Why has President Donald J. Trump tightened H1B temporary work visa requirements with an executive order calling for "Buy American, Hire American"? How will it impact India, the biggest beneficiary of the lion's share of the 85,000 US H1B visas issued each year? Are these visas being abused to bring in lower paid foreign workers to replace American workers? How will India respond? Will the Indian government retaliate against US products/services imported by India as suggested by the Indian trade minister Nirmala Sitharaman? How will India deal with similar other restrictions on temporary work visas recently announced by Australia, New Zealand and other industrialized nations?
What took President Trump's National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan? Why did Mr. Trump announce his request for increased US aid to Pakistan just prior to General McMaster's South Asia trip? Did General McMaster threaten Pakistan to "cooperate or else" as being reported by the Afghan and the Indian media?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Panama Leaks: Did Musharraf Steal People's Money?
India Files H1B Visa Complaint Against US to WTO Amid Falling Exports
H1B Visa Abuse by Indian Body Shops
Gen H.R. McMaster's Appointment as NSA
Impact of Trump Appointment on US Domestic and Foreign Policy
Talk4Pak Youtube Channel
Indian IT industry’s past sins threaten its future
The inability of India’s IT services exporters, like TCS, Infosys and Wipro among others, to upscale their skills and their wares has led up to the current crisis
India’s beleaguered $150 billion IT services industry is facing an existential crisis following its discovery that US president Donald Trump did mean to go through with his pre-election threats to review a critical tool of its trade, H1B visas. This comes on top of the erosion of its competitive edge by automation and robotics. Already, the layoffs have started as projects get trimmed and margins take a hit.
Predictably, India’s software services exporters are in a state of paralysis in the face of these threats. Lacking a well-honed, long-term strategy to cope with the political and economic forces aligned against it, the industry has responded timidly—petitioning and invoking contributions to the US economy and producing numbers to state its case. This hasn’t cut much ice with the Trump administration, which has gone through with an executive order even while promising more draconian measures to protect American jobs. Contrast that with his kids-glove treatment of China. All his threats of naming the country as a currency manipulator before the elections seem to have been silenced once the reality of possible Chinese retaliation hit home.
The Indian software services industry is a custodian not merely of its own fortunes but that of the future of an entire nation. Even as industry leaders Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd examine the impact of these recent setbacks on their bottom lines, concluding mostly that it will be marginal, there is a far bigger issue at stake. India’s success in software services exports has given it a unique competitive strength. In an increasingly digital world, India has the manpower and the head-start needed to build the kind of global position that, for instance, Germany has in engineering or before that Britain built with its naval fleet.
But as management guru Michael Porter warned, the competitive advantage of nations isn’t an inheritance on which a country has a perpetual lien. It is something a country needs to keep working on through innovation. In his original piece in 1990 for the Harvard Business Review, The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Porter wrote: “Ultimately, the only way to sustain a competitive advantage is to upgrade it—to move to more sophisticated types.”
By sitting back and continuing to rely on its cost-based arbitrage model for over two decades, the software industry has placed in jeopardy not merely its own fortunes but that of India too. Those who think that Trump’s executive order notwithstanding, it will be business as usual in the hallways of business processing offices in Bengaluru and Gurugram, might want to take a look at the recent and not-so-recent past.
The fate of India’s auto components industry, once touted as a potential world beater, is a good reminder. Despite its promising beginnings, India’s share in global exports has remained stuck below 1% over the last decade, as component makers failed to scale up and deal with the realities of a changing market. As a consequence, the value of auto component exports increased from $5.1 billion in FY09 to $10.8 billion in FY16 (according to data from the India Brand Equity Foundation), way below the sector’s Vision 2015 target of $33 billion set by the Auto Component Manufacturers’ Association back in 2003-04.
#India's #IT giants are laying off employees. And the worst is yet to come. #H1B #Wipro #Infosys #TCS http://www.dailyo.in/politics/it-sector-unemployment-layoffs-cognizant-wipro/story/1/17146.html … via @dailyo_
The $150-billion Indian IT sector has not just been an important contributor to the country's GDP and global exports, but has also been at the vanguard of white-collar job creation in an otherwise jobless growth of the past two decades.
