Keeping in mind the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh in 2021, an idea tags along on increased attraction of Bangladeshi youths towards migration. This however can be related to Brain Drain, a common term we often use from the colonial perspective in the post-industrial and post colonized society. Brain drain refers to the emigration of highly qualified individuals from underdeveloped towards the developed country, formally entering through tertiary education and later setting up their mindset according to the Western nations. This mainly takes place in the form of education they receive and the culture they later try to follow. A data provided by UNESCO showed 57,675 Bangladeshi students are currently residing in abroad for the year 2019.
The motive behind this paper is to observe the brain drain from a social perspective rather than economical. Few discussions have been taken place under this headline though mostly from an economic perspective. The reason behind choosing a social perspective as a lens to view brain drain is to demonstrate how ideas towards patriotism shift from collective to an individual decision and what can be the reason behind so.
An online survey has been conducted for August 2020 where around 300 people from various backgrounds participated. The index used to measure the change in mindset is the ‘age of individuals’. The age bar has been set up from ‘15 to 45 and above’. A detailed analysis has been done to understand their view related to this hypothesis through a set of questionnaires. Some typical choices have been used to answer the questions.
Critical features of the survey
95% of the participants agreed to the hypothesis of an increased tendency among youths to migrate. The age-specific data shows, there is no distinction towards this agreement.
The main questionnaire starts with ‘the most lucrative job among Bangladeshi from socioeconomic perspective’. And without any hesitation, the most common (70%) answer is ‘BCS/government job’, next being university faculty, defense, and entrepreneurship. This category however has no age bar distinction among participants’ choice.
The reasons behind so can be demonstrated through the following questions where participants’ have answered the intention related to such decision making. Government job or BCS has limited seats, around 2500 and every year around 412,000 aspirants apply. Aspirants’ main motive behind joining such a rigorous competitive system is achieving the ‘highest respect in society’ which is followed by ‘financial security’ and a fewer percentage of ‘serving motherland’. The first two category goes almost parallel, though the societal prestige category overrules from the age bar above 25.
The next question asked about the demotivating nature towards becoming a researcher and entrepreneur, where overall 39% agreed to ‘lack of proper patronization’ and 36% settled to ‘lack of social recognition’, with fewer to the choice ‘absence of proper workspace’.
The opposite faces of the above-mentioned professions reflect the value of social recognition while choosing a career. If we take a deeper look in the distinct age sectors, youths from 15-35 agreed only on two factors, lack of social recognition and lack of funding. Thus economic and social factors act as the main demotivation towards starting a startup, the same reasons acting as the motivation towards government job. The “badge of proud parents’” society offers to the guardian of the BCS cadre is well known to us.
Another remarkable societal prestige is offered to the emigrants. In the question where participants were asked whether emigrants receive higher societal value in our country, 60% agreed on indifference to the age bars. Since BCS is uncertain and has limited seats, the next best alternative to obtain the badge of Respected in the society belongs to the emigrants. In the above questions, participants of all ages almost acknowledged to the same points. The twist comes in the latter part of the questionnaire.
Participants have been asked if they would settle in Bangladesh if they had enough money to be in a developed country, where young people (15-25) answered they would like to be abroad in contrast to the participants in the age range above 35. Our hypothesis thus aligns perfectly through these answers. Next, they have been asked whether they would settle abroad starting from an educational/professional journey, where the youngest (15-25) answered positively compared to the other range bars where the percentage of ‘yes’ decreased with increasing age bars.
The last question in this set inquired whether participants would live abroad with the same wage irrespective of the border; almost all age bars decided to be in the homeland. The final question called for a reason behind youths’ attraction towards living abroad. Most agreed to the option of ‘developed lifestyle’, with fewer on ‘improved education and health sector’ and very little on ‘effect of colonialism’. A deeper view demonstrates no visible distinction of choice among the different generations.
Both the agreements and disagreements among young (15-35) and old (above 45) populations can be understood through the following logic. The already established senior citizens have less interest in migration since a new beginning won’t be much effective at this stage. Also, a larger population of this generation spent their childhood in the rural part of the country to whom moving to the capital city was the success destination, the standard of quality life is the one they are leading.
In contrast, the younger generation is full of potential and growth, with ambitions higher than their previous. From an early age, they have been exposed to Western culture, through media and society, and for them, the standard of living in the West is the ultimate destination i.e. being a citizen of the developed country. This, through societal view, can be termed as an effect of colonization. An indirect effect of the West has always been present in the Third world, in the post-colonial period, through the imposition of culture and knowledge.
Another important consideration is the persuasive nature of family members promoting quality life abroad. Since the quality of life became the main reason behind migration, older family members, not for themselves, but their next-generation push towards migration. This often initiates as higher education possibilities and ends up being settled, which also weights the social status of their parents. Also, the pride behind holding dual citizenship, which many guardians try to achieve through their next generation, is not petty.
The era of globalization demands international citizens and the paper concluded a higher portion of them belonging to our country. However, there is no space to judge one’s choice of living standards as long as it’s not unlawful. The paper just showed a picture of increased migration but it is impossible to weight the positive and negative impacts on the homeland since both contribute and impede to a certain extent.
A solid justification requires a more one to one personal interview of participants from various backgrounds with detailed analysis behind their choices. But the highlighted feature, society at the end of the day shapes those choices, cannot be overlooked.
Author and Co-authors:
Rufaida Shafiq Aaneela (Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka)
Asif Rahman (Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka)
Siffat Bin Ayub (Department of Finance and Banking, Bangladesh University of Professionals)