Friday, March 06, 2009

Return of the prodigal

Over a 100,000 Indians will return from the US in the next 3-5 years, ET reports. The estimate comes from a study done by multi-university team headed by an Indian, Vivek Wadhwa.

With India Shining until recently, the urge to migrate had weakened somewhat. The downturn in the US will weaken it further and enhance the domestic pool of talent with returnees.

"With the economic downturn, my guess is that we'll have over 100,000 Indians and as many Chinese return home over the next three-five years," says Wadhwa. "This flood of western educated and skilled talent will greatly boost the economies of India and China and strengthen their competitiveness.

...... Until recently, America has been the prime destination for the world's best and brightest immigrants. "Immigrants have made tremendous personal sacrifices," said Wadhwa. "They would leave behind relatives and friends and accept second-tier status in American society.

"Now countries like India and China are providing equal career opportunities and a better quality of life. So the most highly educated and skilled are often returning home."

I recall with amusement the heated debates we used to have about the 'brain drain' and how to stop it. All sorts of prescriptions were given (eg compulsory home service before migrating, an exit fee for those departing from schools like the IITs, etc). None of this is required. When growth accelerates and creates opportunities, brain drain ceases to be an issue. Growth may not the complete answer to poverty but it is certainly an answer to brain drain.


Anonymous said...

Dear Professor:

Reg: Prodigal

I don't think this word means what you think it means.



amreekandesi said...

I wonder what you think about whether the Indian economy will be able to absorb all these highly experienced/qualified professionals?

Are there enough jobs out there? Or are these people going to struggle to find an adequate position once they land in India?

Krishnan said...

The hostility towards immigrants in general and towards skilled immigrants in particular has grown in the US - since they are a convenient scape goats for all that ails the country. Never mind that immigrants (and many from India) have driven so much of the innovation in so many ways. The US will get what it deserves and what the politicians say they want - jobs for "real" americans or some such nonsense. As the economy tanks and as companies find it difficult to get competent and skilled professionals, they may (MAY) wake up to the reality that many have left the US of A, gone back and revved up their home country's economic engines. There are still a few sensible voices left - notably Bill Gates of Microsoft who keeps reminding politicians of the role of skilled labor in the growth of the US economy. US universities are wonderful at churning out graduates in anything but science and engineering - and immigrants tend to major in science and engineering. It seems the Obama administration is determined to look inward, to choke off innovation in the name of fairness and will let union bosses run amok. I am afraid that what Obama has started, will make Smoot Hawley look tame by comparison. It would be terrific to see India roar out of the mess and remind us all that there is really no dearth of human capital, it just happened to have left the shores of the US of A.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. AS

Or perhaps it does, Pablo. Perhaps it does.


Krishnan said...

The EAWA (Employ American Workers Act) (part of the stimulus package) will play a big part in talent returning to India. The Wall Street Journal has two OpEd pieces today (By the Dean/Associate Tean at Tuck/Dartmouth) and

Looks like Smoot Hawley lives in many different ways. This would be a tremendous opportunity for other countries to leapfrog the US - the stories mention how OPEN the UK is for skilled graduates. If you want proof of politician stupidity and narrow mindedness this is an excellent example.