For years, campuses across India have relied on the mass hiring by the likes of Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant, etc as the placement hub for India's large crop of engineers. But, of late, the sun has stopped shining on the sector. Major recruiters like Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant have been seen significant reduction in their workforce. The bad news though is that the worst is yet to come.
For various reasons, we may see massive layoffs in the IT sector. Here's why:
1. The rise of automation
Over the past few years, automation has gathered pace and, in the coming time, it promises to replace many jobs, especially of repetitive and mundane nature.
The competitive advantage in favour of automation has been increasing with technological advancement reducing cost, improving performance and wider applicability becoming possible. The Indian IT sector faces a serious challenge from automation as the nature of most jobs here is "mundane". Besides, human discretion and intelligence are low enough to be easily replaced by automation.
2. 'Freeze' on hiring Indians abroad
India's abundant labour force had made it less expensive to hire Indian expats for projects abroad. But the tide has turned against this trend with US proposing to raise the minimum income requirement for H1B visa to $130,000 from existing $60,000. Australia, Singapore and many other popular lucrative markets too have introduced procedural changes making life difficult for Indians. Getting a work visa has been made both time-consuming and costly.
This will affect one of the most lucrative opportunities that our IT workforce enjoyed, and make it more difficult to employ middle-level employees whose higher salary expectations are difficult to fulfil within India in an industry, where mass hiring at the bottom (to keep the cost low) is the norm.
3. Rises of protectionist politics in US, Europe
The rise of protectionist politics in advanced economies has increased the pressure on companies there to outsource contracts to local companies, instead of firms in India. This is making growth prospect more difficult for Indian IT companies.
The proposed reduction in corporation taxation in the US as well as France will also further incentivise more of the IT big shots to shift back some, if not a major portion, operation back to the US. All this again doesn't bode well for jobs in the Indian IT sector.
4. Corporate governance and Indian IT brands
Indian IT's fabled rise was built on the foundation of outstanding corporates who won the trust and respect of their stakeholders at home and abroad through admirable corporate governance.
But even as the industry needs the goodwill in these difficult times, the Indian IT bellwether have had a rather tough time negotiating corporate governance troubles.
While TCS has seen Tata Sons being mired in a dirty and ugly boardroom struggle, Infosys, after years of being led by unsatisfactory successors to its founders, found a decent performer in Vishal Sikka. But the respite seems short-lived as the current leadership has been engaged in a power-cum-perception struggle against Infosys old guard, notably Narayana Murthy, who has levelled and repeated some serious charges against the present leadership.
5. Sluggish global economy and low demand
As such, the big ticket projects are far fewer in number now with the global economy slowing compared to the initial decade of the millennium when Indian IT sector came of age.
#India's tech sector downsizes heavily as #Trump’s #H1B temp worker visa policy creates uncertainty
Technology companies in India are in the midst of a massive restructuring drive that has both employees and industry analysts worried over the future of the sector.
Information Technology companies like Infosys, Cognizant and Tech Mahindra have announced redundancies this year and some analysts have said that this string of layoffs are expected to continue for the next two years.
A recent report from McKinsey India says that at least 200,000 software engineers in India will lose their jobs each year over the next three years.
According to local media reports, tech giant Infosys had earlier announced its plans to lay off about 1,000 employees at senior levels based on performance-based processes, the company also then announced its plans to hire 10,000 Americans over the next two years – a move many analysts have said will please U.S. President Donald Trump. Following this move, other companies such as Cognizant announced their plans to cut 6,000 jobs.
"With the majority of their business coming from US-based clients, it seems like a natural step for Indian IT companies to expand and strengthen their client offering in a market that promises sustained growth. This will undoubtedly benefit U.S. workers and sing to the tune of Trump's America First strategy," Af Malhotra, co-founder of Bangalore-based IT firm GrowthEnabler, told CNBC via email.
U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda and focus on curbing immigration especially around the much-sought-after H-1B visa policy may hurt India's massive information technology sector that forms a strong base for the country's economy.
