While chatting with a friend who was debating whether or not he should pursue his Ph.D. degree (or any higher studies, for that matter) in India, the topic turned to the changing conditions in India (or more appropriately, the change in observable behaviour of Indians – since I don’t presume to know all conditions in India).
Much is made in newspaper articles, media, and in social circles about the alleged reverse brain drain. I say alleged, simply because I don’t want this article biased in either way – I do have an opinion about the brain drain situation, but that’s for another day and another time. Here we shall simply assume that there does exist such a thing as a reverse brain drain (without debating its veracity – or definition for that matter).
You might have noticed a steadily increasing trend in media reporting two major themes:
- Prominent/Successful people of Indian origin returning to settle down in India after having achieved fame/success abroad.
- The young generation of Indians not leaving India after getting prominent degrees, as used to be the “hip thing” back in the 80′s.
What bothers me most is the complete disregard shown to those who really caused about this change. Surely the change is in India that makes people want to come back or remain here; which is far more likely than America or Europe having become an unsuitable place to live in (last I heard, India has gained shopping malls and multiplexes, rather than Europe or America losing them). Correct me if I am mistaken, but in my personal opinion, this change was brought about not by those who are coming back today, but by those who never left 30 years ago!
Someone had to live in this country when the cream of our country was leaving with much fanfare and praise. Someone had to improve the conditions. Someone had to build multiplexes and malls. Someone had to build airconditioned seven-star hotels. Someone had to build the 1 lakh car that many (if not most) Indians will afford. Every year, media praisee those from the premier (and in many cases, tax-payer-funded) institutions of the country hired abroad. We conveniently ignore to report on those who stayed back and brought about a change here – in this country – to make it suitable for our elite to come back and live in.
Where is the praise to them? What have we done to encourage them? When we write an article praising youngsters studying in India for higher education, why can’t we spare one line to say, “thanks to the heroes who toiled for 30 years to make India a great place to live in…”? When we comment on the great people returning, why can’t we add the line, “thanks to the people who worked through hardships to bring multiplexes, and malls and air-conditioned homes, and water and electricity and flyovers to our cities…”?
So far as I have seen, I don’t know many (if not any) who returned from the US to live in a village or even a non-metro (although I do know Americans staying in villages for volunteer work.) Let’s face it, they didn’t come back for travelling in public transportation and to have only one hour of tap water every day.
For some reason, our culture loves redemption stories; always has. We completely ignore people who are just doing good work – I don’t say that we criticise them, we simply just don’t care. However, take a guy who goes on the wrong path initially and years later chooses to turn towards the rigth path? We love him! We praise him! He’s like a God to us. Lest we forget that wrong path and right path are completely subjective to begin with.
I think it’s time we did justice to all that “traditions” and “philosophy” and “family” and “loyalty” crap we like to boast in front of westerners. Let’s stop speaking and show it for once! Let’s see some respect for those who made this a great place to live in. Someone brought about this change in India – it wasn’t just physical – it was also psychological. Someone stayed here and worked hard to change the attitude of people.
I think we can all spare at least one newspaper article, or even a small one-liner when discussing reverse-brain-drain amongst peers, in praise of the heroes who made it all happen!