The Great Indian Brain Drain Theory

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I was having this interesting conversation with one of my friends who runs a small startup here in Delhi and he was telling me how easy it is to find talented techies here. With talented techies he means those desperate short term diploma holders from NIIT/Aptech or graduates from B-Grade engineering colleges who are ready to work for peanuts. Of course there is this one in ten candidate who has worked at a major IT company and carries that work experience letter with him always, asking for a higher pay package.

My friend responds to my continuous mocking at the so called techie talent pool in India by saying that Indians are employed at some of the best IT companies across the globe and have been involved in several major projects. All of a sudden he breaks into silence when I ask him, why didn’t Apple, Microsoft and Google originate from India? I guess he didn’t had an answer to that as he left the conversation in a jiffy, finished with his coffee and took his leave.

I spent the next one hour sitting in the cafeteria, slowly sipping my coffee and pretending to work on my MacBook. I was trying to give my own question some thoughts. I can understand that while some of the biggest ideas didn’t really trigger from here but a major portion of those responsible were in fact Indians. So what is stopping another Apple, Microsoft or Google to happen from India?

The Indian talent in the technology sector is no doubt pure awesome. Both the established as well as the upcoming talent pool is highly acclaimed across the globe. We have the IITs/NITs/Deemed universities which churn out some of the best in the field of technology. So what is stopping us from giving the next Steve Jobs to the world? I’ll blame it on the trends and partially on the mindset we Indians tend to have.

funny career flowchart

The current trend for any engineering student or a technology enthusiast is study, finish with graduation and look for a job. Work your ass out for at least an year and then quit. Go for a degree in management from a reputed institute and then look for a job again. Entrepreneurship is one field everyone is terrified to follow. Why is that so? First, it’s not an easy job. Second, India is one of the toughest countries in the world to do business.

The central government in India pumps millions of Rupees into the IITs every year. How many of those students pass out of IIT and choose to stay in the country itself? 1-2%. How many of those choose to create jobs instead of settling for a high paying job for themselves? Another 1-2%. How many of them choose to opt for a management degree from a reputed institution to find the highest paying jobs in India and abroad? 80%.

The growing Indian brain drain leaves our country into a sink at the end of the day. Are we a bunch of slaves working for the big bad west? Or are we just happy with the whole outsourcing boom? I don’t have an answer. Do you? Oh wait! My imported cordless phone just broke down. I need to call customer support. Yes it’s based in India.

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10 Comments

  1. lol. loved the diagram of urs.

    well brain drain is a loss…but there are a lot of indians who go abroad make some extra bucks and come back to india n then invest.

    those who dont come back send in finances from there to their family here.so it is in a manner helping India.

    Obviously on the macro level its total BRAIN DRAIN. and to top it all the Indians also hav to slog off their..u know what even in other countries….coz of racism,differnce in thought process,upbringing etc etc….

    overall its a depressing sight

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  2. you shouldn’t forget Infy,Wipro,TCS,Satyam et al. though these survive on outsourcing but still they were the vision of INDIAN entrepreneurial talent. Also have you heard of Tulsi Tanti? google it dude. need i also remind you of the higher echelons in Sun and Intel????

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  3. I have to admit I like the article and the diagram, they’re all valid observations.

    That said, I’m not quite sure whether you’re saying the flaw is with Indians or the Indian system. Yes there are lots of Indians working for Google, Apple and Microsoft but they didn’t envision it, which is valid.

    Although it’s only one example, though, you mustn’t rule out Sabeer Bhatia. He essentially created free webmail, which is almost as frequently used these days as the water we drink.

    If your response is “he went to university in the US” then that’s fine, you’re blaming the constrictive nature of the Indian system, to which I wholeheartedly agree. But your article seems to imply it’s the Indian individual that is flawed, and I’m not quite sure I do with that.

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  4. “Entrepreneurship is one field everyone is terrified to follow. Why is that so? First, it’s not an easy job. Second, India is one of the toughest countries in the world to do business.”

    You’re dead on on that! More than 95% (ha? it’s easily more than that) of established entrepreneurs today in the business sector are as they say, “old money”. It’s because of that that the many trying to join that pool are shunned sooner than they can even set themselves up. It’s really discouraging – the rich keep getting richer and the average person gets pushed down even further, leading to that primitive mindset because they don’t have the ability to expect something more, something better.

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