Pankaj Mishra: When the Best and Brightest Leave India and China


In the 1970s, long before the word “globalization” achieved common currency, the buzzword in India was “brain drain” — an apparent problem that almost everyone in my family and circle of friends wanted to be part of.

Many young men and women educated at highly subsidized public institutions started leaving the country in the 1960s to deepen or monetize their skills in First World countries. Unlike short-term contract workers servicing the construction boom in the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia, these expensively educated seekers of greener grass, many of whom ended up as prominent bankers, entrepreneurs, innovators and scholars abroad, seemed unlikely to return to a slow-growth economy.

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