India may get lesson from China’s plans to curtail brain drain

Screenshot_1The government of China has taken an initiative to get back some of the country’s best and brightest minds. The brain drain problem was taking away top scientific talent of the country.
The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) co-ordination groups stated that 87% of top specialists in science and engineering who went overseas had no plans to return.

Steps taken by the Coordination Groups of China to curb brain drain:
  • In 2010, the government launched a 10-year development plan to bring back 2,000 top Chinese specialists in the fields ofinformation technology, aerospace and biotechnology.
  • The Ministry of Education has also set up a 600-million-Yuan fund for 20,000 returnees to carry out research in the sciences.
  • The State run Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), a top research body, has put in place a programme offering two million Yuan to returnees for research. The CAS succeeded in bringing back 1,568 scientists in the ten years.
  • The government has also started reaching out to younger overseas Chinese students. It has launched summer camps funding as many as 30,000 Chinese residing in 55 countries to travel to China every year in an attempt to make them more familiar with their society.
  • These measures taken by China may hold some lesson for India who is facing the same challenge of brain drain. As per UNDP estimates,India loses $2 billion a year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S. Indian students going abroad for their higher studies costs India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually.
What is Brain drain?

Brain drain (or human capital flight), is the large-scale emigration of a large group of individuals with technical skills or knowledge. Although the term originally referred to technology workers leaving a nation, the meaning has broadened into: “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another, usually for better pay or living conditions”.

What is the background of “brain drain”?

The term brain drain was coined by the Royal Society to describe the emigration of “scientists and technologists” to North America from post-war Europe. Some findings also indicate that this term was first used in the United Kingdom to describe the influx of Indian scientist and engineers. The converse phenomenon of brain drain is ‘brain gain’ which happens to the country of destination of these emigrants.

What are the reasons behind brain drain?
  • The reasons usually include two aspects which respectively come from countries and individuals.
  • In terms of countries, the reasons may be social environment (in source countries: lack of opportunities, political instability or oppression, economic depression, health risks, etc.; in host countries: rich opportunities, political stability and freedom, developed economy, better living conditions, etc.).
  • In terms of individual reasons, there are family influences (overseas relatives), and personal preference: preference for exploring, ambition for an improved career, etc.
What is the impact of brain drain?
  • Brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost, since emigrants usually take with them the fraction of value of their training sponsored by the government or other organizations.
  • It is a parallel of capital flight, which refers to the same movement of financial capital.



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