This is an updated copy of the version on BadHistory. I plan to update it in accordance with the feedback I got. I'd like to thank two people who will remain anonymous for helping me greatly with this post (you know who you are) submitted by
Three years ago a festschrift
for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri was published by Shubhra Chakrabarti, a history teacher at the University of Delhi and Utsa Patnaik, a Marxist economist who taught at JNU until 2010.
One of the essays in the festschirt by Utsa Patnaik was an attempt to quantify the "drain" undergone by India during British Rule. Her conclusion? Britain robbed India of $45 trillion (or £9.2 trillion) during their 200 or so years of rule. This figure was immensely popular, and got republished in several major news outlets (here
(they get the number wrong) and more recently here
), got a mention from the Minister of External Affairs
& returns 29,100 results on Google
. There's also plenty of references
to it here on Reddit.
Patnaik is not the first to calculate such a figure. Angus Maddison thought it was £100 million, Simon Digby said £1 billion, Javier Estaban said £40 million see Roy (2019)
. The huge range of figures should set off some alarm bells.
So how did Patnaik calculate this (shockingly large) figure? Well, even though I don't have access to the festschrift, she conveniently has written an article detailing her methodology here
. Let's have a look.
How exactly did the British manage to diddle us and drain our wealth’ ? was the question that Basudev Chatterjee (later editor of a volume in the Towards Freedom project) had posed to me 50 years ago when we were fellow-students abroad.
This is begging the question.
After decades of research I find that using India’s commodity export surplus as the measure and applying an interest rate of 5%, the total drain from 1765 to 1938, compounded up to 2016, comes to £9.2 trillion; since $4.86 exchanged for £1 those days, this sum equals about $45 trillion.
This is completely meaningless. To understand why it's meaningless consider India's annual coconut exports. These are almost certainly a surplus but the surplus in trade is countered by the other country buying the product
(indeed, by definition
, trade surpluses contribute to the GDP of a nation which hardly plays into intuitive conceptualisations of drain).
Furthermore, Dewey (2019)
critiques the 5% interest rate.
She [Patnaik] consistently adopts statistical assumptions (such as compound interest at a rate of 5% per annum over centuries) that exaggerate the magnitude of the drain
The exact mechanism of drain, or transfers from India to Britain was quite simple.
Drain theory possessed the political merit of being easily grasped by a nation of peasants. [...] No other idea could arouse people than the thought that they were being taxed so that others in far off lands might live in comfort. [...] It was, therefore, inevitable that the drain theory became the main staple of nationalist political agitation during the Gandhian era.
- Chandra et al. (1989)
The key factor was Britain’s control over our taxation revenues combined with control over India’s financial gold and forex earnings from its booming commodity export surplus with the world. Simply put, Britain used locally raised rupee tax revenues to pay for its net import of goods, a highly abnormal use of budgetary funds not seen in any sovereign country.
The issue with figures like these is they all make certain methodological assumptions that are impossible to prove. From Roy in Frankema et al. (2019)
the "drain theory" of Indian poverty cannot be tested with evidence, for several reasons. First, it rests on the counterfactual that any money saved on account of factor payments abroad would translate into domestic investment, which can never be proved. Second, it rests on "the primitive notion that all payments to foreigners are "drain"", that is, on the assumption that these payments did not contribute to domestic national income to the equivalent extent (Kumar 1985, 384; see also Chaudhuri 1968). Again, this cannot be tested. [...] Fourth, while British officers serving India did receive salaries that were many times that of the average income in India, a paper using cross-country data shows that colonies with better paid officers were governed better (Jones 2013).
Indeed, drain theory rests on some very weak foundations. This, in of itself, should be enough to dismiss any of the other figures that get thrown out. Nonetheless, I felt it would be a useful exercise to continue exploring Patnaik's take on drain theory.
The East India Company from 1765 onwards allocated every year up to one-third of Indian budgetary revenues net of collection costs, to buy a large volume of goods for direct import into Britain, far in excess of that country’s own needs.
So what's going on here? Well Roy (2019)
explains it better:
Colonial India ran an export surplus, which, together with foreign investment, was used to pay for services purchased from Britain. These payments included interest on public debt, salaries, and pensions paid to government offcers who had come from Britain, salaries of managers and engineers, guaranteed profts paid to railway companies, and repatriated business profts. How do we know that any of these payments involved paying too much? The answer is we do not.
