Thursday, August 06, 2009

Brain Drain Report

It's Thursday! Time for another installment of the Brain Drain Report. A lot of competition for workforce development goat of the week. Plenty of political nonsense getting thrown around in New Jersey. Institutions of higher education tie increased funding for themselves to keeping talent from leaving, a classic brain drain boondoggle. Virginia also gets in on the act. A community in Iowa celebrates the rare local who stays. Cleveland is still enamored with this folly. Watertown, NY is considering a commission to address my favorite red herring. All of the above are worthy candidates for 15-minutes of infamy. But the following schmaltz from a Long Island newspaper wins the prize:

There’s still time to reverse the disturbing trend. With the right leadership and zoning decisions, Long Island can once again be a landing point for young families starting out and for single New Yorkers alike. Once that happens, companies will find the region more attractive, which, in turn, creates jobs.

The brain drain debate must never take a back seat, because it’s among the biggest impediments to the region’s recovery.

For one night in Nassau, at least, it didn’t.

Cool downtowns don't keep young adults from leaving. Don't let a brain drain huckster tell you otherwise. I would suggest that the biggest impediment to the region's recovery is the irrational anxiety about brain drain.

For a more rational approach, please see India:

A little over two decades ago, when the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi -- during a visit to the United States to meet with President Ronald Reagan -- was asked about the flight of top professional talent from India to the US, he said it was not a 'brain drain' as it was being dubbed, but a 'brain bank' for India to draw upon whenever necessary.

Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar was asked the very same question by the members of The Indus Entrepreneurs, Washington, DC chapter during an interaction.

She, too, like the former prime minister said, it was not a brain drain, but rather "brain circulation". "What goes around, comes around, and I have seen that movement of Indians to other countries has had a very positive impact back in India."

I'm surprised that an Indian official embraced brain drain some 20+ years in the past. India's relationship with its expatriates hasn't exactly been all warm and fuzzy. And I've read about China being much more proactive in exporting talent. However, India today seems to be embracing a diaspora economy. (See yesterday's post)

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