Data from Goldman Sachs estimates that Indians accounted for nearly 195,257, or 70.1 percent, of all beneficiaries of the H-1B visa program in 2015. And hence, President Trump's decision to steer his policies towards "America First" is clearly going to hurt these professionals as well as Indian software companies. But there are divergent views on whether the redundancies in India by major IT companies have anything to do with Trump's policies.
"It does not seem like Indian companies are laying off in India so they can hire in the US," an IT-professional based in the U.S. told CNBC on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic. "The IT sector has been struggling, these companies have been having poor disappointing earnings/lower guidance for a few quarters now and that is probably the primary driver."
#US #lawmakers urge #Trump to press #India's #Modi on #trade, #investment. #ModiMeetsTrump #H1B http://reut.rs/2tHbrAR via @Reuters
Leading U.S. congressmen have called on President Donald Trump to press Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove barriers to U.S. trade and investment when they meet for the first time on Monday.
The lawmakers, from the Republican and Democratic parties, said in a letter to Trump that high-level engagement with India had failed to eliminate major trade and investment barriers and had not deterred India from imposing new ones.
"Many sectors of the Indian economy remain highly and unjustifiably protected, and India continues to be a difficult place for American companies to do business," they wrote, noting that a 2017 World Bank report ranked India 130th out of 190 countries for ease of doing business.
The lawmakers - Republican House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Ranking Member Richard Neal, and Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ranking Member Ron Wyden - said the bilateral economic relationship "severely underperforms" as a result of India's failure to enact market-based reforms.
They said the barriers covered multiple sectors and included high tariffs, inadequate protection of intellectual property rights, and inconsistent and non-transparent licensing and regulatory practices.
Among U.S. goods affected were solar and information technology products, telecommunications equipment and biotechnology products, they said.
The lawmakers also pointed to limitations on foreign participation in professional services, restrictive foreign equity caps for financial, retail, and other major services sectors and barriers to digital trade and Internet services.
"The list is long and growing," they said.
Modi is due to meet with about 20 leading U.S. CEOs in Washington on Sunday before his first meeting with Trump on Monday at the White House, when he will seek to revitalize ties that have appeared to drift, in spite of the priority they were afforded under former President Barack Obama.
While progress is expected in defense trade and cooperation, Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" platform has been irritated by the growing U.S. trade deficit with India and has called for reform of the H1B visa system that has benefited Indian tech firms.
Other signs of friction have included Trump accusing New Delhi of negotiating unscrupulously at the Paris climate talks to walk away with billions in aid.
Indian officials reject suggestions that Modi's "Make in India" platform is protectionist and complain about the U.S. regulatory process for generic pharmaceuticals and rules on fruit exports to the United States.
They stress the future importance of the huge Indian market to U.S. firms and major growth in areas such as aviation which will offer significant opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.
‘Over-invoicing by power companies’: PIL in Delhi HC seeks SIT probe against firms
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is currently investigating over a dozen firms, including firms of the Adani Group, Essar Group and Reliance ADAG Group, among others for alleged over valuation of Indonesian coal imports and power equipment imports between 2011 and 2015.
The NGOs, through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, have alleged that some power firms are involved in “over-invoicing of about 400 per cent of power equipment and fuel in order to siphon off money to their promoter firms registered in tax havens and also in order to inflate electricity tariffs which are based on the cost of equipment and fuel”.
“This is a very serious matter involving tens of thousands of crore. The CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry against some Adani Group firms, which was closed during the tenure of Ranjit Sinha, who is now being investigated by the SIT. Over-invoicing by these firms leads to taking more loans from banks than is required, cheating of consumers as higher tariffs are passed on to the consumers and cheating of shareholders of these firms as money is being siphoned off abroad,” Bhushan said.
On Wednesday, Justice C Hari Shankar recused himself from hearing the case as he has appeared for some of the firms named in the petition in the past.
The counsel appearing for the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, said the government is opposing even the issuance of notice in the petition as it would “jeopardise the entire power sector.”
The high court will now hear the case on September 20.
According to the DRI, overvaluation of power equipment and coal has the effect of artificially raising the tariff values fixed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission or the respective state regulatory commissions.