So what was really happening is the government was paying its workers for services (as well as guaranteeing profits - to promote investment - something the GoI does today Dalal (2019)
, and promoting business in India), and those workers were remitting some of that money to Britain. This is hardly a drain (unless, of course, Indian diaspora around the world today are "draining" it). In some cases, the remittances would take the form of goods (as described) see Chaudhuri (1983)
It is obvious that these debit items were financed through the export surplus on merchandise account, and later, when railway construction started on a large scale in India, through capital import. Until 1833 the East India Company followed a cumbersome method in remitting the annual home charges. This was to purchase export commodities in India out of revenue, which were then shipped to London and the proceeds from their sale handed over to the home treasury.
While Roy's earlier point argues better paid officers governed better, it is honestly impossible to say what part of the repatriated export surplus was a drain, and what was not. However calling all of it a drain is definitely misguided.
It's worth noting that Patnaik seems to make no attempt to quantify the benefits of the Raj either, Dewey (2019)
's 2nd criticism:
she [Patnaik] consistently ignores research that would tend to cut the economic impact of the drain down to size, such as the work on the sources of investment during the industrial revolution (which shows that industrialisation was financed by the ploughed-back profits of industrialists) or the costs of empire school (which stresses the high price of imperial defence)
Since tropical goods were highly prized in other cold temperate countries which could never produce them, in effect these free goods represented international purchasing power for Britain which kept a part for its own use and re-exported the balance to other countries in Europe and North America against import of food grains, iron and other goods in which it was deficient.
Re-exports necessarily adds value to goods when the goods are processed and when the goods are transported. The country with the largest navy at the time would presumably be in very good stead to do the latter.
The British historians Phyllis Deane and WA Cole presented an incorrect estimate of Britain’s 18th-19th century trade volume, by leaving out re-exports completely. I found that by 1800 Britain’s total trade was 62% higher than their estimate, on applying the correct definition of trade including re-exports, that is used by the United Nations and by all other international organisations.
While interesting, and certainly expected for such an old book, re-exporting necessarily adds value to goods.
When the Crown took over from the Company, from 1861 a clever system was developed under which all of India’s financial gold and forex earnings from its fast-rising commodity export surplus with the world, was intercepted and appropriated by Britain. As before up to a third of India’s rising budgetary revenues was not spent domestically but was set aside as ‘expenditure abroad’.
So, what does this mean? Britain appropriated all of India's earnings, and then spent a third of it aboard? Not exactly. She is describing home charges see Roy (2019)
Some of the expenditures on defense and administration were made in sterling and went out of the country. This payment by the government was known as the Home Charges. For example, interest payment on loans raised to finance construction of railways and irrigation works, pensions paid to retired officers, and purchase of stores, were payments in sterling. [...] almost all money that the government paid abroad corresponded to the purchase of a service from abroad. [...] The balance of payments system that emerged after 1800 was based on standard business principles. India bought something and paid for it. State revenues were used to pay for wages of people hired abroad, pay for interest on loans raised abroad, and repatriation of profits on foreign investments coming into India. These were legitimate market transactions.
Indeed, if paying for what you buy is drain, then several billions of us are drained every day.
The Secretary of State for India in Council, based in London, invited foreign importers to deposit with him the payment (in gold, sterling and their own currencies) for their net imports from India, and these gold and forex payments disappeared into the yawning maw of the SoS’s account in the Bank of England.
It should be noted that India having two heads was beneficial, and encouraged investment per Roy (2019)
The fact that the India Office in London managed a part of the monetary system made India creditworthy, stabilized its currency, and encouraged foreign savers to put money into railways and private enterprise in India. Current research on the history of public debt shows that stable and large colonies found it easier to borrow abroad than independent economies because the investors trusted the guarantee of the colonist powers.
Against India’s net foreign earnings he issued bills, termed Council bills (CBs), to an equivalent rupee value. The rate (between gold-linked sterling and silver rupee) at which the bills were issued, was carefully adjusted to the last farthing, so that foreigners would never find it more profitable to ship financial gold as payment directly to Indians, compared to using the CB route. Foreign importers then sent the CBs by post or by telegraph to the export houses in India, that via the exchange banks were paid out of the budgeted provision of sums under ‘expenditure abroad’, and the exporters in turn paid the producers (peasants and artisans) from whom they sourced the goods. Sunderland (2013)
argues CBs had two main roles (and neither were part of a grand plot to keep gold out of India):
Council bills had two roles. They firstly promoted trade by handing the IO some control of the rate of exchange and allowing the exchange banks to remit funds to India and to hedge currency transaction risks. They also enabled the Indian government to transfer cash to England for the payment of its UK commitments.
