Compulsory reverse brain drain: Indian doctors must return after higher studies in US
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Compulsory reverse brain drain: Indian doctors must return after higher studies in US

Immigration has never been under so much scrutiny as it is now. Across the oceans, popular destinations like the UK and US have tightened their processes. The UK has abandoned work after study. US has increased visa fees. While the move from the US will create some noise early on but it will be business as usual, the UK’s move is more damaging. Both the news stories are nothing in comparison to what you are about to witness.

Any doctor who is going to the US for higher medical studies will have to sign a bond with the government that they will return after their studies. Universities across the US will ask for this bond from 2012. There is a statistic to go with the news:  3000 doctors left for the US in the last 3 years and none of them returned.

Well, what can I say. Expecting people who left for the US to return back to India is wishful thinking. I just hope India isn’t getting its policies from China, just like it gets toys and electronics. In fact, China might not even have this kind of policy.

Compulsory brain drain

First there was a brain drain when the IIT students have left for the US, made their millions and never returned to India. Of late we are hearing the term reverse brain drain. This is a wave of entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who have returned to India and are contributing something back to the Indian economy. What we are about to witness is a compulsory reverse brain drain, where the brains will have to come back by law and not by will.

The law sounded simple when I read it, but it’s anything but simple. The cost of higher education in countries like US and UK is higher than it is in India. No one really want to spend an insane amount of money without thinking about the return on investment (ROI). The ROI will kick in only when these students get themselves a job and work for at least 3-10 years. That is a broad plan which fits for all the students, be it doctors or engineers.

If we go by the law, someone who goes on to study in the US and comes back to India will be a doctor, but a poor one. Not the reason why the brain drained in the first place. I hope it doesn’t, but if this goes through, there will be a sharp drop in the number students joining¬† medical courses in India. Engineering, which is already popular, will become even more so.

It’s clear that the government is trying to solve a problem, but this isn’t the right solution. I assume lack of doctors is the problem. Going by the count of doctors who went to the US and never came back, it’s just 1,000 doctors per year. We are not talking about Iceland but India, a country with a population of 1.2 billion people. If there was a Pareto chart of the reasons on why India doesn’t have enough doctors, I bet doctors leaving to the US wouldn’t figure in the top 5 reasons.

The same news item has a solution to the problem : 3 year Bachelor’s degree of Rural Health Care. That’s where the Indian government’s energies should be spent.

PS : Statistics always lie about the most important stuff. The correct statistic the Indian government has to look at is the scenario for the past 10 years, not 3 years. I am not saying it would be different but it would be more reliable.

Via indiatimes.com