#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

#August 2017, #The Americas

Donald Trump’s ambivalence on economic and strategic issues concerning India is coming in the way of taking bilateral ties to the next level.

If India and the US were Facebook friends, then many in the Indian establishment would be justified in describing the relationship as “It’s complicated.”



India is a “major defence ally” of the US, the economic relationship is vibrant, at least on the face of it, Washington has reiterated its support for India to be admitted into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) as a full member and public statements by senior government officials on both sides continue to exude warmth.

#April 2017, #Sector Focus/IT

Automation in the global IT industry threatens to disrupt the sector in -India but it may be a blessing in heavy disguise. For the stagnant industry, robots may pave the way for the next round of growth.

On March 19, news reports suggested Cognizant, the New-Jersey headquartered software services firm may fire between 6,000-10,000 workers in its bid to reduce redundant and non-performing workers. As the news spread and doomsday predictions started ringing, the firm’s spokesperson sought to cool frayed nerves stating this was part of the company’s annual appraisal process when the bad apples are weeded out.

#February 2017, #India & China

An assertive China presents Prime Minister Modi with his most intractable foreign policy challenge, but there are indications that Beijing may be getting a little edgy.

China considered itself to be a rival of the US. In its world view, India was a regional player, at best the first among equals in South Asia.

David vs Goliath

In absolute terms, there is some merit in this argument. China’s $11.4-trillion economy, the world’s second largest, is five times India’s, which is world’s sixth largest, with a GDP of $2.3 trillion in 2016.

Last year, China’s per capita income, at $8,260, was five times the comparable figure of $1,718 for India. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of goods, its biggest trading nation and its military budget, at $131 billion is more than three times larger than India’s annual defence spending of $40 billion.

#February 2017, #The Americas

Just days after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th US President, there is much upheaval around his series of unilateral executive orders. There is yet another draft reportedly awaiting his signature, which could hit Indian professionals hard.

American billionaire Donald J. Trump marked his first days in the Oval Office in characteristic style by signing some of the most controversial executive orders in history.

The suspension of the US refugee programme for 120 days and a cap on 2017 numbers came alongside a ban on anyone arriving from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The instant effect was felt at airports in the US and around the world, as people were stopped from boarding US-bound flights or held when they landed in the US.

#May/June 2016, #2016, #UK/EU

The Indian ICT industry has been a flag-bearer for the country, especially in the UK and Europe. NIIT Technologies, as a leading player in the field, is well placed to give an overview of the successes and challenges. The firm’s Europe in-charge weighs up the market, how it has evolved over the years and if the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) is likely to have any significant impact on the industry.

#US Election, #2016, #October 2016

Indian IT companies help US companies retain their global competitive edge. This is just one reason why it must roll back visa curbs on Indian IT professionals, argues ‘India Global Business’.

The trickle of bad news buffeting the Indian IT sector is slowly gaining critical mass. Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant, three leading software exporters, have cut their annual revenue guidance to 8.4 per cent from 12 per cent, citing macro-economic factors such as falling ticket sizes of deals, Brexit and a frustrating inability to scale up the skill sets of their workforce.

#2016, #October 2016, #Sector Focus

R. Chandrasekhar is the president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), the premier trade body for the Indian IT-BPO sector. In this exclusive interview with ‘India Global Business’, the former Secretary in the Indian government’s Department of Telecommunications delves into the trends in the industry, the future of robotics and how the Indian information technology sector can remain ahead of the curve.

#2016, #October 2016, #Sector Focus

The Indian IT sector must reskill its workforce and move up the value chain if it wants to retain its dominant position in the world as well as its double digit growth rates.

On July 15, 2016 a sombre looking Vishal Sikka, the CEO and MD of Infosys Ltd, India’s second largest exporter of IT services announced the company’s first quarterly results. While revenue and profit were below market expectations, what surprised many was the downward revision of annual revenue growth forecast. Markets were swift to mete out punishment. The shares of the company crashed by about 10 per cent in a single trading session, wiping out nearly $3.5 billion in market capitalisation.