Nepali Brain Drain



The Nepal Times recently reported that there are more than 350,000 Nepalese living and working in just two countries, Australia and Portugal. In 2023, there were more than 20,000 Nepalis holding study permit in Canada. In Portugal, Nepalese are said to comprise the biggest immigrant group in the south European nation.

Every day, 3,000 Nepalis leave the country, and nearly 1 million left last year. Migrant workers in the Gulf, Malaysia and India mostly return. But a majority of Nepali youth leaving for the United States, Europe, Canada or Australia are emigrants. 

Successive governments in Nepal have failed to stop this brain (and brawn) drain, treating migration as a convenient social safety valve and relying on remittances as a critical source of support for the economy.

Nepali Times

The Nepali Times says that successive Nepali government officials have ignored such a brain drain because of the immigrant remittances as a critical source of support for the economy. “Nearly a quarter of Nepal’s GDP equivalent comes from overseas remittances, higher than most labour-exporting countries. This is an indicator of a stagnant economy. Most of the money goes into paying for basic needs, and property investment.”

For most aspirational middle-class Nepalis, migration is the only outlet. Frustration adds to this, there are long queues to pay taxes, get a driver’s license…and then there is the huge wage disparity between Nepal and elsewhere.

– Swarnim Wagle, an Economist (source: Nepali Times)

Poor employment opportunities in Nepal drive most high school students aspire to pursue higher education abroad and reside there. Some rural parents even pay up to Rs7 million to human traffickers to take their children to America through the backdoor, writes the Times.

It is not the government’s job to create jobs but strengthen the private sector to do so. The private sector is responsible for 80% of jobs in the country and that is still not enough. The private sector does not necessarily mean big companies, and they need help to grow and create jobs. Only when people have economic stability and security will they come back home.

– Shrinkhala Khatiwada (source: Nepali Times)

A few Nepalese have returned to Nepal from abroad and have started some business, such as a dairy farm in Gulmi, bell pepper farming in Dang, and a resort in Pokhara, the Times reports.

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