Leaning back in her chair for a short recess during study hours, a young Indian girl has her mind vividly contemplating a myriad of things. The smile on her face suggests that some of these things enchant her. She imagines herself living in the bustling city of New York, sitting in a tiny room of her own that she doesn’t have to share with anyone, wearing pretty little skirts that one wouldn’t judge her for and bringing friends home at any time of the hour. She reads a book at Central Park, calmness and cleanliness surround her all the time and the smartest people of Silicon Valley are her closest friends.
The great American dream engulfs this young girl like never before. Each time some cousin of hers called from the US, she used to come running. She spoke for hours with them, asking them about life there, hoping against hope that someday, she would be on the other side of the conversation.
Time does fly and very soon all dreams materialized. A leading company in the United States hired her. She bid adieu to her hometown set off on a journey that was filled with hopes, optimism and happiness. After all, she was going exactly where she wanted to be. With the realization of each reverie, years passed.
It was all great until she began to feel that silence. Every day, on reaching home to her tiny room in the bustling city, she used to feel the void. She could no longer imagine the sounds of her hometown. Oddly, she missed being perturbed. There was money, yet not enough for domestic help, rent in an upstate house or frequent Indian food. Some days were insanely cold. The days she was sick, were the worst. She had to commute for hours to reach work and despite having numerous friends, most of them desi, she felt inadequate. The only thing that kept her happy was her job. All of a sudden, she seemed to find her heart misplaced. She was quite aghast with her revelation. The neighbourhood she loathed the most, with untidy roads and noisy people, where she had to share her room with three other cousins, seemed to appeal to her soul. Something kept telling her that her calling was in the land, three thousand miles away. She felt that someday, she had to return back, home. Several years passed. With a husband and a child, her tiny room vanished and she could lead a decent life. But somehow, she never returned home. There are days when she stares out of the window and wonders how life would have been, had she gone back. Deep inside, her regret was aplenty.
It is often stated that the grass is always greener on the other side. Well, for most Indians, it is often the American side. Year after year, the fact remains that millions of highly qualified Indians, who could potentially be a great asset leave the country in search of better opportunities and lifestyle. For a group of them, being located in a particular country elsewhere has become a mark of status symbol. The ultimate prey to this alarming rate of brain drain has been the country and its finances.
India is often blamed for its inability to provide equal opportunities. People who leave the country state reservation in higher education, red-tapism, corruption, lack of quality services and opportunities as the main reason. The inability of the service sector to absorb too many people has also rendered countless as overqualified. A majority of them want to return at some point in their lives but have never been able to; due to commitments, job security and fear of losing their ‘higher standard’ comfortable lives. However, the correlation between their standard of lives and happiness is often mismatched. Faced with issues like racism, lack of career for the spouse due to non affordability of house help, inability to climb above the C-Suite level in corporate with the immigrant status, inability to reconcile with children imbibing more foreign values, some Indians feel the inherent need to return to familiar surroundings, where they could relate to and fit in, the most. Over the course of time, it becomes too late and after a point, the possibility of a return becomes unviable. The country too, does not have the prowess to absorb into its various sectors, the people who may return. The existing job providers are already overwhelmed by the expanding population. With more people permanently settling down abroad, the country’s earnings by way of remittances are also taking a hit.
It is agreed that we have taken a monotonous solemn tone and may have to see the brighter side to acquire some hope. Reversal of brain drain is one of the requirements for fixing a multitude of problems in the country. The government by way of creating certain allowances in the field of research has enhanced the prospects for PhD aspiring students to return back. New start ups and entrepreneurial ventures are a huge boon in today’s economy. Though new ventures do not provide the required level of job security, governmental measures to enhance loans to investors has been rather motivating. There have also been mandates by the government to the medical students pursuing their education abroad to return to the country for a specific time period, on completion of their courses abroad. The PM scholarship scheme was also introduced, keeping this issue in mind. But despite such efforts, countless number of highly talented and qualified people still leave the country every year.
George Washington once said that we should guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. Patriotism is voluntary and it is not adequate to encourage a human to stay back and contribute for their country. Some people leave, some return and some lose their sense of belonging to their homelands altogether. Everyone has the need to fulfill their quest for an enhanced life, seize a greater opportunity. But there are few men who create opportunities. These are the men the country needs in plentiful numbers today. They may be entrepreneurs, politicians or simply those citizens who are inclined to innovate and bring about a change in the system. Though realistically and feasibly, parting seems to be the right decision to take for most citizens, the greatest hope for this country is that, the ones who are determined to stay back, follow their ambitions and believe that destiny is what they make of their own, will soon be a dynamic force who will entice the nation and make it self sufficient, flamboyant and truly independent!