May 22, 2013

Nagalim: Theories On The Naga “Brain-Drain”

According to this editorial a range of issues, including lack of development, is leading to a “brain-drain” which is having a very negative effect on the Naga people.

Below is an article from the Morung Express:



The concept of ‘brain-drain’ should seem less relevant in this era of globalization. Yet, in reality, the impact of brain drain for indigenous peoples such as the Nagas is perhaps greater than one is willing to acknowledge; and its consequences may be more far reaching than imagined. The Nagas most valuable resource is the people, but when the people are not the first priority, nor at the center of any public policy, they remain under-developed and disempowered. It is only natural for the people to therefore seek alternatives to further their capacities and potential as human beings.

In the Naga context, the lack of democratic space and the absence of rights and justice for the fullest development of human beings are quite evident. The situation is further compounded by chronic issues such as: rising unemployment, corruption, protracted political and armed conflict, poor governance, disregard for local talent, lack of equal opportunities, job scarcity, absence of the most basic infrastructure and progressive institutions and a dependent economy have only exacerbated the brain drain phenomenon. The phenomenon of an ‘internal brain drain’ is quite apparent in the Naga situation. This occurs when available and appropriate human resources are underutilized and not locally employed in their fields of expertise. While the brain drain is caused by many factors, the ‘internal brain drain’ also partially triggers the brain drain out of Nagaland.

Decades of armed conflict and structural violence has created a situation where Naga society has become economically dependent on the State and relies on it for responding to many societal issues. This overbearing dependency on the State and its institutions has resulted in an unhealthy relationship between State and People, ultimately weakening democratic principles such as inclusive participation, transparency and accountability. The State system, in turn, depends on the central government. The forms of dependency change or adapt to fit the situation or issue. In this prevailing scenario, the public is omitted or excluded from public policy processes that affect their lives. Not only does it impact the economy and the social and political realms, but more importantly it thwarts critical thinking, questioning authority and weakens the people’s intellectual potential.  

When people’s intellectual capacity diminishes responding to modern challenges and finding their own solutions becomes more difficult. For example, a consequence of the brain drain in areas of public policy is that the ultimate decision-making process is taken out of the local context. With the shift in power, outside policy makers who have little or no understanding of the local context usually make the decisions. As a result, local policy makers, local experts and local knowledge systems – which are critical to sustainability – are pushed to the margins. Consequently, public policy around development, healthcare, technology and education is left to politicians and bureaucrats. This trend is detrimental because such important matters of public policy cannot and should not be left to politicians and bureaucrats alone. These constricted structural and functional characteristics of such a State system, coupled with a repressive and suffocating environment have further fuelled the conditions for brain drain.

The Naga people need to seriously reflect on this brain drain phenomenon that is taking place in the society. Now is the defining moment for open dialogue and strategic planning towards reversing the brain drain. If Naga society is to evolve with dignity and respect, addressing the brain drain is one step toward ensuring that the brightest Naga minds return to build and develop their homeland. This means holistic development at all levels - strengthening civil society, democratic and just cultural and governance system, becoming accountable for corruption, building institutes that support research, analysis and policy, strengthening independent education, having a Naga Bank, and finding just solutions to the Naga political aspirations and the various conflicts at multiple levels of society both internally and externally. Ultimately, by reversing the brain drain the Naga people can become the makers of their own destiny.