The United Nations (1962) historical data for 1900 to 1960, show that for three decades up to 1928 (and very likely earlier too) India posted the second highest merchandise export surplus in the world, with USA in the first position. Not only were Indians deprived of every bit of the enormous international purchasing power they had earned over 175 years, even its rupee equivalent was not issued to them since not even the colonial government was credited with any part of India’s net gold and forex earnings against which it could issue rupees. The sleight-of-hand employed, namely ‘paying’ producers out of their own taxes, made India’s export surplus unrequited and constituted a tax-financed drain to the metropolis, as had been correctly pointed out by those highly insightful classical writers, Dadabhai Naoroji and RCDutt.
It doesn't appear that others appreciate their insight Roy (2019)
K. N. Chaudhuri rightly calls such practice ‘confused’ economics ‘coloured by political feelings’.
Surplus budgets to effect such heavy tax-financed transfers had a severe employment–reducing and income-deflating effect: mass consumption was squeezed in order to release export goods. Per capita annual foodgrains absorption in British India declined from 210 kg. during the period 1904-09, to 157 kg. during 1937-41, and to only 137 kg by 1946. Dewey (1978)
points out reliability issues with Indian agriculutural statistics, however this calorie decline persists to this day. Some of it is attributed to less food being consumed at home Smith (2015)
, a lower infectious disease burden Duh & Spears (2016)
and diversified diets Vankatesh et al. (2016)
If even a part of its enormous foreign earnings had been credited to it and not entirely siphoned off, India could have imported modern technology to build up an industrial structure as Japan was doing.
This is, unfortunately, impossible to prove. Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication that India would've united (this is arguably more plausible than the given counterfactual1
). Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication India would not have been nuked in WW2, much like Japan. Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication India would not have been invaded by lizard people,
much like Japan.
The list continues eternally.
Nevertheless, I will charitably examine the given counterfactual anyway. Did pre-colonial India have industrial potential? The answer is a resounding no.
From Gupta (1980)
This article starts from the premise that while economic categories - the extent of commodity production, wage labour, monetarisation of the economy, etc - should be the basis for any analysis of the production relations of pre-British India, it is the nature of class struggles arising out of particular class alignments that finally gives the decisive twist to social change. Arguing on this premise, and analysing the available evidence, this article concludes that there was little potential for industrial revolution before the British arrived in India because, whatever might have been the character of economic categories of that period, the class relations had not sufficiently matured to develop productive forces and the required class struggle for a 'revolution' to take place.
A view echoed in Raychaudhuri (1983)
Yet all of this did not amount to an economic situation comparable to that of western Europe on the eve of the industrial revolution. Her technology - in agriculture as well as manufacturers - had by and large been stagnant for centuries. [...] The weakness of the Indian economy in the mid-eighteenth century, as compared to pre-industrial Europe was not simply a matter of technology and commercial and industrial organization. No scientific or geographical revolution formed part of the eighteenth-century Indian's historical experience. [...] Spontaneous movement towards industrialisation is unlikely in such a situation.
So now we've established India did not have industrial potential, was India similar to Japan just before the Meiji era? The answer, yet again, unsurprisingly, is no. Japan's economic situation was not comparable to India's, which allowed for Japan to finance its revolution. From Yasuba (1986)
All in all, the Japanese standard of living may not have been much below the English standard of living before industrialization, and both of them may have been considerably higher than the Indian standard of living. We can no longer say that Japan started from a pathetically low economic level and achieved a rapid or even "miraculous" economic growth. Japan's per capita income was almost as high as in Western Europe before industrialization, and it was possible for Japan to produce surplus in the Meiji Period to finance private and public capital formation.
The circumstances that led to Meiji Japan were extremely unique. See Tomlinson (1985)
Most modern comparisons between India and Japan, written by either Indianists or Japanese specialists, stress instead that industrial growth in Meiji Japan was the product of unique features that were not reproducible elsewhere. [...] it is undoubtably true that Japan's progress to industrialization has been unique and unrepeatable
So there you have it. Unsubstantiated statistical assumptions, calling any number you can a drain & assuming a counterfactual for no good reason gets you this $45 trillion number. Hopefully that's enough to bury it in the ground. 1. Several authors have affirmed that Indian identity is a colonial artefact. For example see Rajan 1969:
Perhaps the single greatest and most enduring impact of British rule over India is that it created an Indian nation, in the modern political sense. After centuries of rule by different dynasties overparts of the Indian sub-continent, and after about 100 years of British rule, Indians ceased to be merely Bengalis, Maharashtrians,or Tamils, linguistically and culturally. or see Bryant 2000:
But then, it would be anachronistic to condemn eighteenth-century Indians, who served the British, as collaborators, when the notion of 'democratic' nationalism or of an Indian 'nation' did not then exist. [...] Indians who fought for them, differed from the Europeans in having a primary attachment to a non-belligerent religion, family and local chief, which was stronger than any identity they might have with a more remote prince or 'nation'.
