#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

#COVER FEATURE, #October 2017

Resource-poor but demand-rich Indian companies are prospecting and mining natural resources such as coal, oil & gas and other minerals at locations as far apart as Indonesia, Africa, Australia and the US to feed their factories back home.

Here’s a trivia question: Which Indian company has a presence, in one form or another, in Audi, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Ferrari, Jaguar and Hyundai cars?

Don’t let the presence of Jaguar on that list fool you. The answer is not Tata. It is that other name that is often taken in the same breath as the Tatas in India – Birla… or, to be more precise, the Aditya Birla group-owned aluminium company Novelis.

#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.

#August 2017, #The Americas

A new publication and web resource on India-US relations delves into a new era of multi-dimensional bilateral ties.

“The relationship between India and America has overcome the ‘hesitations of history’.” This was a statement made by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, at his joint address to the US Congress in 2016.

The “hesitation” refers to the phase where in a bipolar Cold War era India decided to adopt a foreign policy of non-alignment and India’s weak economy pre-1991 wasn’t helping the American cause either. Nevertheless, the relationship has now moved far away from that “hesitation” and in the last two decades has become reflective of what Undersecretary Nicholas Burns of the Bush administration had predicted: “Within a generation many Americans may view India as one of the most important strategic partners”.

#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.

#June 2017, #The Americas

The US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord will not have much impact on the fight against global warming as India and others take the lead in embracing renewable energy.

Just as US President Donald Trump’s repudiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership provided Chinese President Xi Jinping the opportunity to present himself as the prime defender of the globalised trading order, the US walkout of the Paris Climate Pact has presented Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the rare chance of presenting India as the leader of the global fight against climate change.

#June 2017, #The Americas

US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord may be a chance for India to shine, writes an energy expert.

Trump’s pullout from the Paris Accord on climate change has brought India to the fore. Two claims are especially puzzling. One, the treaty lets India (and China) not do much till 2030, and that India is looking for developed countries to pay them $2.5 trillion for its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). India’s NDC calculations were taken with their own calculations, and have very little to do with the US (or any other country).

#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.

#April 2017, #Special Edition – May 2017, #The Americas, #THE AMERICAS

As the Donald Trump administration begins to deliver on his poll promise of cracking down on the alleged misuse of H1B visas, Indian IT companies are feeling the pinch.

Donald Trump’s election rhetoric is returning to bite the Indian IT sector as policy formulations of the new US administration.

First, here are some updates on the bad news on H1B visas, the visa category mainly used by Indian IT companies to ship Indian IT professionals to the US.