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Will the H1B Bill help or hurt US interests?



Will the H1B Bill help or hurt US interests?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With it, the new administration there intends to hire Americans, but in the end, the visa may prove to be the only way out if its own industries are to survive and thrive

By Sujit Bhar

In a somewhat desperate attempt to stop top international technical talent – especially those from India – from ruling Silicon Valley and supposedly depriving local American talent through the cost factor, a bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives which raises the minimum salary of H1B visa holders to $ 130,000. This is more than double the earlier level of $ 60,000.

The bill was introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren. It is called the “High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017”. The raise was based on a survey and the bill suggests that H1B visas be given only to those companies that are willing to pay 200 per cent of the survey average as minimum pay.

The justification is perhaps the median national annual wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations published by the Department of Labour Occupational Employment Statistics. That median is approximately $ 132,000. So this bill suggests a 35 percentile increase. The master’s degree exemption (for H1B visa applicants) has also been withdrawn, but that was expected.

Interestingly, there has been a 20 percent exemption, annually, on this H1B restriction, for small and start-up employers (50 or fewer employers). Technically, this is so that these small companies can hire cheaper labour to compete with the giants, creating some sort of level playing field. The bill says that this will, somehow, protect against outsourcing.

This presents an Achilles’ heel, which we will come to in a while, but we look at the situation this has created in India first. Indian tech stocks plummeted at the Bombay Stock Exchange and at the tech-heavy NSE.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Will the H1B Bill help or hurt US interests?The following are stock market indications:

  • The BSE Sensex was pulled down by 0.92 percent with IT stocks within it living in the red following the new H1B bill news. The overall fall may have been greater if not for some FMCG stocks that somewhat saved the day for the index.
  • However, the BSE IT Index, which is a marker for the IT stocks, dipped 4 percent overall, though many individual IT giants took a bigger hit.
  • TCS, the country’s largest software company plummeted 5.6 per cent; Tech Mahindra dived 9.7 per cent; HCL Tech went down 6.3 per cent; Infosys was down 4.6 per cent; Wipro was at -4.23 per cent range.

Even American IT stocks across the board were down on an average of 1 percent.

The justification

Before looking further into the cause and effect of the bill, one needs to listen to the justification made by Congressman Lofgren. He has been quoted in the media as saying: “My legislation refocuses the H-1B programme to its original intent – to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the US workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them.”

Fair enough, but while the lion’s share of Indian tech giants’ revenues comes from the US and while around 60 percent (more or less) of their employees hold H1B visas, US tech giants would also be hit in the long run. Not for nothing is Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft and Sundar Pichai heads Google. They deserved their positions and so do other highly talented Indian techies in the US on H1B visas.

The other problem

And now we come to the crux of the problem. The H1B visa isn’t all for IT experts and fresh techies wanting to join Microsoft or Google or Intel or any such company. H1B is also for bright students joining the pharmaceutical industry as researchers, mathematicians, and several other areas.

There are ten broad areas of occupation that can draw H1B visa applicants, and only one among them is “Computer Science & IT, and Telecom Occupations”. The others are:

  • Occupations In Architecture, Engineering, And Surveying
  • Occupations In Mathematics And Physical Sciences
  • Occupations In Life Sciences
  • Occupations In Medicine And Health
  • Occupations In Education & Research
  • Occupations in Writing and Languages
  • Occupations in Finance and Administrative Specializations
  • Occupations in Business Management & Administration
  • OTHER Specialty Occupations.

One would want to ask the Congressman how he intends a “small” player in, say, the pharmaceutical industry to use some of the exempt H1b visas to research and develop a new drug that will then need extensive testing, needing huge  funding. How does a small company manage to raise that level of funding?

If the purpose of the legislation was to throttle cheap foreign talent in the IT industry, this could well have a sad ripple effect elsewhere.

The Cost & Talent factors

Problem No. 2 rises from the very two reasons outsourcing and H1B visas came into existence for the US IT industry: Cost and talent.

All of Silicon Valley started small, very small. And the principal reasons for their meteoric rise were just two: A brilliant idea that could change the way of life and a business model that could create massive footprint, leading to incredible return on investment.

The promoters and the venture capitalists and/or banks gathered around them talent that was available in the country and set about realising their dreams. Along the way, there was need for more talent where brainstorming sessions could yield more than what was bargained for. That was where it was realised that the US does not create the requisite numbers in brilliant students/professionals that was essential to man these units and sessions. (See box and US census bureau graph)

Importing talent was the only way out, just as American talent sets up oil producing rigs—on land and offshore—in the Midwest. It would be interesting to note how the US would react if the Arab countries had designed a similar visa format and restricted US skill entry.

