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Will WFH solve the issue of brain drain in Northeast India?

07 Jan,2022 02:25 PM, by: Pooja Dasgupta
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There is never a dispute about the fact that Northeast India has nurtured countless talented youths. Be it in the field of sports, academics, entertainment or the corporate sector, individuals from the region have proved their mettle in respective fields on several occasions. However, the fact remains that majority of the success they enjoy are outside the region.

Contrary to the relatively easy-going lifestyle of this beautiful region, the metro cities in India such as Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc. offers a much more robust lifestyle with wider opportunities in every field. Youths from humble towns of the NE region attempt to get enrolled in the top colleges and institutions of India after clearing their 10+2.

Following this course of events, many brilliant minds from the region see themselves settling in the big cities in India and abroad owing to the higher pay and fast-paced lifestyle they have gotten used to.

This was the pre-pandemic scenario.

Come 2020, life as we know it came to a standstill and the COVID 19 outbreak took over our lives, forcing us into lockdown mode. The outcome has not been easy – loss of jobs, careers and overall peace of mind disrupted the normalcy of our routine lives.

But out of this chaotic turn of events, emerged a much-needed respite for keeping the economy rolling – work from home mode. What started off as a temporary fix to the lockdown scenario made headlines for becoming the norm of a ‘new normal’. Many big corporate houses have officially issued WFH for long-term basis. Following suit, employees who migrated to big cities for career purpose, have now returned to their native hometowns to work remotely from the comfort of their home sweet home.

Talent returns home – is it a promising outlook?

On a positive note, youths who have returned to their hometowns are enjoying their extended time with family and cutting down on added expenses without giving up their ‘big city’ jobs.

There is now a surge in ‘work from home’ jobs, and the recruitment segment has shifted dynamically. Remote workers have grown in demand and companies are leveraging the situation by hiring talent from small-towns with a relatively higher pay.

From a macro perspective, youths returning to their hometowns indicate a reverse migration of talent back to small towns. However, does that imply a solution to the brain drain that had been taking place?

A deeper insight into the pandemic-induced reverse migration

Yes, many of our friends and relatives who had been living outside are now in town, indeed. However, a chat with them quickly reveals their upcoming plans.

Gargee, working as a creative director for a Delhi-based ad agency is currently in Guwahati, her hometown since the past three months. However, she intends on going back by March as she is looking to change jobs on her return. And the ground reality in her line of work is that although work from home is an option, preference is given to candidates who stay there or at least plan to relocate once the WFH scenario is lifted.

Suman on the other hand, works for a tech firm in Bangalore. Although, he is in his hometown Lakhimpur at the moment, he will have to go back as soon as they are notified to do so.

And there are those who have already settled with spouses outside their hometown. For them, returning back indicates a major shift – and not on a feasible scale.

Despite these, we have among us a group of aspiring entrepreneurs, who are working on their own ventures in their homeland. They have given rise to a promising entrepreneurial drive in the region and carries the potential to generate lucrative employment opportunities for the talented youths of the region.

Solution to outflow of human capital from the region

Admitted, the pandemic-induced reverse migration may not be the solution we were looking for to the persisting brain drain taking place. However, the rise of a new entrepreneurial breed, working towards competing at par with top startups in India seems to be opening avenues for both internship opportunities to local students as well as long-term employment opportunities for high-potential youths from the region.

A decade later from now will provide a clearer picture. Until then, we anticipate a continued growth of the startup culture with a decent percentage of upcoming youths deciding to settle down in their homeland instead and contribute towards a steady industrial growth in the region.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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