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August 15, 2005

Boston Globe on reverse brain drain

The Boston Globe recently had a good article on Indian engineers and entrepreneurs who've been working in Silicon Valley and Route 128 returning to India, either to work for American companies who've set up facilities there; for new Indian companies; or to start their own businesses.

[W]ith the maturing of the US technology industry, and the rapid expansion of India as a center for software programming and business process outsourcing, thousands of Indian engineers and managers -- many of them US-educated and working on Route 128 or in California's Silicon Valley -- are opting to go back to their homeland.

The trend is raising fear of a brain drain. Some business leaders are worried that the immigrant Indian entrepreneurs who helped fuel the US technology boom might now start companies in India, and take whole classes of jobs with them....

Neither the US nor the Indian government keeps count of how many Indian employees have left the American workforce to return to India. The Economic Times, a business publication in India, estimated this summer that 35,000 have returned to the largest Indian high-tech center, which is now in and around Bangalore.

This is a far larger number than has returned to a comparable area in China, Zhongguancun Science Park, outside Beijing. According to Henry Rowen, director emeritus of the the Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford, about 4,900 expatriate Chinese scientists and engineers have relocated to Zhongguancun in the last several years. They've done impressive things, but compared to 35,000, it's not a high number.

Returnees say that India's substantially lower average wages are more than offset by its dramatically lower cost of living. And with the proliferation of Western amenities, from air conditioning to consumer electronics to shopping malls, the returnees say they have found that the American lifestyle is now available in India -- at least for professionals laboring in the gleaming high-tech office parks of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

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Posted by dymaxion at August 15, 2005 09:43 PM


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