Chakrabarti, Shubra & Patnaik, Utsa (2018). Agrarian and other histories: Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri
. Colombia University Press
Hickel, Jason (2018). How the British stole $45 trillion from India
. The Guardian
Bhuyan, Aroonim & Sharma, Krishan (2019). The Great Loot: How the British stole $45 trillion from India.
Monbiot, George (2020). English Landowners have stolen our rights. It is time to reclaim them.
Tsjeng, Zing (2020). How Britain Stole $45 trillion from India with trains | Empires of Dirt.
Chaudhury, Dipanjan (2019). British looted $45 trillion from India in today’s value: Jaishankar.
The Economic Times
Roy, Tirthankar (2019). How British rule changed India's economy: The Paradox of the Raj.
Patnaik, Utsa (2018). How the British impoverished India.
Tuovila, Alicia (2019). Expenditure method.
Dewey, Clive (2019). Changing the guard: The dissolution of the nationalist–Marxist orthodoxy in the agrarian and agricultural history of India.
The Indian Economic & Social History Review
Chandra, Bipan et al. (1989). India's Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947.
Frankema, Ewout & Booth, Anne (2019). Fiscal Capacity and the Colonial State in Asia and Africa, c. 1850-1960.
Cambridge University Press
Dalal, Sucheta (2019). IL&FS Controversy: Centre is Paying Up on Sovereign Guarantees to ADB, KfW for Group's Loan.
Chaudhuri, K.N. (1983). X - Foreign Trade and Balance of Payments (1757–1947).
Cambridge University Press
Sunderland, David (2013). Financing the Raj: The City of London and Colonial India, 1858-1940.
Dewey, Clive (1978). Patwari and Chaukidar: Subordinate officials and the reliability of India’s agricultural statistics.
Smith, Lisa (2015). The great Indian calorie debate: Explaining rising undernourishment during India’s rapid economic growth.
Duh, Josephine & Spears, Dean (2016). Health and Hunger: Disease, Energy Needs, and the Indian Calorie Consumption Puzzle.
The Economic Journal
Vankatesh, P. et al. (2016). Relationship between Food Production and Consumption Diversity in India – Empirical Evidences from Cross Section Analysis.
Agricultural Economics Research Review
Gupta, Shaibal (1980). Potential of Industrial Revolution in Pre-British India.
Economic and Political Weekly
Raychaudhuri, Tapan (1983). I - The mid-eighteenth-century background.
Cambridge University Press
Yasuba, Yasukichi (1986). Standard of Living in Japan Before Industrialization: From what Level did Japan Begin? A Comment.
The Journal of Economic History
Tomblinson, B.R. (1985). Writing History Sideways: Lessons for Indian Economic Historians from Meiji Japan
. Cambridge University Press
Rajan, M.S. (1969). The Impact of British Rule in India.
Journal of Contemporary History
Bryant, G.J. (2000). Indigenous Mercenaries in the Service of European Imperialists: The Case of the Sepoys in the Early British Indian Army, 1750-1800.
War in History
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He did think of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the Xavier School of Management, but the desire for global exposure pushed him to explore options overseas. Kumar settled for a oneyear post-graduate course at the Imperial University in the UK, which he financed via an education loan. "Visa rules and the bleak job market there did weigh on my mind. But I had a feeling I could manage it," he says. He had confidence in Imperial's good global ranking, its alumni network and his own hard work.
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Kumar moved back to India late last year and has just landed a job with a private equity firm. "All my plans have been delayed by five years," he says. Close to half his salary today goes in paying monthly instalments on his education loan.
The World isn't Flat
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Young Indians, who went overseas for education, are facing a tough time finding a job. Many like Kumar have returned home. And some are now casting the net wider — looking for jobs from the US to Hong Kong and Singapore — or settling for sub-optimal options. Rupa Chanda, professor, IIM-Bangalore, who has worked on reports on international student mobility, says visa and immigration is the biggest factor affecting Indian students' decisions.
