The world over, there are currently over 60 million expats.
I am an NRI, India’s biggest export. Yes, an NRI or a Non-Resident Indian has been among the country’s biggest exports since its pre-Independence days. Early on, after India gained its independence in the mid-1900s, it was the so-called elite who would travel overseas to get academic qualifications that were either not available in their own country or the standards of instructions were not up to scratch. A good percentage of such students would then stay on after their graduation and seek employment opportunities in their chosen country.
In addition, recovering from over 200 years of subjugation, the India of the mid-1900s didn’t have the kind of tertiary opportunities that many other countries had to offer. Besides lack of infrastructure and a host of hardships meant that India’s foreign-educated talented students would often settle outside their own country. This set of students were, primarily, looking for an opportunity to gainfully employ their education and talent.
In the late 1960s and the 1970s, however, the standards of education in India picked up, with the establishment of several specialised universities and colleges, including the Institutes of Technology (the first of which was set up in the 1950s) and the Institutes of Management (the 1960s). These and other good universities churned out immensely talented students – including engineers and doctors – who found opportunity not only at home but also in so-called greener pastures. This set of explorers were mostly seeking a better lifestyle and better monetary returns. The opening up of the Indian economy in the 1990s threw a host of opportunities in several sectors and there was a slight reduction in the brain drain during that period, which continued once again a decade later due to the dotcom boom of the early 2000s.
The world over, there are currently over 60 million expats – individuals and families that have temporarily chosen to work and live in another country – and that number is growing. Many people move overseas for work or adventure, but in almost all cases, it is the opportunity – for a better life for themselves and their families – that is the primary reason for the move. That the UAE continues to hold its own among the latest brain-drain rankings despite a sluggish economy says a lot about its allure for global talent.
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