Interventions

An Irreversible Brain Drain

Migration of any kind should be encouraged so that people from one place is exposed to a different environment. However, it should not happen out of desperation, creating an irreversible brain drain, writes N. Bobo Meitei.
An Irreversible Brain Drain

Migration is an eternal and inevitable process. It usually happens among the youths who are particularly motivated by employment opportunities, better education, and comfort. It can be categorized into rural-rural, rural-urban, urban-rural and urban-urban. What is important among these is the stream of rural to urban migration which is responsible for significant brain drain in the rural of India like elsewhere. 

States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa with large concentration of poor population, higher levels of fertility and low levels of literacy have been blighted by rural to urban migration. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh account for 59 percent of migrant workers leaving their place of residence. However, it is no surprise, given the shortage of institutes of higher learning and lack of quality education. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh account for nearly 95 percent of the job lost in agriculture.

“In the present scenario, condition of rural education is still very poor. In some villages there are few government schools, children have to travel distances to avail these facilities and most schools in these locations don’t provide computer education,” says Dr. DV Rai, Vice-Chacellor of Shobhit University, Saharanour, Uttar Pradesh.

On the contrary, Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra attract migrants with varied educational attainment. Karnataka also attracts a sizable proportion of migrants who have completed higher secondary and diploma or graduate and above. The states of Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka receive 64.1 percent of the intra-state migrant workers in the age group 15-32 years, according to a report prepared by Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.

From a policy perspective, it is quite clear that India needs to address the issue of quality education in higher education in its rural and also the issue of number. It must be admitted that universities are underfinanced, and most state governments are left with little resources to rescue the ailing schools, colleges and universities. Such a scenario, apparently, encourages rural students to migrate for better education to the cities with little prospect of returning to their rural base.

Recognizing the shortage of institutes for higher learning, the Parliament passed the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, 2010. But it is certain that it will not be the youths from rural who would be benefitted as foreign universities are likely to set up their campuses in cities or in towns and their higher fees will also discourage them from gaining entry.

Dr. Rai explains, “Rural areas have not been left out, but rather have to be left out due to lack of infrastructure and amenities required for establishing universities. However, last two decades have witnessed unprecedented growth in institutes of higher education of higher education primarily due to private participation. Private universities have contributed significantly in increasing the gross enrollment ratio (GRE) from 10% in 2000 to 13.8% in 2010.”

In such a case government intervention is required. It could be by setting up agricultural colleges or business management institutes which emphasise on rural marketing and management. The moves can definitely help modernize farming and also impart marketing and management skills in rural youths to market and manage agricultural produce in an organised fashion. Vocational education can also be introduced to help them realize optimal utilization of available resources.

According to Retired Brigadier (Dr) Surjit Singh Pabla, Vice-Chancellor of Managlayatan University, “The solution probably lies in all the vice-chancellors of the nearly 700 universities in the country getting together and forcing the government to allow them the autonomy to run their universities and affect improvements in curricula and delivery methods to improve the standard of higher education in the country.”

It will be a matter of time before these initiatives translate the power of the youth into higher economic growth and improved development outcomes.

Prof. Piyush Kumar Sinha, Chairperson-Centre for Retailing& Marketing at IIM Ahmedabad, opines, “Enhance interaction through research, case writing, training and advisory, exchange of thought in workshops, lecture series and conferences; participation in decision-making as members of industry and government bodies and committees. These things help syncing industrial need with education.”

In can never be possible to maintain a proportionate growth. Growth of larger scale can happen in places where the size of the population is enormous and its characteristic is rather diverse. But in a country where two-thirds of its population lives in its rural, to ignore its rural is to remain oblivious to a piling precarious predicament and, most importantly, overlooking a market with enormous potential.

Migration of any kind should be encouraged so that people from one place is exposed to a different environment. It, however, should not happen out of desperation in which the situation renders people to turn their back to their place of origin, thus creating an irreversible brain drain.

(With inputs gathered by our correspondents Mohd Mustaquim and Samiksha Jain)

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