Call it the Swades. Ambitious and bright scientists had left India for better opportunities. Over the years they gained vital exposure to the best global research labs. Now, after years of experimenting and collaborating with some of the top scientists in the world, they are choosing to return to their homeland, India.
Usually, such homecomings are driven partly by family compulsions. But of late it is a flurry of fellowships and incentives by the government that has helped the scientists relocate to India. The main attraction now is absorption into an institute where they can be part of the permanent faculty.
The department of science and technology is trying to turn brain drain into brain gain. The department tries to create opportunities for a scientific career. The first critical point is right after PhD . The second is to attract the scientists who have gone abroad back to the country.
An Indian scientist would love to stay in India, provided he is given a challenging job here if India becomes a land of opportunity.
India is indeed rapidly becoming a global research, design and development hub. More than 1,000 companies from around the world have set up their R&D centers in India. Over 2,00,000 scientists and engineers are working there, at least a fourth of whom have returned from overseas.
Take the case of Shashi Kumar :
Shashi Kumar group leader, metabolic engineering, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
From Uttar Pradesh to the United States may seem a long journey, but for Shashi Kumar it was a logical progression.
Now a group leader at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Delhi, Kumar, who was born in Tanda village, went to the US in 1988 soon after submitting his PhD thesis in the University of Delhi. After staying there for 12 years and getting a taste of various universities — University of Virginia, Charlottesville, University of Central Florida, Orlando, University of California, Berkeley — he returned to India in 2010 on a Ramalingaswami Fellowship. “Coming back was a tough call and I kept postponing it for almost a year. But deep within I wanted to do something for Indian science, which perhaps triggered my decision,” says Kumar, the son of a farmer.
The best part of working in India is the sense of belonging. But Indian science has serious challenges of research funds and quality of research. Although the government is making an effort to arrest brain drain bur it is still too little