Even as many founders raised concerns on India's exporting its best talent abroad, one of the country's most successful entrepreneurs - Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy - feels there is nothing wrong with a small percentage of Indians going abroad and excelling there.
"For me a small percentage of Indians going abroad, conducting themselves as model citizens of those societies that they have adopted and excelling in whatever profession they choose only enhances the brand image of India. These people are our ambassadors. So therefore I would like to applaud them rather than say they have to stay back in India. There is nothing wrong," Murthy said in an interview.
His comments on Indians excelling abroad comes days after India-born Parag Agrawal was appointed Twitter CEO, joining a long list of leaders born in India, who are now heading companies such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, Adobe and VMWare.
Also Read: Who is Parag Agrawal, the new CEO of Twitter?
"While we all celebrate how Indians are becoming global tech CEOs and bask in this reflected glory, we as Indians need to ask what is making our best leave the country and what will reverse this trend in years to come. A country with its best talent leaving will not win big" CRED founder Kunal Shah, one of India's best known entrepreneurs and angel investors said in a tweet on November 30th.
Razorpay founder Harshil Mathur concurred with him.
"Things are mostly the same on the freshers' side. Go to any IITs placements, Day 0 is full of US companies because placement offices convert $ salaries to ₹ salaries and prioritise. That’s our best talent across IITs going to the US every year, and returning is an exception.We need to do more as an ecosystem to change the trend," he said.
But, Murthy thinks about this a little differently.
"We have a lot of Indians. Our own youngsters have done extraordinary things. Look at the kind of startups that have come out. Therefore I would not worry too much about a few competent Indians going abroad and succeeding there. They are doing a lot of good to India, I wish them the best and I want them to do even more. They are the ambassadors of India," he said.
He spoke to Moneycontrol ahead of the annual Infosys Prize awards. Instituted by the Infosys Science Foundation in 2009, the Infosys Prize honors the outstanding achievements of contemporary researchers and scientists across six categories: Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. Winners of the Infosys Prize have gone to win the Nobel Prize and the Fields Medal.
Talking about the need to recognize and incentivise research, he said, "I do not know any nation that has improved the prosperity and well-being of its people without a good research, invention, and innovation infrastructure. Such societies have honored their intellectuals, created a climate conducive to their flourishing, and have made their lives physically comfortable. The Infosys Prize is a small attempt in this important task of our country", he said.
He further said that Covid19 created an opportunity for our scientists, engineers and businessmen to demonstrate the capabilities of their research success for scientists and engineers and business acumen of entrepreneurs.
"Even the Governments at Federal and state levels have risen to the occasion and have given over 1 billion doses. This is a laudatory feat by any standards. No other country in the democratic and transparent world has achieved this. The businesses have also quickly recovered from the setback created by the pandemic and pressed on the pedal of revenue growth while reaching their desirable profitability," he said.
"Producing masks, vaccines, and disinfectants for a billion-plus people is not a trivial task. The country has also managed food stocks well during this emergency. We did not seek the help of any developed nation like we used to do during the 50s and the 60s. We quickly geared up hospital beds, ICU wards,2 oxygen concentrators for overcoming this crisis. Most of these things are because of our progress in science and engineering and the commitment of our business people. This crisis has given an opportunity to our people to demonstrate their capability and their commitment," he added.
Even as India has made progress in science and engineering, Murthy said the country still has grand challenges like polluted rivers, shortage of potable water, low quality of primary and secondary education, avoidable hunger, low quality of public health, among others.
"There is nobody other than our future generations who will have to take responsibility to solve these problems. The world is advancing at a rapid rate. This is why education and learning to learn become very critical to our success. This scenario requires a mindset of curiosity, questioning, critical, analytical, and independent thinking, continual learning, and proactive problem-solving," he said.
He added that such a mindset will only develop in an environment of enthusiasm and oneness of Indians. "I want our youngsters to solve grand challenges before any other nation does it. I want India to become the place where students from the developed world will come here to study," he said.