Immigration as a Choice: Time to Dream BIG for Nepal

Arun Sharma

Since the dawn of civilization, humans as creature have traveled to distant lands in search first for survival and then for a better life. Homo sapiens migrated from Africa to India about seventy thousand years ago and to America from Asia about twelve thousand years ago through land bridges connecting Alaska with Asia. The driver for human migration was search for food, water and escape from the threat of hostile weather including volcanic eruptions and hot harsh desert climates. Languages developed some fifty thousand years ago.

In 1775 Asia was the richest continent with 80% of global economy (China and India accounted for 67% of trade and production) by 1950 post World War II, Europe and the USA took share of 50% and today the USA alone has 45% global wealth with about 16% of  population. In recent times USA, Europe and Australia have become the target for global migration.  The pursuits of   job/career and wealth opportunities will continue to be a motivation for global migration. At home, lack of jobs (estimated 50% unemployment) and poor wages accounts for about 2500 Nepalis leaving home every day mostly to Gulf and other countries as unskilled labors. The younger female leaving for Japan and Korea is a recent trend. Nepal’s migration to India and other countries is as old as British rule in India which is about two centuries old.

“Over the past ten years, immigrants represented 47% of the increase in the workforce in the United States, and 70% in Europe (OECD, 2012). Since 2000/01, immigrants have represented 31% of the increase in the highly educated labor force in Canada, 21%in the United States and 14% in Europe.” United States reports: skilled immigrants contribute to “boosting research and innovation, as well as technological progress.” (Hunt, 2010) “In the past decade (skilled worker migration is up by about 70%), reaching almost 30 million in 2010/11. Of these, about 5 million, or 17%, arrived only past five years ago.” This trend is mostly driven by Asian migration – more than 2 million educated migrants originating from this region arrived in North America and Europe in the past five years (OECD-UNDESA, 2013).”

One of the challenges Nepal faces is how to turn this exodus of migration to educated, skilled and computer efficient manpower to infuse them into well rewarded knowledge driven global workforce:  a challenge Nepal must embark upon! How will that be done? The policy makers and politicians MUST seriously contemplate and focus on quality of skill-based education in science, technology, medicine, and health care, computer skilled manpower including mechanics, electricians and health workers. India’s Indian Institute of Technology and All India Institute of Medical Sciences are good examples. Nehru’s efforts and dream is finally paying off as India now is the fifth largest economy in the globe and highest recipient of remittance income with 112 billion and China being second with about one half of that.  Nepal’s recent remittance 9 B is 22% of GDP, it could be much bigger if planned.

“As per the UN’s International Organization for Migration, 281 million people, or 3.6% of the world’s population, made up the international migrant population in 2020.” Immigration over the past few decades continues to rise from developing nations to advanced countries for highly educated immigrants in science, technology and also in business fields. Nepal needs to supply such knowledge driven boundary breakers to domestic and global destinations and help change the state of domestic infrastructure to the current level of current levels just as China is so rapidly doing.

The benefits of immigration extend well beyond the individual’s self-benefits (education, income, skill gains and welfare of the next generation) and promotes mutual benefits both for the country of origin and the new destinations. Skilled migrants act as a link for variety of international exchanges, technology transfers, improve quality in education, trade, investments, finance and knowledge-based entrepreneurship. One such remarkable experience  the author has  personally witnessed is, where a successful Taiwanese immigrant to the USA, Morris Chang (Stanford Ph.D.) after having extensive experience in America rose to the level of Executive Vice President at Texas Instruments (The very first technology company that hired me in the USA). Not being awarded the coveted President’s position he chose to return to his home country and started Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) in 1987. Today after three decades TSMC’s sales at 75B USD it is 20% higher that the world’s most prestigious micro-chip manufacturer Intel with quality equally good is a remarkable achievement. Just one such company in Nepal will simply more than double Nepal 36 B USD budget and one such venture can transform a nation.  Right here in Nepal there are numerous examples where the returnees have opened largest medical facilities, hotel chains, resorts, restaurants, travel agencies, global cyber Security Company, pharmaceutical, drinking water venture etc. I have met Nepalis who work for NASA without leaving home and Japanese automobile company in Nepal remotely. Numerous Nepalis with computer skills are running small businesses where their subcontract programming and graphic design work while living at home. Amazingly it is ALL possible! All it takes one man’s VISION, Dream and LEADERSHIP that can transform a nation and even the world. My own mantra after I returned back home has been. “Dream BIG” as your novel IDEA may possibly change YOU and your nation for ever. It is well known that Britain’s Prime Minister is a third-generation Indian immigrant, Kamala Harris the American Vice President is a first-generation American daughter of Indian immigrant in their adopted country and returnees are investing in technology companies.

India is an example!

With India’s 112 B, contributing over 20% of India’s total foreign exchange reserves, including several computer software companies’ startups it  is recognized as a global developer in computer software fields. The remittance and return of resources significantly influence GDP support diversification   in income and savings and investments.

Brain gain, or having access to technical data from the country’s immigrant returnees, is another remarkable advantage of immigration. Immigrants channel a great deal of expertise back home because they are adept at communicating knowledge in their area of expertise.

India’s IT revolution typically gives an insight into the brain gain narrative because as following the collapse of the dot-com global bubble, large number of  IT professionals from India  were compelled to return home and, ignited numerous startups with innovative businesses, farming methods, and economic enterprises.

Immigration also helps economy by curbing domestic unemployment, boosting earnings reducing pressure on natural resources, and increasing productivity and additional financial accesses.

The immigrants are launching new companies at twice the rate of native-born Americans and creating large numbers of jobs in the USA. In fact, immigrants help grow the economy by filling labor needs, purchasing goods and paying taxes as reported. When more people work, productivity increases.

“Immigrants are innovators, job creators, and consumers with an enormous spending power that drives US economy, and creates employment opportunities for all Americans. Immigrants added $2 trillion to the U.S. GDP in 2016 and $458.7 billion to state, local, and federal taxes in 2018. The immigrants spent billions of dollars on state and local, and federal taxes, they were left with $1.2 trillion in spending power, which they used to purchase goods and services, stimulating local business activity,” (2018 Report from the USA)

It’s about time we dream BIG for Nepal so it does NOT remain a poorest nation in this continent. All it takes is: visionary, committed and futuristic LEADERSHIP!

(Arun Sharma is a technology engineer and writer with seven published books.)