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Need low barriers for H-1B visas: Nicholas Burns

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 12, 2020 Published on June 12, 2020

Former US diplomat and academic Nicholas Burns   -  REUTERS

US needs qualified people, but the visas have been restricted, says former diplomat

Former US diplomat and academic Nicholas Burns favoured low barriers for H-1B visas to encourage educated, technically qualified Indians people come to the United States. In an interaction with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Burns was also critical of US President Donald Trump, describing him as an “in many ways an authoritarian personality.”

Maintaining that the military relationship between India and US is very strong, he said the US-India Naval and Air Force cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and throughout the entire Indian Ocean region gives him hope.

“H-1B visas have been severely limited in recent years. We simply don’t have enough engineers in the United States to run our economy and India can supply many of those engineers. I would keep the barriers low. I would encourage the movement of people, encourage University exchanges and certainly encourage us to be working together on democracy promotion around the world, on science and public health issues. If there’s another pandemic in our future and there most likely is, our two countries could be doing a lot more together for poorer members of our society. I’d like to see our relationship going that direction as well,” he said.

Burns said the secret weapon in India-US relations is the Indian-American community. “It is an extraordinary community in the United States, you know, they started out lots of engineers and scientists staying on in the 1970s and 80s becoming doctors in our hospitals. We now have, as you know, senior political leaders in Congress, in State Governors, Senators who are Indian-American, we have Indian-Americans in every facet of life. In some of our major tech companies in California, CEOs are Indian-Americans. So I think there has been a maturation of that community and it is a profound bridge between the two countries,” Burns said.

Rahul Gandhi said he sees a cooperative competition between India and China without ever going into violence.

“And yes, they have a different world view. Yes, they have an authoritarian world view. Yes, we have a democratic world view and I’m pretty confident that the democratic world view will do well. But in order to achieve that, that has to start from inside our countries. We can’t have an authoritarian perspective internally and then make that argument. That argument has to be made from the foundation of democracy, within the country itself, within our countries. And that’s where I see the problem. That it becomes very difficult for us to, from our perspective, to make an argument of democracy when our institutions are being torn apart. When our people are scared, when millions of people in our country are terrified of what is going to happen to them,” he said.

Gandhi said the DNA of the country is tolerant, but it is disappearing now. “We’re supposed to accept new ideas. We’re supposed to be open but the surprising thing is that that DNA, that open DNA is sort of disappearing. I mean, I say this with sadness that I don’t see that level of tolerance that I used to see. I don’t see it in the United States and I don’t see it in India,” the Wayanad MP said.

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Published on June 12, 2020
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