A recently released study by Wan-Ying Chang and Lynn M. Milan of the National Science Foundation found that only 5.2 percent of Indians who study outside their home country to earn doctorates in science, engineering, and health return home. These numbers, which are based on a 2008 survey, are substantially lower than the 20.4 percent of foreign graduates who reported working or living in their countries of origin.
The NSF study also shows that China and countries of the former Soviet Union have lower return rates than India. But in the case of China that may be changing. Rajika Bhandari, a deputy vice president for research and evaluation at the Institute for International Education, told Nature recently that “China and South Korea have done a much better job of deliberately creating well-structured incentives and opportunities for students to return back home, than, say, India.”
Okay, so India needs to do a better job of promoting return migration. But that's not the problem. The issue is how we understand economic development. People are not sovereign commodities. India does not own the talent born there.
People should go where their talent can be best developed. Places should learn how they can benefit from migration, regardless of the direction of the flow. People develop, not places.