The US, the UK and Australia — the three most popular destinations for Indians seeking global education — have seen the number of Indian students come down over the past few years (see Out of Favour?). Remember, many Indian students take hefty education loans to finance their studies abroad. While many would find decent jobs back in India that would not help much as these students need dollar salaries to comfortably service their loan. This is taking its toll. "Overseas education is costly. Many Indian students are doing a cost-benefit analysis to figure how to recoup their investments overseas and putting off their plans ," explains New York-based Rahul Choudaha, chief knowledge officer, World Education Services (WES), a non-profit organization that provides credential evaluations for international students planning to study or work in the US and Canada.
美国、英国、澳大利亚，印度人寻求全球教育的最火的三大目的地，已经发现印度学生数量在过去几年持续下降（或者三大目的地已经不受青睐？）。记住，许多印度学生都背负着高额的教育贷款来资助他们的海外求学。虽然回到印度他们都能找到体面的工作，但是这些都没有太大的帮助，因为学生们需要一份用美元支付的薪水来帮助他们更轻松的偿还贷款。这就是造成的影响。“海外教育非常昂贵，许多印度学生都正在进行成本效益分析，以找出如何收回其海外投资，推迟他们（去海外就读）的计划，” 坐落于纽约的世界教育服务中心的知识总监Rahul Choudaha解释道。 这一非营利性组织为准备在美国和加拿大学习或工作的国际学生提供认证评估。
But to be fully able to understand how this trend will play out, one must understand the backdrop. A big generational shift is taking place among the students looking for overseas education. Many of them now are India's liberalization children, who have grown up post-1991 and lived in an increasingly global world with fewer barriers.
So in many ways this is their first brush with a world with barriers. Many are also children of globetrotting well-paid senior corporate executives who think differently about education, exposure and investing in a world-class education. "These parents understand the long-term rewards of a world-class education. I see many of my friends taking their children to these top campuses after they pass out from school to give them a first-hand feel," says Hema Ravichandar, strategic HR expert and a former HR head of Infosys.
所以从许多方面来说，这是他们第一次面对来自世界的阻碍。他们中也有许多是环游世界的、对教育、经历以及投资世界级教育有着不同看法的高薪企业的高管们的小孩。 “这些父母明白世界一流教育的长期回报。我看到我的许多朋友带着他们的小孩去顶尖的校园，让小孩们领略这些高等学府给他们的切身感受，”战略人力资源管理专家、Infosys 公司前人力资源主管 Hema Ravichandar说道。
Woes on Foreign Shores
Both of Ravichandar's children have studied overseas. Her daughter, Aditi, is doing her MBA from Wharton in the US and her son Nikhil, 22, completed his Bachelor's in economics from Warwick in the UK. Nikhil chose the UK over India because of the flexibility available in picking courses — he wanted to do economics with law which was impossible in India with its rigid course structures. "Education in India is not very research-driven and multicultural," he adds.
But during his stay there, the UK revoked the two-year work permit for foreign graduates. Thus he needed a firm job offer to stay on after graduation. This was difficult since he was particular about the kind of work. "I wanted a job in economic consulting," he says. Unable to get that he preferred to do a postgraduate programme instead. While he did not take any loan, for many of his classmates, who had taken a hefty education loan, things were difficult.
Now, Nikhil is back in India getting some interesting exposure at a few start-ups in Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley. He is contemplating a startup of his own. "This is the best time to take the risk and explore it," he says.
现在 Nikhil 已经回到了印度并且在印度的硅谷，班加罗尔与一些新兴企业进行了接触。他正在考虑自己创办一个公司。“这是最好的冒险和探索的时候”他说。
Across the Atlantic, Sujoyini Mandal, in her 20s, offers another peek into the odds that Indian students face overseas. After her graduation from Jadavpur University, Mandal went to Singapore for her postgrad and worked with a think-tank there. Life was good but since she had always yearned for a degree from a world-class university, she applied for a Master's at Harvard's Kennedy School.
For two years, she deferred her admission as she did not get any financial aid. She saved some money and, with a bit of aid, finally took the plunge in 2011. Foreign students in her college face an education loan cap of $30,000 ($15,000 a year), she says, making things even more difficult Mandal started looking for a job when she graduated in May 2013. But mandates that fitted her needs and aspirations were not easy to come by. She did land a contract with the World Bank but that was short term, uncertain and had no medical cover. Last month Mandal finally landed a job with an investment bank.
Despite such struggles, there are many reasons why the pursuit of overseas education among young Indians is unlikely to die down any time soon.
