For developing countries, one of the more important demographic shifts is the return of skilled workers and researchers — a reverse 'brain drain'. In India, for instance, this development is helping fuel a boom in research and development.
In this essay, Raghunath A. Mashelkar, director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and himself a returnee, cites the remarkable increase in foreign investment in research and development over the past five years as an indicator of India's growing reputation as an intellectual powerhouse.
Moreover, the projected shortage of researchers in rich countries means there will be greater demand for scientists from developing countries, he says — but with many in the global South choosing to stay put, there will be a greater drive towards technology being created in more than one country.
Along with major developments in medical and information technology research, these signs point, says Mashelkar, to a brilliant future for India. He predicts that by 2020, the effects of the country's 'silent scientific repatriation' will make it the world's number-one knowledge production centre.
Raghunath A. Mashelkar is on SciDev.Net's board of trustees.
Reference: Science 307, 1415 (2005)