Brain Drain. Boon for other countries yet bane for India?

Pre-University Paper, 2019

16 Pages, Grade: 15



1.1 Definition of Brain Drain

- Procedure

2.Main part:
2.1 History – Brain Drain
2.2 Destination country: America
2.3 Push and Pull factors
2.4 Student Category & Non-immigrants

3.1 Brain Gain? - influence on the country
3.2 Prime Minister Modi´s perspective
3.3 Preventing measures by India
3.4 Reference Topic – Assumptions


1.1 What is Brain Drain?

“Your fingers created magic on the keyboard and the computer and this gave India a new identity. Your skill and commitment is wonderful”1 -Narendra Modi

Brain drain is an international migration of educated and skilled professionals from developing countries to developed countries for a better way of living by obtaining various job opportunities, high income, gaining success in host society and better political conditions in comparison to the origin country. India is one of the Asian countries, which has been losing its major skilled labour or human capital that includes doctors, engineers, information technology professionals, scientists, and technicians. Besides this, this transfer of technology likewise involves illegal immigrants and the presence of students in a foreign country to pursue their dream of commercial gains. This term, which occurred in the 1950s2 during the exodus of several skilled workforces particularly scientists to the United States from nations, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, is also known as “loss of skilled intellectual” or “ migration of talent”3. The immigrants from India ordinarily migrate to the West, arriving in destination industrialized countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Canada, South Africa, Germany, and Australia4. However, the United States is the most recognized destination by Indian immigrates, especially for students wanting to study abroad. According to a research, the number of Indian students studying in the United States increased by 5.4% in the year 2018 over the last year to approximately 196,2715.

Even now Brain drain, a phenomenon, is an enormous concern for less developed countries like India, as it loses its qualified or well-educated population, which is the reason why this term is vastly negative connotated. Hence, there are similarly several impacts on the source country with reference to its economic status, for example, the loss of money a nation invests for the education of each individual.6 On the other hand, brain drain can as well be considered as a positive phenomenon due to remittance income7 for developing countries turning migrants into one of the chief exports of their homeland. Another benefit provided by this is the return migration, which takes place when emigrants move back from their host country to their source countries. Having considered the positive effects of brain drain, the term ´brain gain` appears, also defined as ´reverse brain drain` with the transfer of knowledge from an advanced country to a less progressed country. The main reason for the emigration of skilled workers is the dissatisfaction in the source country of the emigrants caused by unemployment, corruption, high admission fees for studies- also called ´push factors`, whereas the factors in the host country, which attracts the skilled labours are known as ´pull factors`- the roots of the phenomena.8

In this occurrence, the role of the nation of the sending country plays a vital role, as it comes to take action against international migration by inventing preventing measures in order to avoid brain drain. These brain gain strategies may include investments in research and development by building laboratory or institutions for specialized workers to experiment and have the best conditions they require to work appropriately. Moreover, high wages and immigration restrictions would not force skilled labours to leave their native countries to seek a livelihood.9 To this issue, India`s current Prime minister Narendra Modi claims to support for the development of scientific institutions for the progress of scientific activities and initiatives. In addition to that, he appears to encourage the youth in India by appreciating and valuing their knowledge and having a strong approach towards brain gain.10

In my opinion, this controversial issue of brain drain is significant to deliberate, since it is assumed that brain drain only results in a loss for the sending countries in terms of economic and human resources, overlooking the positive outcomes of international emigration. Therefore, this concern should be examined from a new perspective in order to analyze the first-, second- and third-generation effects of this phenomenon. In the following, all the above-mentioned aspects will be analyzed in detail: First of all, the attention will be driven to the history of brain drain in India and the relationship of the United States with India referred to migration, containing several statistics since India`s independence in 1947. Furthermore, the destination countries of the emigrants will be listed in order to have an overview of the most visited host countries by Indians, whereas the United States being on the first place with most qualified Indian workers and talented students will be categorically accentuated. To identify the obstruction, one needs to scrutinize the roots of this problematic by remarking the push and pull factors, which are additionally going to be acquired in further part of my essay. This procedure will be followed by the matter of the movement of students and illegal emigrants with analysis of statistics. In conclusion, the influence on the country will follow, considering the benefits of brain drain (=brain gain) as well as the losses, which are faced by origin countries. The current situation in India is essential to be observed, which is why the perspective of the current Prime minister of India will finally be underlined. Apart from this, the prevention measures against brain drain will be enumerated in comparison to the actions taken by India. After perceiving all these aspects, I will finally refer to the given interrogation, whether this brain drain matter is a benefit or an advantage for other (host-) countries and disadvantage for India by summarizing the central arguments and which step an individual may take to avoid the actual situation.