The Demographic Bulge
Every year, around 800,000 Indian students reportedly go overseas for their education. This costs the country close to $15 billion of forex annually, estimates industry lobby Assocham. If students are going overseas for education, it's because India has a problem of both capacity and quality. The country has one of the world's largest education infrastructures: 600 universities and 34,000 colleges with 17 million students enrolled and 5 million students graduating every year. But India is also witnessing a demographic bulge — it has perhaps the world's largest young population. Experts estimate that some 100-million-odd students will seek higher education over the next decade.
据报道,每年大约有800000名印度学生出国留学,，据印度工商业联合会估计这将耗费每年近150亿美元的外汇。学生们出国留学是因为印度不管是在教育容量还是教育质量上都有问题。印度的教育基础设施是世界上最大的教育设施之一，600所大学和34,000学院每年接受1700多万新生并输出500多万毕业生，但是我们也正见证着印度人口的爆炸性增长，印度或许有着世界上最庞大的年轻人群，专家估计在未来十年里，将有一亿多的学生寻求更高的教育。The capacity problem is compounded by the quality issue. About 70% of the capacity in India is of poor standards. At the other end of the spectrum, competitive intensity at the premier colleges is so stiff that it is often easier for bright students to get admission in Ivy League colleges in the US and the UK than in the IITs, IIMs and even top colleges in Delhi University.
All this coincides with the rise of India's aspirational upper middle class. Over the past two decades, many first-generation Indians have risen up the corporate hierarchy and are financially well-off. These welltravelled, financially stable corporate executives desire the best for their children. "They are looking for the best educational experience. They know it is a life-long asset. Indian premier colleges do not have the capacity and are very rigid," says TV Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Global Education. Pai's son studied at Stanford University in the US and now works for a start-up in Silicon Valley.
这些现象与印度上层中产阶级不断上涨的雄心壮志密切相关。在过去的二十几年里，许多第一代移民创立了自己的事业，相当富裕。这些经济稳定，见多识广的公司高管希望把最好的东西给予他们的子女。Manipal全球教育主席 Mohandas Pai说他们在为孩子寻找一流的教育，这是孩子一生的财富，印度的一流大学不能给予这些而且这些大学要求过于死板。他的孩子曾在美国斯坦福大学学习，现在在硅谷工作。
This aligns well with the global trend of rising international mobility of students. According to Institute of International Education (IIE), since 2000, the number of students leaving home in pursuit of higher education has increased by 65%, totalling about 4.3 million students globally. What is more interesting is that the share of students from the developing countries in this pie is rising — it moved up from 54.8% to 69% between 1999 and 2009.
India vs China
Not surprisingly, the world's two most populous and powerful emerging countries — China and India — send the largest number of students overseas. But China has rapidly shifted gears to overtake India.
Consider what's taking place in the US. In 2000-01, India topped the list of international students by country, with 66,836 against China's 63,211. But by 2009-10 China had overtaken India. In 2012-13, China sent 236,000 students; India was nudging the 97,000 mark. While the number of Chinese students has been growing in double digits of late, that of Indian students has been sliding. To understand why that is happening, it is important to analyze the profile of students going overseas from both the countries. 2000-2001年，美国的外国留学生中印度学生是最多的，66836人，而中国学生为63211人。但是在2009-2010年时，中国超越了印度。2012-2013年，中国向美国派遣的留学生
Chinese students going to the US are evenly split between undergraduate (40%) and postgraduate programmes (44%). But Indian students are heavily skewed towards postgraduate programmes (55%) with just 13% at the undergraduate level. Indian students are also unique as over 60% are in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) category. Bear in mind that historically, postgraduate and STEM programmes offer more financial support than undergraduate and non-STEM programmes.
"The decline in Indian students is directly related to the 'Strivers' , who have been putting their plans on hold due to increasing cost of studying abroad which in turn was triggered by economic uncertainty and currency devaluation," says Choudaha.
A majority of Indian students arrives at the Master's level and funds education by taking loans as financial aid from colleges has dried up. So, while the majority of Indian students go for education loans, Chinese students are supported by their families. According to a research by WES, 47% of Indian respondents report loans as one of the primary sources of funding as compared with only 3% of Chinese.
Chinese students, in contrast, are "explorers" (experience seekers), says Choudaha. Often the only-child of financially well-off parents, they have the financial wherewithal to study abroad and are under less pressure to find a job there. But change may be afoot. Some Indian students could make the transition from 'strivers' to 'explorers' and Choudaha expects more and more Indian students — most of them children of well-off senior executives — to go overseas at the undergraduate level. Not so dependent on financial aid, he also sees many more Indians exploring new interdisciplinary fields, beyond STEM. Even in the STEM category, experts feel that Indian students will be the biggest beneficiary as the Obama government eases rules for this critical segment in future.
