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How Nasscom Is Harming the Indian IT Industry

Don Tennant

The Indian IT trade association Nasscom exists to advance the interests of Indian IT companies and, by extension, those of Indian IT workers. In truth, this organization is setting those companies and workers up for failure in the United States, the market on which they've become so dependent for their success.

 

The problem is that rather than work to foster a cooperative relationship between the Indian IT industry and the U.S. government, Nasscom has inexplicably chosen to frame the U.S. government as an adversary. A recent example of this peculiar myopia came on Monday, when a Nasscom official blamed U.S. politics, lack of clarity, and "flawed logic" for the visa difficulties being confronted by the Indian IT industry in general, and especially by Infosys, the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation of the immigration fraud reported by Infosys employee and whistleblower, Jay Palmer.

 

The comments, made by Nasscom Vice President Ameet Nivsarkar, were reported by The Indian Express, a Mumbai-based media outlet. Here's some of what Nivsarkar had to say:

Nasscom is concerned over recent investigation in the U.S. involving some Indian companies. However, we need to understand that the parameters governing H1B/L1 visas are not clearly defined. Indian industry has added significantly to the U.S. competitiveness and have been good citizens, contributing to social security, local taxes, creating local employment, and contributing to the community. Nasscom is working with the governments, administration, policy makers to find ways that can help mitigate the impact upon the IT industry of visa restrictions, often based on flawed logic. The election-related rhetoric has historically targeted the [Indian IT] industry; this is not a new phenomenon.

No doubt, some of what Nivsarkar says is absolutely true. I've written extensively over the years in support of U.S. immigration policies that have enabled talented workers from India and other countries to bring their valuable social and economic contributions to this country. I continue to be a steadfast supporter of policies that benefit the world as a whole, not just the United States or any single country, so I welcome with appreciation that global collaborative spirit.

 

But none of that can be allowed to mask or excuse the problems that desperately need to be fixed. To blame the U.S. government for creating the visa difficulties that the Indian IT industry is facing is nonsense. The U.S. government is finally clamping down on the visa abuse that has been rampant for years. In the case of Infosys, thanks largely to information provided by Jay Palmer, the government has collected a mountain of evidence of widespread criminal activity related to social security and taxes, the very areas Nivsarkar has chosen to cite in reference to the contributions of the Indian IT industry.

 


What Nasscom needs to accept is that the source of the problem is the violation of our laws, not our government's enforcement of them. And then it needs to do its job and truly advance the interests of its constituents. It needs to spearhead a campaign to educate the Indian IT industry and its workers about the importance of abiding by U.S. immigration and tax laws. When it learns of a federal probe of widespread violations of U.S. laws and regulations by an Indian company, it needs to get out of excuse-making and blame-shifting mode and investigate the root of the problem so it can help fix it.

 

Contending that the U.S. needs to change to enable the Indian IT industry to conduct business as usual does a tremendous disservice to Indian IT companies and workers. That's how Nasscom is setting them up for failure. Business as usual doesn't work anymore, and companies that try it in the future stand to pay an awfully heavy price. If Nasscom doubts that, I suggest it watch the Infosys case very, very closely.


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