2.1 the history of Brain drain

After India`s independence in the year 1947, the exodus of workforces increased intensely, thus one differentiates between three periods of Indian immigrants: The colonial era; The postcolonial times and the out-migration. At the beginning, which is in the colonial period (1858-1947), the first movement of labour Indian workers in order to acquire a job and seek livelihood initiated. This migration led the emigrants to destination countries like Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Burma and other parts of the British territories, also baptized as ´not-so-distant lands`. Simultaneously, further settlers arrived in distant host countries, for example, Guyana, Jamaica, and Fiji. Moreover, the continuing upsurge of the expatriates took place in the postcolonial times due to commercial gains. Another significant reason for this transfer of settlers was the necessity of employees in the Gulf region, which augmented the requirement of the so-called “short-term immigrants”11 since 1970 in the receiving countries of the Gulf, West Asia, and North Africa. This resulted in the loss of educated employees, exclusively in the southern state of Kerala, containing 70% of the semi-skilled and unskilled Indian population and approximately 20% to 30% of skilled professionals.

Besides this, the last stage of the Indian migration in the historical context indicated “out-migration”12, which defines the global movement of talented and qualified labours: doctors, engineers, architects, chartered accountants, bankers, IT professionals, involving knowledge students, to the West namely to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom. Principally, the exodus of these workforces to North America instigated between the years 1950 to 1960. On the contrary, the numbers of expatriates to Canada and the United Kingdom escalated during the1970s and 1980s, although the United Kingdom as a host country reached its highest number of new settlers in the year 1960, however, this procedure shrink in the 1970s, which later lead to the reduction of newcomers by reaching its lowest point in the year 1980. Apart from this, in the history of brain drain with India as a sending country, the year 1965 with the Immigration Act instigated an invasion of well-educated professionals and students as this made it easier for them to enter an advanced country with a foreign educational system, precisely said American and British educational system or generally education with English medium institutions. Hence, since 1990, a critical phase of globalization, the upswing of the total amount of emigrants went to 2.5% to 5.0% in the year 2000 and lastly 7.5% in 2005. Since then, India converted itself into one of the topmost sending countries, thus migration from India to industrialized nations developed gradually since the year 1950. Along with that the year 1990 plays a principal role in the history due to the new destinations, for example, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia, discovered by several Indian employees, which are preferred to especially work in the field of information technology.13

2.2 DEstination countrY: America

Throughout the history of brain drain in India as a source country, the destination countries of the Indian settlers vary in terms of probabilities approached by specific host countries. The topmost destinations of Indian brains include corners, such as the United States, Arabian Gulf (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar), European Union (especially Germany), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia14. Considering the emigration of India by Country of Destination in the years 1964 to 1990, it can be distinguished that the United Kingdom, in the year 1964, was the most recognized country by the Indians with a population of 13,000 people in comparison to Canada with 1,154 and the United States with about 634 people. Only until 1965, the intensification of the population of Indian migrants in the United Kingdom took place, as the coming years the emigrants diminished with only 5,040 expatriates in the year 1990, nevertheless, Canada and the United States ascended as host countries. However, in the year 2009, 21.7% of the non-white population in England and Wales is occupied by Indians.15 Canada, certainly, took a rise gradually by reaching 10,662 until the 1990s. In the 1970s the number of immigrants in the United States increased massively from hundreds to approximately 19,00016, where the Indian diaspora acquired the highest per capita income than any other nationalities17. Moreover, being the wealthiest and most educated Indians, these 300 Indian American capitalists possess many enterprises with a personal income of $5 million in the tertiary sector18.

Undeniably, the motive for this phenomenon was the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was implemented in the year 1965, where trained and edified were welcomed and appreciated in the United States19, converting this nation into the most acknowledged destination of the Indian diaspora. In the United States, as the dominant host country, India positioned the sixth place alluding to the birth of immigrants in the year 1993 with about 40,000 arrivals20. These arrivals (including homemakers, unemployed, engineers) chiefly settled in the Californian city San Jose containing 7.4%, Chicago comprising 3.5%, Houston with 5.3% Indians and New York city Flushing covering 6.5%21. Since the United States simply desired professional personnel from India, a restriction law in the year 1917 came into force, a literacy test, sanctioning or preferring only the qualified employers from India as a measure to discontinue the enormous number of illiterate Asians . 22 As an outcome, one can determine that the United States’ immigration policies have modified during the history of the migration of Asian labours and professional workers.

A historical overview of the Indian immigration in the United States during the years 1997 to 2006 is represented by the figure 3.223, which indicates that the number of immigrants in the year 1997 was approximately 40,000, whereas the total amount of migrants in the year 2000 was about 42,000. Above all, this bar diagram also illustrates the transformation of the expatriates from 2000 to 2001, where the numbers increased to 70,032. One can observe that the highest number of immigrants in the United States was in the year 2005 with more 85,000. The Indian migration to the United States augmented histrionically since India`s Independence in 1947, however, the first official entry of the Indian immigrants was previously discerned in the year 1820, precipitating skills to the United States.24 Due to the progress of Indo-Americans or migration, the relationship of the two nations, India as the sending country and the United States as the receiving country, has ensued, hence, the Indian diaspora in the United States is now almost 2.3 million. Therefore, a further outcome of this association is that the United States is India`s major merchandizing collaborator, whereas India is one of the main United States’ investment country for transnational corporations, despite the fact that both nations differentiate in terms of ideologies, policies, and economics.25 As a result, this led to the appearance of politically engaged and well-earning Indian Americans in huge amount.26

