You off to your patriotism!’ Another question

You are asked would you like to go to country X?

Would you stay back out of a sense of patriotism, and prefer to work as a clerk in a dingy office, and come back tired in the evenings, and steal a few minutes with your flute before you hit the sack? Or would you rather go to country X and flower as a musician?

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You make the latter choice and people scream, ‘Brain Drain!’ You decide not to go, but no one pats you on the back to say, ‘Hats off to your patriotism!’

Another question is, ‘Does the world gain more by your staying back in India or by your going to the West?’

Even here the answer is not as simple as you may think: your evolution into a musician of a high order is a boon to the world of music in general, of which India is a part; at the same time, as brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost, your departure is an example of human capital flight unless you bring or send back money in foreign currency and add to the country’s funds.

Perhaps this is an atypical example. Perhaps, more typically, software engineers, IT professionals and medical doctors who can do reasonably (and more than reasonably) well here in India migrate to the USA, Europe or elsewhere in search of even greener pastures. Similarly, from the early 1960s, a significant number of IIT graduates have opted to leave India. The sense of loss in the country has been so great that, addressing a joint sitting of the Parliament, our former President APJ Abdul Kalam appealed to overseas Indians to take a more active role in India’s development.

An accusing finger has sometimes been pointed at our education system which, it has been alleged, largely promotes selfish, materialistic values rather than fostering a feeling of national pride and a spirit of service to others.

Recently, there has been some talk of India emerging as an economic superpower within the next few decades. If and when that materialises, brain drain from India will automatically come to an end. Perhaps it will even be replaced by brain gain!