Scholars have migrated to more affluent countries since the dawn of human civilization. In modern times, a sizable exodus of European scientists and technical experts took place to the United States and to a lesser extent to U.S.S.R. after the Second World War. The term ‘brain drain’ came into existence in the United Kingdom when many scientists migrated to the United States seeing there the tremendous advancement in technological build up particularly a radical change in science organisation and funds available for pursuing research projects. It was a great allurement for the intelligentsia of the U. K. The post war emergence of newly independent nations and international co-operation in improving the economy of these developing countries have resulted into countries enhancement of brain drain from these countries to more affluent.

Brain drain and India

The economic advancement of developing countries is impossible without the presence and formation of a new class of brain workers in the form of applied scientists and technocrats owing to their peculiar socio-economic set-up. In India the question of brain has arrested public attention recently, although we have been having our share of the drain for a long time like other nations of the world. It has been eloquently claimed that the brain drain is causing a colossal loss to India but there is little statistical support behind the contention. The main reason is that there is inadequate factual information available about the numbers of highly skilled and trained Indian nationals who have migrated or are intending to migrate abroad. The available figures to be shocking. not appear

Some facts and figures

The division of Scientific and Technical Personnel in the C. S. I. R. has an approximate figure of 29,000 migrants in this category. The drain is actually around 3 percent considering that there are at least 7,00,000 skilled scientists and technical persons in India. This figure is definitely less than the total of the unemployed scientists and doctors, Till one considers the quality of the drain, a 3 percent drain cannot be looked upon a dreadful. An analysis of the specialization pattern of representatives out of 3,8 14 scientists from 1962 “Indians Abroad Roster of the C.S. I. R. revealed that 58 percent of these scientists were Ph. D’s. At least 71 percent of these scientists were between 30 and 39 years old. Over 75 percent of these scientists had secured financial aid for their study and training abroad. This pattern is present amongest engineers and medical doctors too. The conclusion of this analysis is that we are losing the cream of our creative intelligentsia at the most productive period of their life. The level of academic qualification and training this group has received is a result of a highly selective and expensive system of education. The drain ensures that the advantage accruing out of his investment is denied to the country of the origin of this brain power. A span of 20 years of education spread through primary, secondary and university education culminating in Ph. D. would, at a gross approximation, be around fifty thousand rupees at the expense of the tax-payer. However, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the idea of the utility of this group in terms of productivity.

Brain drain and medical doctors

Nothing can be said with certainty about the requirement of brain power for the all-sided development of the country. Our requirement for medical doctors and engineers is based on our resources and development targets. We are pitifully undetermined in the medical profession. The total stock of medical doctors in India is estimated to be only 6,000. For a population of 500 millions, this works out to about one doctor for every 5,80 of population. This can be said only about urban areas. The ratio in rural areas is as low as one doctor for about 23,000 people. In a Latin American country, Columbia, which is facing a serious problem of the dearth of medical persons due to heavy drain to the United States of America the ratio is one doctor for 2,300 of population. The United States has a ratio of one doctor for 770 persons and still estimate a shortage of 50,000 physicians currently.

America and Canada and Indian students

A fairly large number of Indian students proceed abroad for higher studies in natural sciences. The type of training they receive in Canadian and American universities is mainly meant to absorb the students of these countries either in research and development or university teaching. It is this category or Indian students who presumably form the most significant section of our ‘brain drain’.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

In our country, a scheme of Scientists pool, was installed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (D, S, I. R.) as far back as 1958 as a device for bringing back the highly qualified Indian national from abroad. Under this scheme, till December, 1967 about 5,400 doctors selected for maintenance at public expense till a suitable employment was found. Out of this number, a considerable number of persons are still abroad One of the major factors resulting in the failure of this scheme apart from distinct discrepancy in financial allurement was a severe lack of facilities in the country for the highly qualified and specialized scientists. The salary discrepancy is a very big if not an unsurmountable factor. A Ph. D. of an American and Canadian University in such fields as Organic Chemistry is entitled to an opening at about Rs 6,250 per mensem in industry or the Government and Rs. 5,000 in a university teaching-cum research job. A Ph. D. from these countries is quite likely to be retained in our country at a basic salary of Rs. 350 per mensem. In addition, he will not be furnished with equipment and other facilities which are at the disposal in the U. S. A. in case he intends to continue his research work.


The problem of brain drain should be tackled at national and international level. Every time, an Indian scientist is honoured abroad or an Indian drug or patient is acclaimed abroad, it gives us a jolt. How many more jolts are needed to bring home to us that we have to harness our scientific talents in India. It is difficult to keep on accepting the foreign process, know how and hope for the Indian plant design.

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