Lessons from China
Two decades back, China faced problems similar to those India faces today — its higher education had both capacity and quality issues. Since then China has worked hard to upgrade its educational institutions. It has two programmes — Project 211 and Project 985. The former aims to make 100 Chinese universities world class in the 21st century; this will help China churn out world-class trained professionals to push economic growth. These universities are expected to set national standards for education quality that can be replicated by others.
Project 985 started more than a decade back and is an attempt to build China's own Ivy League colleges in the 21st century. In the first phase the project included nine universities. The second phase, launched in 2004, includes 40-odd universities. The projects have been backed by significant investments. According to a New York Times report, China is investing $250 billion a year in human capital.
The dragon country's efforts are now bearing fruit. Many Chinese universities are climbing up the global ranks. Two Chinese universities have made it to the top global 50 in the Times Higher Education report. India has none. In the top 500, 16 Chinese universities make the cut against seven from India. Mobile international students are taking note. A decade back, China was hardly on anybody's radar.
Today, it is the third largest education hub in the world after the US and the UK with 3.28 lakh international students, according to IIE. By 2020, it hopes to host 500,000 international students. Even Singapore is targeting 1.5 lakh foreign students by 2015. In contrast, India was home to just 27,000 international students in 2012. China is aware that to push innovation and realize its economic ambitions, it must be able to attract top talent — in its colleges and workforce.
Also, in virtually every key statistic, the world today is seeing a shift from the West to the East. From economic GDP to consumption power, MNCs across the board are looking at Asia and the world's two most populous nations. This shift is happening demographically too. But in the education space, the West still dominates.
Of the world's top 100 universities, 46 are in the US. Seven of top 10 universities are in the US. Asia has just 11 in the top 100. "It is difficult to replicate what US has done with its universities to 2emerge as an innovation hub," says Pai. So, ambitious and aspirational Indians will continue to look overseas for education. But if India has to realize its potential, it must invest heavily in building world-class institutions in the country — the China way.
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Skhey Mobile (Gurgaon) 22 Hours ago Foreign degree is no more a guarantee card for success.
Neil M (pune-mumbai) 22 Hours ago Finding a good university and a good course is important. I know many guys select short courses which are not recognized world wide and specially in India find it difficult to get a job. Also, dream america is not true for everyone. All the best to seekers.
Rajesh Thambala (Hyderabad, India) 23 Hours ago Very informative article.
Partha (Bangalore) 1 Day ago Nice Article. Much Appreciated
SAMAD (India) 1 Day ago right choice....
Tempcool Mukhopadhyay (India) 1 Day ago An excellent article. Appropriate and very well timed. Issue lies with inadequate job creation in India compared to passing out rate and all sorts of reservation quota for the "privileged" groups. Also unscrupulous marketing by planting misleading information by the education institutes of developed countries and their Indian agents.
Guramandeep Singh (Mexico) 1 Day ago 67 years after Independence, we are still stuck to providing reservation quotas in institutes of higher education. The recent Supreme Court order puts 27% reservation for OBCs which along with that of SCs and STs brings the total reservation to 49.5%. Here is the breakup of IIM-A seats: General 182 Non creamy OBC 104 ---- Schedule caste 58 ---- Schedule tribe 29 ---- Differently-abled 12 ---- Total 385 --- I have read various comments touching upon patriotism towards India to youngsters being crazy and the need to enlighten them. Reservation for a certain group is discrimination against the other groups. So ask yourself, is our system really fair? Should we not be looking at this objectively and trying to solve the root cause of the problem instead of commenting upon the phenomenon which is a result of a messed up education system at the behest of corrupt politicians?
ILA (Chennai) replies to Guramandeep Singh 1 Day ago Dear Learned Singh. This article has nothing to do with reservation. Reservation is about affirmative action (in US parlance). Trying to give some sort of equal opportunity to people (98%) who were subjugated, denied education, and exploited by so called Forward Castes in India who constitute only 2% of the total population for millenium. This reservation is in vogue for only 60 years how can this equation be achieved in such a short span of time. Now the Forward Castes are slowly waking up and cramming for their share in the available piece of cake. If heat is felt for this itself then what should the subjugated feel for having been so for a millenium in the name of MANU SMRITIs laws? People who believe so are as you had rightly (?) pointed out are HYPROCRITS and prisoners of their own conscience.