Another element in favor of the United States, which necessaries to be considered is this nation as a “melting pot of the world” and “nation of immigrants”27 due to the number of migrants entering the country, becoming a central destination. The global inhabitants in this nation of immigrants bring benefits to the U.S. market in the amount of $7 billion and are, therefore, also defined as “human capital”28. Not only this but also half of the doctoral degree is possessed by foreigners transferring knowledge in the United States. Thus, this conscription of employed legal permanent residents, especially Asian in the technologies, had turned into a tendency in the United States` immigration, which makes the future of this immigration unpredictable. According to an immigration statistic in 2006, it is certified that 50% of the legal permanent residents obtaining employment are from Asia.29 Concerning the number of temporary specialty workers in the United States, India is the uppermost country in the top ten countries with about 125,700 occupiers in H-1B beneficiaries.30 Above all, 36% of the scientists in NASA are Indians, the chief executive officer of Google is Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Microsoft is Satya Nadella and the CEO of PepsiCo is Indra Nooyi- all Indians in the United States.31

2.4 Push and pull factors

To assess this phenomenon, it is vital to distinguish the pull from the push factors and scrutinize the main cause of the problematic by retorting to the query: why do the Indian proficient specialists leave their native country to study and work abroad. Primarily, taking the education system in India into account, one can irrefutably clarify that the education scenario in India is too high, on the one hand, because of the cut-offs32, which is ordinarily awaited from several colleges or universities. On the other hand, if an individual desire to study in a certain college, one must bestow a huge amount of ´donation`33 to get an admission. As education plays an imperative role in this brain drain phenomena, edified youths get enticed to foreign countries because of the facilities they are provided with, such as better equipment and infrastructure for research to employ their practiced skills.34 Additionally, the environment and the surrounding can be deemed as a push factor since India is a nation with inconveniences regarding traffic, pollution and public transportations. The metropolitan cities are overcrowded, which is why public transport seems to be inadequate and lastly leads to traffic and pollution. The milieu is similarly affected by the garbage disposal on the streets, causing serious health risks.35

Correspondingly, the population of India, which is about 1.3 billion, is an enormous issue when it comes to unemployment because millions of engineers graduate each year, however, unfortunately only a few of them get an opportunity as it is arduous to grant an occupation to each trained individual. Among the millions, only 40% obtain a job, whereas the rest 60% endure as unemployed having no supplementary opportunity than shifting abroad. Since the deficiency of occupation is so high, the admission fee, which is as well extraordinarily high, cannot be afforded by the vast middle class in India.36 Above all, corruption is the central cause for brain drain in India, its progress is restricted due to donation for admissions and bribery. A profession is likewise attainable with a recommendation from a higher officer or by offering sufficient money because of preference. Due to this political instability many, therefore, conclude that the rich become richer and poor become poorer37 since the talents are not appreciated, as they are in a host country by not having a platform to practice their skills. Another major root of this concern is poverty and crime in the source country, consequently, less security due to thefts, murders, rapes, cybercrimes, frauds and kidnaps for a living.38


1 See Express Web Desk, 2015, internet source: (last accessed 21.02.2019)

2 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 111

3 Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 21

4 See Priyanka Nagrale, internet source: (last accessed 21.02.2019)

5 See Times of India, internet source: (last accessed 21.02.2019)

6 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 123

7 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 25

8 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 83

9 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page numbers 36-39

10 See introductory quote, page number 3 (This document)

11 Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 71

12 Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 72

13 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page numbers 71-74

14 See Priyanka Nagrale, internet source: (last accessed 21.02.2019)

15 See Schöningh Westermann, Pathway Advanced (English book) page number 98

16 See Binod Khadria, 1999, page number 62

17 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 11

18 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 76

19 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 113

20 See Binod Khadria, 1999, page number 40

21 See Binod Khadria, 1999, page number 52

22 See Binod Khadria, 1999, page number 56

23 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 74

24 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 75

25 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 58

26 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 11

27 Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 83

28 Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 113

29 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 97

30 See Anjali Sahay, 2009, page number 104

31 See Caleb, internet source: (last accessed 01.03.2019)

32 Specific percentage/grades required for an admission.

33 A certain amount of money demanded by an institution for an admission with the name of so-called “donation”.

34 See 2015, internet source: (last accessed 01.03.2019)

35 See Rishabh Dev, 2017, internet source: (last accessed 01.03.2019)

36 See Caleb, internet source: (last accessed 01.03.2019)

37 See Caleb, internet source: (last accessed 01.03. 2019)

38 See Rishabh Dev, 2017, internet source: (last accessed 01.03.2019)

Excerpt out of 16 pages


Brain Drain. Boon for other countries yet bane for India?
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
India, Brain drain, work and education, Indian youth opportunities, Brain gain, brain drain in India, push and pull factors, consequences brain drain
Quote paper
Humaira Vohra (Author), 2019, Brain Drain. Boon for other countries yet bane for India?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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