The DRI has alleged that several traders are directly importing Indonesian coal but the invoices are “routed through one or more related /associated intermediary firms based abroad” after artificially inflating its value. To justify the inflated price, “manipulated test reports” of the quality of coal is submitted to PSUs and Customs. This coal is then supplied to public power generation firms at the “artificially inflated import price and the inflated price is remitted from India to the intermediary firms abroad which remit only the actual price to the suppliers of the coal and the balance is siphoned off elsewhere”.
#TRUMP'S #H1B VISA PLAN COULD SEE THOUSANDS OF #INDIAN WORKERS DEPORTED. #India
As President Donald Trump considers plans to create new rules that would curb H-1B visa extensions and could see thousands of mostly Indian skilled workers deported while they wait for their green cards, industry leaders in India are warning that the move could also hurt the U.S. economy.
The proposal, which was part of Trump's Buy American, Hire American initiative that he vowed to launch on the campaign trail, is being drafted by Department of Homeland Security leaders, sources have told McClatchy DC. If approved, it could see as many as 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders forced to leave the U.S., IndiaToday.in has reported.
Those who have their green card approved would be able to return to the U.S., but it would essentially mean restarting the process of establishing a life in America.
Industry leaders in India have also warned that the new rules could cause a shortage of skilled workers in the U.S., potentially damaging the country's economy.
#McMaster of War: #American #tanks were several generations ahead of T-72s of his #Iraqi opponents. #Abrams have depleted uranium armor... and carry anti-tank munitions tipped with depleted uranium penetrators with significantly longer range. #Trump
A number of military experts – including the defense secretary, James Mattis – have warned that a US war against North Korea would be hard, incredibly destructive and bloody, with civilian casualties in the millions, and could go badly for US forces. But Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, is apparently insistent that ‘a military strike be considered as a serious option’.
One of Gen. McMaster’s claims to fame is a Silver Star he was awarded for a tank ‘battle’ he led in the desert during the so-called Gulf War of 1991. As a young captain leading a troop with nine new Abrams M1A1 battle tanks, McMaster destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks in 23 minutes without losing any of his own or suffering any casualties.
McMaster’s exploit (later embellished with a name, the ‘Battle of 73 Easting’) was little more than a case of his having dramatically better equipment. His tanks were several generations ahead of the antique Russian-built T-72s of his Iraqi opponents. They were protected by depleted uranium armour – a dense metal virtually impenetrable by conventional tank shells, anti-tank rockets and RPGs – and carried anti-tank munitions tipped with depleted uranium penetrators, which can punch through steel armour as if it were cardboard. They then ignite a tank’s interior, exploding any ordnance inside and incinerating the crew. The Abrams main cannon also has a significantly longer range than the tanks McMaster was confronting, meaning he and his men were able to pick off the Iraqi tanks while the shells fired back at them all fell short.
McMaster also fought in the Iraq War of the following decade. In 2005, running counter-insurgency operations in Tal Afar, a northern city of 200,000 people, McMaster ordered up a massive ground assault and aerial bombardment that levelled 60 per cent of the buildings in the old city centre. His experiences in Iraq raise concerns that Trump’s national security adviser may misperceive war as a one-sided affair in which an invincible US, with its super-powerful war machine, can smash its enemies with impunity.
I spoke to Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired army colonel who was chief of staff to Colin Powell when he was George W. Bush’s secretary of state. ‘McMaster knows very little about the [Korean] peninsula, period,’ he told me. ‘Thus far, his comments and – I must assume – his counsel to the NSC and its head, Trump, reflects that ignorance.’ Asked whether McMaster may be underestimating the risks of attacking North Korea, Wilkerson said: ‘That could be said of almost any US flag officer and reinforced with any who had combat experience in Iraq in 1990-91 or 2003.’
#US tightens #H1B #visa rules, #Indians to be hit hardest. #India #Modi #Technology http://toi.in/qqEbWa/a24gk via @timesofindia
The Trump administration has just made it more difficult for companies and individuals to get the H-1B work visa. And even if one gets it, it may not be for a full three years, as is the practice now.