RM (MN) replies to ILA 9 Hours ago Excuses, excuses. Sixty years after Independence you're still making excuses for a quota system that has made Indian education into a pile of rubbish.
Athena (London) 1 Day ago It is Imperial College and not Imperial University. Perhaps ET must invest in better human capital!
(Hyderabad) 1 Day ago Same thing happened with me as well like akshay kumar. I thought i am reading my story.
Nihar (Mumbai) 1 Day ago It completely depends on which institution a person is studying in abroad. It is not so that somebody got a degree in a well recognized institution in foreign and unable to get a job in India. So I request "The Economic Times" to provide a proper interpretation to the reader.
kshi S (Bhopal) 1 Day ago coming to US was the worst decision of my life
B Venky Venky (Bangalore) 1 Day ago Very informative article. To have world class universities in India, the government should get out of the way. The quota raj in higher education has to stop. More and more private funds has to be garnered towards higher education by giving tax sops. But all this remains in the realm of fiction at the moment.
ketan m (mumbai) 1 Day ago study there, work here. sounds great!
thomas (india) 1 Day ago Yes, every Indian should go overseas for education - build up net work..learn how other s think..their style-quality etc. come back and start self employed business ... it will flourish. take example from china who are into A to Z of business and industries ,they make impossible happen...of course duly and completely supported by their govt..
Saswata mandal (kolkata) 1 Day ago still every good student wants to go abroad.. why is it like that??
Nanda Kumar (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) replies to Saswata mandal 1 Day ago ET pointed it out already..Global Exposure! and Farther mountains always seem smoother :)
Anupam (Bangalore) replies to Saswata mandal 1 Day ago Quick money
Mumbaikar (Mumbai) 1 Day ago It's not entirely the kids fault - some ambitious parents push out the kids too - 'we don't think there is a future here', they say. Now, some are stuck abroad and need to return home, as countries are on an economic downturn and/or are looking more inward now, . Complicated situation - but opportunities are here too, if you want to grab them. Not everything here is as bad as you may think.
Bharath Selvan Sukumaran (Chennai) 1 Day ago Good news for India. Let their knowledge be used for Indians in India
jgsemig (Delhi110007) 2 Days ago what about large numbers of foreign students studying in India? How could IIM-B professor be so insensitive? In a global world does this mean that Indian educational Institutions have already thrown in their towels? Does it also mean that Universities like SAARC and others have no futures?
也有很多外国学生在印度留学啊。 为什么印度管理学院班加罗尔分校(Indian Institutes of Management) 的教授们这么愚钝。从全球范围来看，是不是这就意味着印度的教育机构已经宣布投降了？类似南亚区域合作联盟（South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation）这类的学校就没有前途了吗？
Sriram B (Bharat) 2 Days ago Learn Globally and be back to improve India. Just as they say wait till the last ball is bowled in a cricket frenzy country; do not lose hope till you have tried your hands on what you want to transform the country into.
Ajay Kumar (NYC) 2 Days ago Only the people who have earned admissions into Indian Universities based on reservations, face problems studying abroad, as they are looking for concessions always. People who have earned admissions throughout based on their capability and knowledge, do not face any problem. Such students do not come back.
Ayush Jha (NOIDA) 2 Days ago Study in the US(OUT OF INTEREST in the field and/or spectrum, NOT parental pressure/peer pressure) , Work to repay the loans & then do your own startup in India. All the best :)
Mukesh Mishra (Haridwar) 2 Days ago It didn't work. My good grades made me eligible for plenty of jobs, but my non-European Indian passport was the problem," he shrugs.
Ashwani Kaushal (New Delhi) 2 Days ago righly said, getting an addmission in DU colleages are like dreaming in day time.... it is always good to go abroad and get certification and return back... but once the indian student get a better envoironment and facility abroad why they come back to corrupt indian culture, only few with family business background will come to share the same plateform with their parental company ....shamful for Indian corruption
Parthipan K (Chennai) 2 Days ago I agree with the fact that Indian Universities are not flexible. But intelligent students can acquire knowledge of any subjects of their own. So they should not blame Indian Universities. More over, not all institutes in abroad are of high standards. Even in Ivy schools, the standards are coming down like our IITs. My opinion is that if one works hard in Indian top universities, they can acquire global standards. Also all the premier institutes in US are putting their course material in the web and hence, by going thru them one can acquire high knowledge.
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