Brain retain


We start this article with the scenario of 1991 when the words ‘Liberalization’, ‘Emerging economy’, ‘Globalization’ were unheard of and people used to question about their significance. The Indian Forex situation was precarious and even Gold from Indian treasury had to be pledged. Before we proceed with the main crux of the article we mention a small case experienced by a traveling manager in a city in the fareast.

It was a sultry day in 1991, and dark clouds were gathering over the city skies. Meanwhile, half a continent away, another storm was brewing in the Asian desert—the Gulf War had just begun. The manager, say Mr.M was in the middle of a two-week business trip to the Far east city. He was forced to cut it short and return to India but was relieved at being spared the ignominy of having to check out of the swanky Sheraton Towers hotel and into a budget because the meager foreign exchange allowance permitted by the Indian government those days could not cover the expense of staying at the Sheraton for the entire two weeks. It was with mixed feelings that he boarded the flight at the international airport. There was also a sense of loss about missing out on the much awaited international exposure. After all, this was his first overseas business trip in over five years of working for MNC!

Then came the concepts of liberalization, globalization, emerging economy as a policy from the Indian government itself with a strong will to join the main stream of international business. The pace of change in India is now so amazing and now it is a completely different story.

Compared to he aforesaid Business manager of an MNC in 1991 let us visualize today’s manager of an Indian company after almost 15 years into liberalization. We have summarized the same below.

Life and work for the Indian manager has also been transformed since the year of my first visit to foreign lands. Indeed, 1991 was a significant year for it witnessed the unleashing of the power of liberalization, and the media explosion triggered by CNN’s live coverage of the war. Today, the typical Indian manager is much more plugged into global business thanks to life-changing forces. The proliferation of internet and communication network has rapidly leveled the playing field. Today’s manager has access to real time information and global best practices regardless of where he is located. He is, also, able to network with his colleagues, customers and partners efficiently and cost-effectively. International travel is no longer a perquisite or the preserve of a privileged few. Fares are reasonable and at times it’s less expensive to- travel to international destinations than within India.

As growth in saturated developed economies flattens, India and China are today the hottest emerging markets for many global companies. There is a huge spike in global business knowledge and understanding of Indian managers, thanks to their ever increasing interaction with global colleagues who are visiting India to better understand the marker, or even moving expatriate assignments.

Compensation levels in corporate India have been registering strong double digit growth for the last several years. This growth is likely to be sustained as opportunities expand faster than the talent pool available. Add to that the benefits of lower cost of living, well-entrenched and familiar social and family networks and support systems. No wonder, so many IIM graduates are turning down international jobs. And NRI are giving up the once coveted green card to return home.

Mushrooming malls, gleaming cars on freshly widened roads, conspicuous consumption and a sense of optimism and urgency to join the ranks of the world’s leading economies are visible everywhere

A seismic shift is underway in the sub-continent as the tide is finally turning from Brain Drain to Brain Retain.

  • Judy Kiszonas

    How many words does the human retain?