Indians and Indian IT companies will feel the impact the most because they are the biggest users of this visa. The shorter durations may even make the transition from H-1B to a green card next to impossible.
A policy memorandum issued by the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on February 22 said its officers could seek detailed documentation and more evidence from companies to establish that they have specific assignments in a specialty occupation for the H-1B beneficiary. And that they have these assignments for the entire time requested on the petition.
If the company is able to only demonstrate that the beneficiary will have the specified work for less than three years, then the visa would be granted for that shorter duration.
Currently, H-1Bs are issued for three years, and, for a long time, they were extended for another three years with few questions asked. Over the past year, the Trump administration has made the process of extension more difficult - compelling Indian IT companies to tell employees on H-1Bs that they may have to return earlier than anticipated. The new rules imply that one may not even get the initial full three years now.
#India's #visa temples attract #Hindu devotees aspiring to go abroad. These temples can be found in almost any Indian city with a #US consulate – 104.5 WOKV
CHENNAI, India — (AP) — Arjun Viswanathan stood on the street, his hands folded, eyes fixed on the idol of the Hindu deity Ganesh.
On a humid morning, the information technology professional was waiting outside the temple, the size of a small closet – barely enough room for the lone priest to stand and perform puja or rituals for the beloved elephant-headed deity, believed to be the remover of obstacles.
Viswanathan was among about a dozen visitors, most of them there for the same purpose: To offer prayers so their U.S. visa interviews would go smoothly and successfully. Viswanathan came the day before his interview for an employment visa.
“I came here to pray for my brother’s U.K. visa 10 years ago and for my wife’s U.S. visa two years ago,” he said. “They were both successful. So I have faith."
The Sri Lakshmi Visa Ganapathy Temple is a few miles north of the airport in Chennai (formerly Madras), a bustling metropolis on the Coromandel Coast in southeast India -- known for its iconic cuisine, ancient temples and churches, silk saris, classical music, dance and sculptures.
This “visa temple” has surged in popularity among U.S. visa seekers over the past decade; they can be found in almost any Indian city with a U.S. consulate. They typically gain a following through word of mouth or social media.
A mile away from the Ganesh temple is the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Navaneetha Krishnan Temple, where an idol of Hanuman – a deity who has a human body and the face of a monkey — is believed to possess the power to secure visas. Also known as “Anjaneya,” this god stands for strength, wisdom and devotion. In this temple, he has earned the monikers “America Anjaneya” and “Visa Anjaneya.”
The temple’s longtime secretary, G.C. Srinivasan, said it wasn’t until 2016 that this temple became a “visa temple.”
“It was around that time that a few people who prayed for a visa spread the word around that they were successful, and it's continued,” he said.
A month ago, Srinivasan said he met someone who got news of his visa approval even as as he was circumambulating the Anjaneya idol — a common Hindu practice of walking around a sacred object or site.
On a recent Saturday night, devotees decorated the idol with garlands made of betel leaves. S. Pradeep, who placed a garland on the deity, said he was not there to pray for a visa, but believes in the god's unique power.
“He is my favorite god,” he said. “If you genuinely pray – not just for visa – it will come true.”
At the Ganesh temple, some devotees had success stories to share. Jyothi Bontha said her visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai went without a hitch, and that she had returned to offer thanks.
“They barely asked me a couple of questions,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
Bontha’s friend, Phani Veeranki, stood nearby, nervously clutching an envelope containing her visa application and supporting documents. Bontha and Veeranki, both computer science students from the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh and childhood friends, are headed to Ohio.
Both learned about the visa temple on the social media platform Telegram.
Veeranki said she was anxious because she had a lot riding on her upcoming visa interview.
“I’m the first person in my family to go the United States,” she said. “My mother is afraid to send me. But I’m excited for the opportunities I’ll have in America.”
Veeranki then handed over the envelope to the temple’s priest for him to place at the foot of the idol for a blessing.
“We’ve been hearing about applications being rejected,” she said, her hands still folded in prayer. “I’m really hoping mine gets approved.”
If she and Bontha make it to Ohio, they want to take a trip to Niagara Falls.
“I’ve always wanted to see it,” Bontha said.
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