It happens all across the world. The Indian companies are taking on the losses today, but they are nimble, and they do have the talent pool. They have already started hiring Americans in the many Indian projects and companies in the US and while the new legislation will hurt their bottomlines, the cost will ultimately be passed on to the consumer. One guesses the US consumer would be the biggest loser in this.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

This could be a reverse IP challenge for Americans. In the pharmaceutical sector, for instance, while the per unit gain may be small in sales [for the US], the massive market that exists outside the US can assure similar returns for the drug, whose IP will be India (or China)-owned

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1485871830501{margin-bottom: 20px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”The Disparities”][vc_column_text]Graph with Box

A US Census Bureau report (Link: http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p20-578.pdf ) highlights the following disparities under the heading “Educational Attainment in the United States: 2015”:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1485871919994{margin-top: 5px !important;margin-right: 5px !important;margin-bottom: 5px !important;margin-left: 5px !important;border-top-width: 10px !important;border-right-width: 10px !important;border-bottom-width: 10px !important;border-left-width: 10px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”]HIGHLIGHTS

  • In 2015, almost 9 out of 10 adults (88 percent) had at least a high school diploma or GED, while nearly 1 in 3 adults (33 percent) held a bachelor’s or higher degree.
  • The percentage of women who had a bachelor’s degree or higher (33 percent) was not statistically different than the percentage of men (32 percent) with this level of education.
  • Educational attainment varied by race and Hispanic origin. More than half of Asians aged 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015. Asians were more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Asians and non-Hispanic Whites were more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher compared with Blacks and Hispanics.
  • Native adults were more likely to have a high school education or higher but were no more likely than foreign-born adults to hold an advanced degree.
  • Adults without a disability were more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or more than adults with a disability.


In 2015, the majority (88 percent) of adults were at least high school graduates and more than half (59 percent) had completed some college or more. One out of three adults (33 percent) reported they had a bachelor’s degree or more education, and 12 percent reported an advanced degree, such as a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. Educational attainment varied by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, nativity, and disability status.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There will be options

As for software for Indian and Chinese consumers, options can be easily developed for every existing common software needed for the regular market. For all specialised applications developed, such as logistics for railway or airline systems, they are already being developed by Indian firms in the US, with offshore research. The price escalations in these will be borne by the consumer, mostly western.

Then there is the India-China domestic market factor. Agreed, that the US market is by far the largest today, for IT. However, with the India-China economic growth, there will be need for companies—even western ones that would set up facilities abroad—based in these countries to develop proprietary software that will then earn IPs under that country’s law, namely, say, India.

How will that benefit consumers in the US? This could be a reverse IP challenge for Americans. In the pharmaceutical sector, research and detailed tests may be shifted to these countries and with lax drug testing laws, these drugs will come on to the international market beyond the legislation and watch of the FDA. While the per unit gain may be small in sales, the massive market that exists outside the US can assure similar returns for the drug, whose IP will be India (or China)-owned.

H1B protects not just talented individuals to the US from, say, India. It also protects the Americans from a world of invention that they would have priced themselves out of.

While hiring Americans, as per President Donald Trump’s exhortations, is a good thing in itself, Trump has to understand that to fill top technical posts with Americans, the country first has to have those talented people.

As per latest reports, the US does not. H1B is the way out, one way or the other.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

Villagers in MP village stunned as IAF Apache helicopter makes night landing | Watch

The aircraft was the much vaunted Apache attack helicopter of the Indian Air Force and had landed in a field in Bhind district, Madhya Pradesh around 9 pm.



Villagers in MP village stunned as IAF Apache helicopter makes night landing | Watch

The villagers of Jakhnauli has an unusual visitor last night. The villagers had possibly retired after a long hot Sunday when a helicopter made a precautionary landing following a technical error. Stunned villagers piled out of their homes towards the field where the chopper engines were raising bedlam.

The aircraft was the much vaunted Apache attack helicopter of the Indian Air Force and had landed in a field in Bhind district, Madhya Pradesh around 9 pm. A video uploaded online shows the villagers gathered around the chopper in the field. All IAF personnel in the Apache were safe.

The IAF tweeted that an Apache AH 64 helicopter had made a cautious landing and the craft and crew were secure. Another Apache had been flown in to help the chopper which had to land. The rectification party had arrived at the location, the tweet said.

The Apache AH-64 is said to be the most sophisticated multi-role combat helicopter in the world. The helicopter is a recent entrant into the Indian Air Force stable when India became the 16th country in the world to deploy it.

