Macro Moves

Why is India facing a Massive Brain-Drain

Created on 20 Jun 2022

Wraps up in 5 Min

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Updated on 12 Sep 2023

Why is India facing a Massive Brain-Drain

Padhega India, tabhi to badhega India Amrikka and Canadda!

We have seen many Indian-origin CEOs in several multinational billion-dollar companies, and we feel proud as an Indian about that. But do you think that this is good for India? Let’s give it a thought!

Since 2017, more than 6 lakh Indians renounced their citizenship and became residents of foreign countries. And In 2021 itself, around 1.11 lakh Indians gave up their citizenship. Not only this, according to a report by Morgan Stanley, 23k Indian Millionaires left India between the period of 2014 and 2018. This list is endless. We are trying to say that India has been facing a massive Brain Drain for many years.

Our top minds, millionaires, entrepreneurs, and job creators are continuously giving up their citizenship, and this number is increasing daily. These people are the change-makers; they contribute the most to our economy, and despite all this, are we not doing enough to make them stay in their home country?

The Brain-Drain Issue

In the last seven years, around 35k entrepreneurs left India; recently, many top crypto startups and unicorns also relocated. Zebpay and Vauld moved to Singapore in 2018. In 2019, CoinDCX registered a Singapore entity as well, and very recently, WazirX and Polygon Network moved to Dubai. 

So, what is the solution to all this? What can our government do to control this massive Brain Drain? Let’s talk about some history first!

The term Brain Drain was coined in 1963 by the British Royal Society during World War 2 when British scientists were migrating to the USA. But in India, the Brain Drain started in the 1970s, when a lot of Indians graduated from elite public institutions only to find out that there were no good and financially rewarding opportunities available.

This was the post-colonial era when India’s economy was in its worst condition, it needed skilled people, but at the same time, it couldn’t provide for them. So, many Indian graduates decided to move to the USA and other countries looking for better opportunities, and they later became top executives and CEOs of the top MNCs.

Did any of them come back? Mostly no, but in the 1990s, when liberalisation happened and the dot com bubble burst, a few of them returned to India, which benefited the country for a certain period as well but then the Brain Drain continued to rise.

There are precisely two factors that cause Brain Drain; Push and Pull. 

Push factors are the issues that India has because of which people don’t want to live in India, and Pull factors are the benefits that Indians get when they move abroad.

India has a lot of push factors like complex processes for setting up a business, higher taxes, lower quality of life, poor healthcare system, outdated education system, etc. 

According to an employability survey by Aspiring Minds, 95% of the engineers who graduate in India are unfit for software development roles. Tech Mahindra’s MD also states that 94% of the IT graduates in India are not fit for hiring.

Pull factors include better investment opportunities, wealth preservation, a better lifestyle, a safer society, gender equality, and a better ecosystem for businesses and startups. 

The Crypto Brain Drain

In the field of crypto, countries like Dubai and Singapore have grabbed the opportunity and made laws that are beneficial for crypto and attract crypto entrepreneurs. In contrast, India kept their top crypto minds in an uncertain situation by not defining any rules around it for a long time and then putting high taxes on it. An anonymous crypto entrepreneur even told money control, "If given a choice, we would not have moved out. So, if the regulation is in favour of the industry, we will always build for India”. 

According to a report by Nasscom and WazirX, there will be more than 8 lakh jobs in the crypto space by 2030. So, if we do not support our entrepreneurs, these jobs will also get lost.

We provide scholarships to our students for foreign studies so that they can help India grow when they come back. But because of better opportunities and better support, they never return to India and start working in their host countries. According to a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, hundreds of thousands of Indian students studying abroad cost India as much as $17 Billion a year in lost revenues.

The Solution

Firstly, start celebrating Indian entrepreneurs/job creators more than an Indian getting a top-level executive job in another country. Make laws, taxes, and business processes more accessible for them. Set up funds for them. States can also allocate/raise funds for their entrepreneurs, so that, if needed, businesses can easily get funding from their people because when international banks or private firms or venture capital firms invest money, they buy out the business as well as the entrepreneur which leads to Brain Drain.

Take Inspiration from the defence. Making your technology is essential. Our defence knows this the best because we can’t keep buying expensive tech from other countries. Eventually, we need to set up our own tech.

Allow students of colleges and universities to grow, innovate, and build in a well-designed conducive environment. Focus more on their skill development rather than on their degree. Create job opportunities for highly skilled professionals, so that when they graduate they stay and work in India instead of leaving.

Allocate more funds for research. India only allocates 0.7% of its GDP for research, which is extremely low compared to other countries. India should set up significant challenges, gather a team of experts, researchers, and entrepreneurs for the same, and then fund and support them completely until they achieve the targets. The Indian government can also ask the highly skilled Indians working in other countries to come back and work on whatever they know the best for the betterment of India and fund them.

The Indian Government has set up some programs to encourage Indian scientists and engineers like The Ramanujan Fellowship, The RamaLingaSwami Fellowship, etc, but that’s not enough. We need to do a lot more, and we need to spread more awareness about such programs.

The Bottom Line 

India is a fast developing nation, we are growing at an excellent speed, but if we want to become the world leader, we need to stop this massive Brain Drain and celebrate our best minds. They are our real wealth; if we lose them, then India will be like a high-speed race car with no driver to drive.

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Akshatraj Gupta

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Akshat is a generalist who loves to learn, travel, meditate, and build things.

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