I don't know why, but I woke up this morning with one thought in my head.. I have no idea how it got in there. Maybe I had a dream or something and it just slipped in. For some strange reason, I woke up thinking about...
Quite a familiar term for the Indians, isn't it? (I can already see a few people rolling their eyes). But I am serious. A few things that I never thought of before, struck me with full force. It became apparent that I wouldn't get any useful work done until I let out my thoughts, so here I am sitting a blogging, even though my exams are so near.
As a school kid, I felt very strongly about brain drain. I had even written a script for a play on this topic. I always wondered why the most talented people of this country left to work in other countries. What's wrong with our own???
Today, I am no longer a school kid. I am a university kid. And I am in Singapore. This doesn't really contribute to brain drain, does it? Considering that I am here just for my Bachelor's degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. Its just for education. Technically, I am not working here. But today, for the first time, I asked myself.... What are you going to do after you graduate? Where are you headed?
The answer is pretty simple. I want to graduate with honours, then I want to do my masters and then Ph.D. Preferably in another university in another country. I am currently studying in ONE of the best universities in the world. I would like to study in THE best university for my masters and doctorate. After that??? Post-doctorate of course. Where?? I dunno.. maybe in the USA, or any other country which is the best for the topic that I am majoring in. After that? Where will you work? Where are you going to settle down? In India?
I pause at that point... hesitant to go on
I think about it carefully. I want to study in the best universities so that I will get the best out of education and so that everything that I learn will later help me in my research. My dearest ambition is to do research on some disease like AIDS or cancer. Millions die suffering from these diseases. One of my favourite physics teachers at school succumbed to cancer. Will I be able to do high quality research on these diseases in my country? Without any administrative interference? Without any politics?
I pause again....
I come from a family of scientists. Most of my family members, save one or two, got into research. Including my parents. They are doing well. But the question is, are they doing as well as they would have liked to? My dad has told me about the cutting edge research he had done during his post doctorate in the US. And my mom also talks about what she did during her post-doctorate. It all sounds pretty exciting. Then they moved to India after I was born. And they have been pretty happy. My dad got into academics and became a professor, my mom worked in private industries. But recently, my mom quit her job. Reason? She wasn't too happy with all the interference from the top levels of the company. Research was no longer the simple pleasure it used to be. Too much politics, I guess. My dad is still a professor. But I know that his position has its limitations. Compared to many others I have seen, both of them are still in good positions. For example, my dad has published a book and my mom has learnt lots during the course of her stay in that company and is happy about that. I wouldn't mind being like them. But I also wouldn't mind being better. After all, isn't that every parent's dream?
I have realized that I am no longer confident that I will return to my country after I complete my Ph.D. Not as confident as I was when I wrote that play. I want to do pure basic research, with proper funding, facilities and enthusiasm from the top levels. Not administrative headaches and no politics, thank you very much. And I am not so sure if I will get that in my country.
Today, I understand why so many have left our country. Imagine, if you are an astrophysicist, where would you rather work? ISRO or NASA? Which institute will you choose to be a professor in? Harvard or IIT? Answer is obvious, isn't it? Everyone has a dream. And they will work towards trying to fulfill that dream, no matter where they have to go. The resaon why this dream is so precious to all of us, is probably because we don't really know if we will have another life, another chance after this one to make it come true. We just don't want to even think about leaving this dream unfulfilled. It is pretty understandable that we are hesitant to put out country's needs in front of our own.
I remember, the President of Indian once said that he had a dream of making India a developed nation by 2020. Can his dream come true unless we put in our efforts? His dream is meant to be an inspiration for us. Are we looking at it that way? Or are we going to just sit around waiting for 2020, then point a finger at him saying "Ah ha! its 2020 and we are still developing. You were wrong in your prediction! It was just an old fool's dream." *pauses to ponder*.....
Look back at our country, more than half a century ago, people fought for our country's freedom. They sacrificed their lives for the cause. Why did they have to do that? They wouldn't be around to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice anyways. So why bother? They gave up their lives for the cause because they wanted their children and grandchildren to experience the freedom they never had. They didn't do it for themselves. They did it for the greater good...
At this point, a question comes to my mind... and I hope that you'll be able to answer it for me... or help me verify my own answers and theories...
Just the way so many people gave up their lives in the past to fight for the freedom of their country, is it possible for this generation to sacrifice certain dreams of theirs to make the nation a better place? Nobody is asking you to go to the border and sacrifice your life. Instead, your country is asking you for something more precious. It is asking you to sacrifice your dreams. Is it possible for the next two generations of Indians to sacrifice their dreams of the Nobel prize or any other prize that they could have won by doing high quality work in another country because their country couldn't afford to fund? Is it possible for us to sacrifice our future to make this country a developed nation? To make our kids and grand kids want to work in ISRO or in IIT? To give them a better place to live in and work in? So that they can realize their dreams and bring glory not just for themselves, but also for the nation at large? Is it worth it? Are these questions relevant in the modern day context?
After all, who knows the frustrations one has to face to come up in life in this country better than us? Who else will be able to provide the solutions? I ask again. Is it worth sacrificing your dream of living in a foreign country and earning loads of money just so that the future generations will not have to leave, and brain drain will become a thing existent only in history textbook?
My country, my pride.... in every espect you can think of.... Dream or Reality?