Touted as the best attack helicopter in the world, the Apache saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iraq, it struck out the nodes of the air defence systems ahead of bombing raids by UAF jets. The helicopter has been also a favourite target of opponents with several Apaches being brought down in Iraq during the insurgency following the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime.

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India News

Gruesome murder on camera: Man bludgeons minor girlfriend with cement slab five times in Shahbad Dairy, Kapil Mishra draws Kerala Story parallel

The CCTV clip shows the accused slamming a cement slab on the prone girl some five times, picking the slab up each time and throwing it on he over and over again. He then kicks the remains of the now dead minor



Gruesome murder on camera: Man bludgeons minor girlfriend with cement slab five times in Shahbad Dairy, Kapil Mishra draws Kerala Story parallel

Just over a year after the Shradhha Walkar murder in Mehrauli, Delhi has been shocked by the murder of a 16-year-old girl in the city’s Shahbad Dairy area near Rohini.

Police said the victim was a resident of the JJ Colony in Shahbad. She had been walking down the street to visit a friend when she was accosted by the accused and attacked. Police said the couple had had a quarrel on Saturday and the murder is said to be the after-effect of the quarrel.

The victim had been stabbed and bludgeoned dead by her boyfriend, who has since been arrested from Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. The murder was caught on CCTV in the densely populated area and bystanders didn’t stop the murder. Reports said she was stabbed several times and the knife got stuck in her abdomen but the man wrenched it out and again stabbed her. The CCTV clip shows the accused slamming a cement slab on the prone girl some five times, picking the slab up each time and throwing it on he over and over again. He then walks away and returns to kick the remains of the now dead minor.

While the murder could have been avoided if anyone passing by had stopped the accused or called the police, the heartlessness of the bystanders brings to mind the December 2016 gangrape when the bus in which the victim was assaulted was driving around South West Delhi. Further, the incidents of couples quarrels’ ending up in murder was also seen in the Shraddha Walkar murder when her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawalla killed her and disposed of her parts over time while the body was kept in a large refrigerator.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal condemned the murder but was quick to point out that law and order was not in his government’s domain and called on Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena to act on ensuring better law and order.

Former AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who is now in the BJP, called it a shameful incident. He said how many more such murders will be seen. Mishra said the girl was a Hindu and the accused was a Muslim and drew a parallel with the controversial film The Kerala Story and wondered how many such Kerala Stories will happen in each lane of the city. Mishra blamed the judiciary for not hanging Aaftab Poonawalla soon enough. The lack of punishment in the Walkar murder has emboldened criminals, Mishra said.

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India News

Manipur violence: Over 80 killed ahead of Home Minister Amit Shah visit

The fresh violence has come after a fragile peace was imposed by the Army between Kuki and Meitei groups. Imphal Valley sees conflict.



Manipur violence: Over 80 killed ahead of Home Minister Amit Shah visit

Continuing ethnic confrontations have claimed 80 lives in Manipur, including a policeman, and 12 others injured, just ahead of Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit.  

After terrorists in Serou and Sugunu region set fire to numerous homes, there were reports of new acts of violence in various areas of the state. Yesterday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said 40 terrorists, all of them Kukis, had been killed by gunfire in the previous few days.

The CM said the terrorists had been shooting at bystanders with sniper rifles and assault rifles such as the M-16 and AK-47. The army and other security forces had begun to take very aggressive action against them. The Chief Minister said the recent spike in violent attacks against citizens on the fringes of Imphal Valley were well-planned and condemned them.

Earlier, Home Minister Amit Shah had pleaded with the Kukis and Meiteis to not exacerbate violence and seek to restore normalcy. Shah had also met with representatives of the Meitei and Kuki groups as well as other parties to discuss steps taken to bring peace back to the state.

Army chief General Manoj Pande was in Manipur on Saturday to assess the state of law and order.

The Congress has condemned the failure of the Manipur government in curtailing the violence. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge will lead the party delegation to meet President Droupadi Murmu on May 30 over the worsening situation in Manipur, said Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary in-charge of communication. Ramesh said Manipur was seeing a complete breakdown of law and order.

In elections held last year in Manipur, the BJP won 32 seats in the 60-member Assembly.

The violence spiral hit Manipur after the Manipur High Court had ordered that the government should look at steps to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribes list. The Kukis had protested against the Meitei community which would grant them reservation and access to forest areas, following which violence spread throughout the state. Tension over the displacement of Kuki people from reserve forest area had caused a number of smaller agitations which triggered the violence to break out.

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