In my previous posting, I argued that there is a slow and emerging trend of global Indians moving back to India, however, after excluding the people who had to move back involuntarily due to lack of jobs or visas, the numbers of Indians moving voluntarily is too small to qualify as a major shift.
A recent story entitled “Tech talents from India, other countries leaving Silicon Valley” in the USA Today also pointed out that many people are returning due to visa issues. consider the case of Kunal Bahl featured in the story. “The rub is he wanted to stay in the U.S. and build a company here, but visa issues forced him to leave and start SnapDeal in his native country.” This worked to the advantage of India and Kunal, however, this again was a involuntary return.
Another evidence of Indians are preferring to stay in the US is seen from the consistent increase in the number of US citizenships granted to Indians. In contrast, numbers from China have remained stable. The number of US citizenships granted to Indians have increased by nearly 80% in the period 2001-2010, as compared to slight decline for Chinese. This clearly indicates strong preference for Indians to continue to seek permanent settlement in the US.
These comparative figures of China and India not only represent higher interest of Indians to stay in the US but also better brain gain strategies adopted by Chinese. According a report, in 2010, 134,000 overseas Chinese students came back, an increase of 25 percent from the previous year. In a recent article, Su-Yan Pan notes that “…China’s brain gain strategies feature three characteristics: a proactive diplomatic approach to international educational relations; strategic dependence on foreign higher education resources and a decentralized economic mechanism to raise foreign-trained human capital.”
Ministry of HRD, India has recently launched a website to attract global Indian talent (here is a related story). The Global Human Resources database is an excellent idea and provides a pathway for those seeking opportunities back in India. It invites global diaspora and states “This is going to be your window to the opportunities in Higher Education sector back home.” Another positive aspect is that it offer both short and long-term opportunities. The challenge however is successful execution and offering a portfolio of choices to academic talent. For example, currently only 14 public universities are list under vacancies section. Another challenge is appeal to appropriate motivations and needs of global academic talent. One of the strategies, I proposed is to create an aspirational award, Gyan Ratna, to accelerate and reward engagement with Indian higher education.
Overall, the number and direction of global Indians moving back voluntarily is still small to call it a major trend. However, India needs to gain back academic and research talent and successful implementation of many more policy initiatives like the Global Human Resources database are required.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha