Political leaders struggling to deal with tech changes, says Sam Pitroda

Venkatesh Ganesh/ Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on April 30, 2018

Sam Pitroda   -  PTI

With the Donald Trump administration clamping down on H-1B and H-4 visas, Sam Pitroda, Chairman of Overseas Congress, Department of the Indian National Congress, feels that politicians globally are taking a knee-jerk approach to globalisation.

“Politicians are using patriotism as a guise to discriminate against groups of people — whether in the US or Europe,” said Pitroda, who was former adviser to the Congress government and credited with ushering in the telecom revolution in India. He was speaking at the launch of an outreach initiative by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committees (KPCC) for NRIs.

Pitroda reiterated that political leaders are incapacitated to deal with complex changes that businesses are facing fuelled by technology. “They don’t know how to deal with these changes,” he told BusinessLine.

These views are shared by other Congress members. According to Madhu Goud Yakshi, Secretary and Spokesperson, AICC, who is in charge of Karnataka, said that realistically speaking the US cannot afford to clamp down on Indian workers as there is a shortage of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) graduates and they contribute to their local economies. “We feel that it will be a temporary issue,” he said.

This issue comes in the backdrop of reduced H-1B applications filed by Indian companies as they are subject to tighter scrutiny by the US government. Recently, a top Federal agency official in the Trump administration are planning to terminate a provision in H-4 visas, which would not allow these visa holders an option to work in the US. According to estimates, this is expected to impact more than one lakh Indians. “The Narendra Modi government has failed to raise the issue for Indian workers who contribute to the US economy,” said Yashi, adding that companies such as Mahindra and Mahindra are employing 30,000 in the US.

The issue on visas has kicked up a storm in Karnataka, home to more than one-third of software exports. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah joined in on the debate of Trump administration’s possible move to deny work for spouses using H-1B visas.

“Denying spouses of H-1B visa holders in the US the permission to work is not fair. Techies from Karnataka are affected by this. Bengaluru is home to a large number of US expatriates. Should their spouses have a free ride here,” he tweeted.

Published on April 30, 2018

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