Brain drain and brain circulation in South Asia

Posted in conference 


Binod Khadria


Neither the debate nor the literature on brain drain and brain circulation has paidmuch attention to the question of how the shift from source-country determinantsof migration to destination-country determinants impacts on social science researchcapability in South Asian countries. There is not enough data available. However, one significant point worth considering is how the shifts in the global labour markethave distorted the educational and career choices of tertiary-level students in SouthAsian countries.


A little over forty years ago, the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences (1968) carried an entry on ‘migration’ by Brinley Thomas. He wrote, ‘The political, economic, and racial con?guration of the US today is very much the outcome of three transoceanic migrations – the Pilgrim Fathers and their successors, the slaves from Africa, and European masses in the twentieth century.’ Immediately thereafter, following the 1968 implementation of the landmark 1965 Amendments to the US Immigration and Nationality Act, a fourth wave of developing-country-born ‘knowledge workers’ began, which was the brain drain of the late twentieth century.


Practically speaking, innovations in South–South co-operation can also further the overall social science research capacity of South Asian countries. Intra-South Asian cooperation in social science research can be fostered by migration and dual citizenship for South Asians in other Southern countries such as Brazil, China and South Africa. One prerequisite for such innovation would be for the countries to abandon their ‘stereotype cocoons of sovereignty’ and think about alternative forms of transnationality. The outcome of the 2009 G-20 summit at Pittsburgh could be indicative of progress in this area.



I believe this article is very intersting and stimulates thinking.