India, May 15 — India need not fret over the restrictions the US has placed on Indian IT professionals but learn to use the skilled manpower

One of the recent Bills re-introduced by the US Congress aims to tighten the existing H1-B visa norms that has shaken the Indian IT industry completely. The amendments to the visa norms are in line with US President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ strategy that would potentially jeopardise a good number of the information technology sector jobs which are currently outsourced to India.

The US is the most important market for India’s $110 billion information technology services export industry. Some of the worst hit by this new Bill will be Indian companies such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro who together have around 3.5 million employees on their payrolls.

Besides Indian companies, global giants such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Accenture, Microsoft etc, who use the H1-B visa to hire non-Americans, would also be severely impacted. While this has prompted India to raise the concerns of its information technology industry with the Donald Trump Administration, the American firms are also equally concerned as their costs of service delivery in the absence of their H1-B Visa enabled employees will shoot up.

So, could there be any beneficial outcome of this crisis as far as India is concerned? If the cards are played right, then yes. Considering that today a lot of business activities can be in a virtual mode and on the ‘cloud’, India must look at this H1-B Visa issue as a boon in disguise.

Given our capabilities, India should not be lobbying with the US or any other Government to take our highly trained human assets out of India, who have the potential to be the engines of economic growth and prosperity in our-own country. The Government of India should rather seriously attempt at having a plan to build a new India by recreating an environment that has been fostered in the US. India will do well to, for example create an Indian ‘silicon valley’.

The task will not be easy, but who says achievements are attained easily. A virtuous cycle in the information technology sector linked with all other sectors of the economy needs to be nurtured with the objective to make India a global powerhouse hub to provide information technology services the world over.

At a recently held India Today conclave in Mumbai, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani echoed a similar sentiment. In his address he said, “It’s high time that our brightest and the best work for the benefit of India and Indians.” When asked whether he sees a reverse brain-drain, he quipped, “without doubt”. He added, “By whatever fate they are brought back to this country, they can help improve the lives of 1.3 billion citizens and put together a new developmental model…there cannot be a better blessing in disguise than that.”

Ambani also said there is a need to retain data generated domestically within the country as “keeping our data onshore will ensure that talent, technology, know-how and investments will flow into the country rather than flow out, and will create more jobs for us. Like the Digital India and Make in India campaigns, we need a Keep in India initiative to keep our data within our shores” and urged the Government to start a ‘Keep in India’ initiative for this.

If India could develop its own navigation technology, that was an outcome of a US ban on India since 1996, which is the core of, now famous, satellite launches by India as well as the making of the very much Indian fighter jets, it is proof enough that India has the potential to cover the extra mile to meet a challenge.

The Indian IT services companies need to play their part in this process, and could work towards finding strategic ways of bringing more work to India – suitable to national priorities and availability of resources.

Thus, instead of encouraging the exodus of the highly-trained Indians to foreign shores, they should be persuaded to become part of the badly needed economic, social and cultural resurgence in the country. Let us look forward to the emergence of an Indian Silicon Valley.

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