#February 2017, #The Americas, #India-US, #December 2017

There are not too many countries towards whom the new United States President, Donald Trump, has shown a consistently friendly demeanour. India is one of them.

As Trump told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his most recent phone conversation to New Delhi, he saw India as a “true friend”. India is seen, strategically, as a kindred spirit by President Trump and his team.

#April 2017, #Last Word

India has a major stake in the political tremors around the world.

Any fault line is worrying. Even more so is the fact that we seem to be living in a world criss-crossed by such fissures, some overlapping and others not so. Any one of the them could set off tremors or even earthquakes of proportions unprecedented since the end of the Second World War.

#February 2017, #Sector Focus/Pharma

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is holding on to a sliver of hope that it could become the supplier of choice for the US market.

Indian IT sector CEOs aren’t the only ones weighing every word uttered by US President Donald Trump for nuances and burning the midnight oil wondering how to maintain their lead in their largest market.

#June 2017, #Last Word

The Indian PM’s visit to Washington will be crucial to determine how much the US President is in a mood to listen.

The Indian political leadership has, since Independence, rooted for a multi-polar world. Now, with Donald Trump’s US voluntarily pulling back from its role as world’s peace keeper of last resort, India is close to being granted its 70-year-old wish.

#2016, #India-US, #Yearend 2016

India will do well to take the initiative in correcting the anomalous situation of Indo-US B2B relations and take some immediate steps to project itself as a willing and receptive partner for a Trump presidency, writes a foreign policy expert.

Donald Trump, the first billionaire, to have been elected POTUS, defied all pollsters’ forecasts and cleavages in the Republican party by striking a chord with US voters anxious about their future in a rapidly changing world.

#2016, #India-US, #Yearend 2016

India will adopt a wait and watch policy on the new US President-elect until there is greater clarity on issues of importance.

The world is still trying to come with a Donald Trump presidency in the US. Pick up any newspaper or switch on any current affairs channel anywhere in the world and the hot topic is what the chief executive-elect of the world’s most powerful country means for (depending on which city you are in) the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Pact, ties with Russia, the war in Syria, the Pivot to the East, immigration and outsourcing.

#Putting it in Context, #2016, #Yearend 2016

The year that began with lots of hope is drawing to a close on a note of concern and some cautious optimism. In between, there was shock, some not so pleasant surprises and renewed promise of a better future. It’s always a huge risk to pre-judge history but I think I’ll still go out on a limb and declare that when the definitive history of globalisation is written, 2016 will stand out as the year in which the idea of the flat world, the global village and the credo of freer and fairer markets and open borders (for trade in goods at least) suffered several body blows.

#October 2017, #Last Word

India takes a tough stand on the Trump administration’s visa crackdown.

It’s two steps forward and one step back – once again. We’re talking of Indo-US relations here and the rollercoaster it has been riding on since Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House.

The latest irritant to mark the otherwise warm relationship between the two countries is the tightening of rules for issuing H1B and L1 visas. A new directive issued by the Trump administration recently made it more difficult for such visa holders to apply for renewal by transferring the burden of proof on the applicant when an extension is sought.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in jobs that need expertise that is not easily and readily available in the US. US technology companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Facebook, Google and others hire thousands of foreign professionals every year on this visa.

Indian IT professionals are the biggest recipients and the country’s tech industry is the major beneficiary of these two visa categories. The US accounts for 60 per cent of the Indian IT sector’s annual revenues of about $150 billion. That is why a smooth US visa regime is vitally important for its health.

The US move is in keeping with Donald Trump’s election promise to protect American workers from being replaced by cheaper foreign professionals.

Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu has said he will take up the issue of H1B and L1 visas “very strongly” with the US administration and added that US companies and, indeed, the US economy, which benefited immensely from the services of Indian H1B and L1 visa holders, will find it difficult to cope without them.

“We explained to them that we are not raising this issue because Indians will find it difficult to come, because the US economy itself will find it difficult to cope with the reality because the US has immensely benefited by IT professionals penetrating into the market by offering services that has improved their productivity,” he said.

Prabhu has a very strong case. Contrary to popular perception, India’s information technology companies are net job creators in the US and add tremendous value to the US economy.

A report by Nasscom, released in 2015, pointed out that the much-maligned Indian IT sector supported more than 400,000 jobs in the US and contributed more than $20 billion in federal taxes over the previous five years.
Another study by the Brookings Institute has also belied the myth that cheaper Indian professionals are snatching jobs from qualified Americans in the US. The study points out that most Indian workers on H1B visas generally earn more than comparable US workers with similar educational qualifications.

Indian tech companies create and protect jobs in the US in the following ways:

  • They provide US businesses with advanced IT services and support, which help US companies maintain their global competitiveness, enter new markets, gain market share and remain profitable
  • Indian companies such Wipro, Infosys, TCS have invested billions of dollars in setting up facilities in the US and created thousands of direct jobs there
  • Indian companies directly employ about 100,000 US citizens and support jobs for three times as many Americans
  • Over the last four years, job creation by India’s information technology companies in the US grew 10 per cent annually, compared to a 1.7 per cent overall job growth in that country.

But rational arguments often get drowned out in the din of political rhetoric. And that is precisely what is happening. Even as the Indian government takes up the issue with the US administration, the visa imbroglio should serve as a wake-up call to India and its IT sector.

Worryingly, a substantial portion of its revenues still come from relatively lower end work, which give steady margins, but which can no longer generate high levels of growth. And despite their best efforts, these companies have failed to move up the software services value chain.

It may also be time for the Indian IT sector to set its own house in order and secure its future.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

#2016, #October 2016, #Last Word

If one goes by the views of the expat Indian community in the US, it’s a settled debate. A recent survey says an overwhelming 87 per cent of Indian Americans support Clinton, while a minuscule 6 per cent back Trump.

But a more detailed analysis of where they stand on issues of importance to India shows that the issue may not be as simple as that.

#February 2017, #Putting it in context

Donald Trump and his fellow travellers in Europe are doing their countries a disservice by recklessly pulling up the drawbridge on immigration.

Everyone knows that whenever their fortresses and castles came under siege, kings of old would pass the order to pull up the drawbridges and every able man would take up position to repel the invaders. And most of you will be familiar with the story of Don Quixote, the fictional medieval Spanish nobleman, who attacked windmills under the delusion that they were dangerous enemies.

Combine these two narratives and you get a very disturbing picture of the present and the future.