Brain drain from Bangladesh

What is brain drain? According to Walter Adams, the term itself is loaded, pejorative, suggestive of loss of a vital resource, without compensation. More precisely, brain drain is the depletion of the intellectual or professional resources of a country through immigration. Such a migration has gone on for decades and in some measures for centuries, as is evidenced by the way the Scots have migrated to England, the United States, the Commonwealth and other parts of the world.
The climate, natural resources and relative lack of opportunity at home have impelled generations of able young Scots to leave home and seek their careers and fortunes elsewhere. The higher rewards and opportunities in other countries have been alluring factors. And what has been true of the Scots has also been true of Canadians, Scandinavians, Greeks and many other nationalities including Bangladesh . Although brain drain may not be the only reason for Bangladesh’s plight, it is surely a major factor which hampers progress. In fact, Bangladesh is a classic example of the aftermath that follows brain drain.
The 1950’s began amid optimism about the development of Asian countries including Bangladesh. It was assumed that investment, education, and modern management would be sufficient for their economic growth. By the 1960’s, disillusionment spread. The progress of developing countries was uneven, it fell short of aspirations, the developed countries grew faster, and therefore international gaps widened rather than narrowed. The “brain drain” issue moved from scholarly analysis and newspaper recriminations onto the floor of the United Nations General Assembly in late 1967. Resolutions introduced by developing countries demanded that richer members (particularly the United States) change their migration policies, encourage foreign students to learn the skills needed at home, encourage these students to return, and compensate the developing countries for losses.
Human capital, as a strategic resource, is flowing out of the economy of Bangladesh where it can make the greatest contribution to human welfare, and into economies already well-supplied with trained, capable, scientific and administrative personnel.
A nation is considered to be modern and advanced by surveying the extents of its technological developments in the field of science and industry. The main sources of the knowledge and know-how for these technologies are the educated and motivated individuals who include scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers, business pioneers, etc. But in a country like Bangladesh where most of the people are illiterate, advancement in development is at stake. On the other hand, the ones who are educated and capable of contributing towards the growth of the nation, prefer to live abroad. There is a significant number of highly educated Bangladeshis abroad who contribute to the welfare of foreign countries.
One such example can be taken from the life of a personal relative. He happens to be a highly qualified civil engineer from BUET. Upon graduation, he decided to come to United States where he expected to earn a higher salary than he would obtain back in Bangladesh. He began by working at a Macdonald’s restaurant for five years before he got a job that had anything to do with engineering. Today, such examples are abundant on the streets of the major cities of America or other developed countries.
Statistics show that 65 per cent of the newly graduated doctors in Bangladesh attempt to practice abroad. While in the country, there are millions of children suffering from malnutrition and childhood diseases. One can only imagine what improvements the newly graduates could have made in the country if they were to practice there. Moreover, every year thousands of people die due to untreated diseases. Even though there are free treatment plans available, the doctors that are available are usually inexperienced. The public is well aware of this fact and, therefore, whenever a complicated operation is to be performed, the patient, if he happens to be from wealthy family, is rushed to either Singapore, India or Thailand. The fate of the poor patient, on the other hand, lies in the hands of the inexperienced doctor.
The generally held conception among the people of Bangladesh is that anything “foreign” is better. They would rather go and struggle to survive in a richer country than struggle in their own land. The underdeveloped countries have found themselves woefully short of technical and professional personnel in the key administrative and research positions. Today, as never before, there is a “common market” for brain power which transcends national boundaries. The improved transportation and communication available have facilitated the increased rate of brain drain that drags Bangladesh backwards into ignorance.
The youths, who are supposed to bring sustainable development to Bangladesh by means of their creative skills and technical and technological know-how, are leaving the country. They all want to live abroad, where they perceive life to be much safer and cleaner, with minimal corruption. The cream of our students is migrating for overseas institutions of higher learning-some through scholarships, others by self-finance; very few of them ever return. If this trend of brain drain continues, Bangladesh will surely face major challenges, if not facing them already, in the initial decades of this century. Neighbours such as India and Pakistan have taken several initiatives to bring back their expatriates from overseas destinations. It is high time for our government to act and take measures to address the situation of brain drain by initiating discussions with the Bangladeshi immigrants.