Historically, many graduates of the IITs moved to the US or other countries to complete post graduate studies or to launch their careers. Among those who graduated between 1964 and 2001, 35 per cent left India. But among those who graduated in 2002 or later, only 16 per cent moved, according to the survey, carried out by Evaluserve, a research and analytics firm.
Of those who graduated before 2002, 60 per cent viewed developed countries as the destinations with the best career opportunities. However, from 2002 onwards the trend is reversed with 51 per cent of respondents considering India to be a better location for building a good career. Of 2006 graduates only 10 per cent wanted to find work abroad. The answers relate to preferences at the time of graduation.
The point of inflexion in 2002 is the year when the Indian economy took off, with growth between 8 and 9 per cent growth a year in real terms since then.
From 1964 to 2001, 30 per cent of IIT graduates went to the US, while only 9 per cent did (or say they will do so) from 2002 to 2008. The reasons for staying at home are not only related to improved conditions in India: of the graduates from 2002 to 2007 who said they wanted to move to the US when they graduated 35 per cent did not go, citing reasons including stricter visa regulations, high cost of living, limited numbers of scholarships, high tuition fees and reduced employment opportunities.
Of all respondents, 68 per cent now live in India, 25 per cent the US, 2 per cent the UK, 1 per cent China and 4 per cent elsewhere. The total number of graduates produced by the IITs since the early 1960s is around 130,000.
The survey also shows IIT graduates are expanding their career choices beyond traditional engineering and technology opportunities. There has been a marked shift towards consulting and financial services, and many have entrepreneurial aspirations.
This is significant because in the early days of IT offshoring, India was seen as a destination to export grunt work like programming. As India’s IT companies have internationalised they have moved further up the value chain into systems design and implementation and consultancy.