The brain drain in Sri Lanka is evident and cannot be disputed. I am part of it. Looking back, most of my batch mates from college as well as high school are scattered across the four corners of the world. Not that they don’t love their country of birth or that they are unpatriotic; but alas it is not possible to survive.
Let’s review some of the main reasons behind this.
“My bags are packed and ready to go…. Cuz I’m leaving on a jet plan. Don’t know when I’ll be back again.”
Earning power: This is an obvious one but it links together everything else. Whatever reason you bring out later on, it will always come back to this. After all Sri Lanka is a paradise island and if you have the money there is no other place that can even come close.
Everyone has a dream to start a family, own a nice house, have a car or two, go out for dinner and be able to enjoy life a little. Go to the beach, maybe the hill country a little. It’s a nice dream to have. The key word there being “Dream”.
Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves. Unless you have family wealth or have a thriving business you cannot even dream peacefully of owning a nice house in a nice neighborhood. What is the salary of the average professional in Sri Lanka these days? Going by what I remember 3 years ago, it was anywhere in the range of 35 starting to about 60-70 thousand rupees after a few years of experience. If you’re lucky and work for a foreign company etc… maybe a little higher.
Can you afford to buy a car with this salary? A basic Honda Civic is over 2 million rupees! Even if you are earning 60 thousand a month that is over 3 years of salary if you save every single cent you make and put it towards the car.
Do we even have to talk about buying a house after that? What about average living costs? The cost of living is so high, that supermarket prices in Sri Lanka compare to those in New York!
New York is the most expensive city in the United States. How can you expect the average Sri Lankan to survive when the average New Yorker earning in Dollars find it hard to survive in New York.
Everyone wants to have a good life, If some other place is able to offer this to them, they will take it. If we are to stop this from happening, the cost of living HAS to come down so that the professionals of Sri Lanka have no need to go elsewhere to live a good life. If this happens we will see this country of ours prosper like it’s never done before.
There are pre-requisites for this:= An end to the war that is going on is the biggest of them. What I have stated above was true for the longest of times, but these days even if you have the best of lives in Sri Lanka most people prefer to move anyways for the safety of their lives.
Germany saw a huge brain drain during the world war two period where many European scientists (many of whom either Jewish or were opposed to Nazism) fled to the United States. The same is happening and has been happening to Sri Lanka.
I for one would love to see a secure Sri Lanka in the course of my lifetime. We have after all some of the most brilliant minds out there.