The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brain drain turns gain

Washington, Feb. 16: America's leading trade association, founded 62 years ago to represent the entire spectrum of the US technology industry, has now confirmed what many had suspected.

America is experiencing a brain drain and it is turning into 'India's brain gain'.

'Foreign workers are indispensable to American science and engineering,' the American Electronics Association (AEA), said in a comprehensive report titled 'Losing the competitive advantage' The challenge for science and technology in the US'.

'One out of five US scientists and engineers are foreign-born. Yet, the number of skilled workers immigrating to the US has declined by 27 per cent between 2001 and 2003.'

The report is a follow-up to AEA's March 2004 study, which took the politically unpopular view here that 'offshoring is merely a symptom of a dramatically shifting global economy and the US role within it'.

John Harker, the chairman of AEA's board, said: 'We are slipping. The US is the proverbial frog in the pot of water oblivious to the slowly rising temperature.'

The report warned that while the US takes its global leadership for granted, countries like India are catching up. 'While we begin to close our minds to the best and brightest minds, these talented individuals and the intellectual property and the jobs they create here are lured elsewhere.'

Highlighting the irony of America's successful mission since World War II to defeat socialism and spread free enterprise, it said: 'The US has long urged the rest of the world to adopt free market principles... But the bad news is, ironically, that many countries listened. They have entered the global economy and now aggressively compete against the US ' or soon will.'

An AEA press release announcing the report drew attention to its finding that 'China and India are catching up in critical areas. These countries have restructured their economies to benefit from the free market system they once resisted.

'They are dramatically increasing the skill sets of their workforce, investing in research and development and adopting advanced technologies, all to create wealth and spur economic growth.'

In a case study on India, the report cited Wipro, 'once a vegetable products company', which 'has expanded to become the global leader among offshore software service providers'.

It lamented that Wipro is led by a Silicon Valley-trained former head of General Electric's medical scanner business, who went back to India.

'The highly-skilled Indian- born talent that once flocked to the US is now returning home, turning America's brain drain into India's brain gain.'

The report offered some surprising statistics. The US ranks 42nd in the world in cellphone penetration, slightly ahead of Jamaica. It ranks 11th in the world in broadband penetration.

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