abdul Kalam, Vikram Sarabhai and few others.
Successive Central Governments, including present one, have failed to consider establishing world class laboratories and educational institutions, which will compare with the best in the world and enable our young minds to carry out research and development. Till date there is no dedicated allocation for R&D. Lack of opportunities combined with the bureaucratic mindset has been the primary cause of our children moving out of India.
A youngster and/or her/his guardians consider various factors before taking the leap out of India. Prominent factors are Market Potential of a country, Opportunities for independent work in chosen field, quality of exposure, technological facilities viz labs etc and absence of red tape to name a few. For instance while the world is looking at space as the next frontier but we do not have a single world class observatory, our manned space programme is still grounded, total absence of microchip industry; list is endless.
Long queues for H1B Visa tells the story. Floodgates have not closed even now. No Indian, who went to USA or other western nation wants to return to India. They have valid reasons for their reluctance to return to their motherland.
In foreseeable future attractive ‘Golden Handcuffs’ provided by the western world nations led by USA will continue to occupy numero uno position as professional/educational jewellery of brilliant young Indian brains because nation has failed to provide them the facilities and opportunities for growth.
India will remain a ‘developing nation’ unless we stop the Brain Drain and do away with diabolical provision of Reservation. This is in spite of the stark reality that India is blessed with three most important favourable parameters for growth viz Political Stability, Huge Market and Cheap Labour.
We must view the contribution of Chinese of Silicon Valley towards development of China as a super power. For instance their contribution to development of China’s space programme is an outstanding example of their loyalty to their parent nation. Alas! Indians have made little or no contribution. But they cannot be singled out for such attitude/approach. Indian bureaucracy and ‘red tape’ are equally responsible for such state of affairs.
But ‘The Global Brain Thief’, the USA and its western allies will continue to induce brilliant Indians with their ‘Golden Handcuffs’, who will continue to fall prey to attraction of Greenbags. In the prevailing global instability situation India’s emergence as a global super power will not be welcome, not only by its adversaries but also ‘circumstantial’ friends. Growth of Military Power and Technological ascendency are two sides of same coin.
‘Golden Handcuffs’ have an extremely serious military implication for future. Equipment wise Indian Military is in regressive mode. Ill equipped brave soldiers will not be able to meet the challenges of huge technologically advantaged adversaries.
Introspection at national level is needed urgently. Merely words and promises will not work. Trend reversal will take place only and only if we provide unfettered opportunities and invest in R&D.
About the Author
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'. He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security'. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)