Friday, November 27, 2009

For ‘Brain Gain’

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has used his trip to the US as an opportunity to invite all Indians settled abroad to return home. During his interaction with prominent members of the Indian American community in Washington on Wednesday, he used the coinage ‘‘brain gain’’ for ‘‘reverse brain drain’’ and extended ‘‘an invitation to all Indian Americans and non-resident Indians who wish to return home to India in one capacity or another’’, because ‘‘modern technology and our flexible policies have opened possibilities of working in both places’’. But why did those Indians leave their motherland in the first place? It is because of lack of infrastructure and the right ambience to do justice to their merit. While some infrastructure has been put in place, especially after the reforms initiated in the early nineties, but which is again nothing compared to what they get in developed countries, there is still a long way to go as far as the right ambience is concerned — that is, in the matter of things like meritocracy, autonomy beyond a stifling bureaucracy, interdisciplinary flexibility and a modern, pragmatic academic regime. Why should, for instance, a brain decide to return home when there are caste-based quotas in such centres of excellence as IITs and IIMs too, so much so that the HRD Ministry would have such quotas in recruitment to the faculty as well? Such perverseness and retrograde ‘‘affirmative action’’ road map is unique to this country whose leaders otherwise talk of a knowledge society. For what the Prime Minister says ‘‘brain gain’’ to happen, he should rather heed the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) and implement all of its radical recommendations. But will the politician allow this to happen? THE SENTINEL

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