The Real Indian Brain Drain

This blog is based on an idea by Akshay Bharadwaj.

For several decade after independence, India faced a severe problem of brain drain — the exodus of talented individuals to developed countries. Most professionals who went abroad, assimilated into the life and culture of their host countries, and became the others in their own home. When some of them tried to return, they faced difficulty in integrating themselves into a life they left behind.

However, if we look closely, the real brain drain is not the exodus of the talented to greener pastures. It is the difficulties of life within the country for the ones who stay behind that truly matters. Several factors compound this effect, and lead to larger problems like a highly dissatisfied citizenry ready to explode at the slightest provocation, and a country ready to implode under its own weight. Let’s try to identify some of these factors that are creating an unchecked obstruction in the Indian growth story.

Traffic, pollution, and public transportation

Public transportation has probably been the biggest mystery for civic administration in India. Cities are overcrowded with people, and there isn’t enough transportation for everyone. Metro rail systems promised a massive improvement, but failed to deliver on most of those promises.

An unreliable public transport system leads to more traffic everyday, because people cannot rely on public transportation, so they must make their own arrangements for even the smallest distances within the city. A city like Delhi, where the number of private cars continues to be more than the combined numbers in rest of the metropolitan cities of India, is adding nearly 1400 vehicles on the roads every day. And all of these vehicles are choking our cities, with extremely poor air quality throughout the year.

Moral policing, and superstitions beliefs

Everywhere you look, there will be at least one advertisement proclaiming the mystical powers of a godman who is born to be a messiah of the people. Or another person who would be claiming to cure people of their ailments for free with a magic potion recipe. And people queue up outside his door, because they don’t know any better. The education system has failed a vast majority of the country, and deprived them of the basic understanding between right and wrong.

The same people would be the ones to enforce their false morals on everyone else. Not only do they believe strongly, but enforce their beliefs that as if saying — “since we are stupid, and in a far greater majority than you, you must agree with us and become as stupid as we are.”

Garbage disposal

At every street corner in India, there is a community garbage point, where everyone is supposed to throw away the refuse from their homes, and conveniently forget about it. Once its out on the streets, it is no longer their problem. In spite of many efforts like the Swachh Bharat Campaign, the garbage refuses to go away from the streets. Landfills are choked to the gills, and pose serious health risks for entire cities. Yet, the authorities refuse to do anything about it, like generate power that can help reduce the burden on the coal and gas turbine power plants. We continue to extol the Scandinavian countries for getting rid of ‘all’ of their garbage while we throw plastic bags on our streets.

Everyday Corruption

No matter what the Prime Minister thinks, the problem of everyday corruption is so rampant that a life without it is seemingly no longer possible. Right from the grassroots to the highest echelons of power, corrupt practices that favor only a few, favor nepotism, decide policy aimed at benefiting the rich and powerful, has become a societal norm.

Poverty and crime

All of these factors put a strain on the resources available for the public, and deprives a large section of society from even the basic civic amenities. A large population of youth, who have their own aspirations and dreams, get attracted towards a life of crime to fulfill a lifestyle that they could not afford otherwise. Poverty, therefore, becomes the primary cause of rising crime rates in every part of the country. And there’s not just an increase in the rate of thefts and homicides only, crimes against women, cybercrimes, bank and ATM frauds are on the rise as well.

What it boils down to

The people who’ve migrated abroad were all witness to this degradation of the Indian society over the years. Some saw it early, some saw it later. But when they did, they chose to move away from their homeland to a place that was foreign to them in every aspect. Yet, they chose to call it home, because most of these problems are deep rooted in our society and require a concentrated effort by the entire population to eradicate them effectively. Until we achieve that, and change our mentality to solve these problems, it would be unwarranted to blame those who migrated to experience a better lifestyle. One, simply because they worked very hard for it, and deserve it. And second, because we the people of India, have not given them a reason to stay.

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