Karnataka IT minister flays central govt on H1B visa issue

He said the Indian government should "sit up and take the issue to its logical conclusion."

By: PTI | Bengaluru | Published:May 2, 2017 6:14 pm
Priyank Kharge, Karnataka IT minister, H-1B impasse, Donald Trump, Trump H-1B, H-1B news. India H-1B visa, visa regime, India news, Indian Express Photo for representational purposes. 

Karnataka IT Minister Priyank Kharge on Tuesday flayed the central government for continuously being “rhetorical” and claimed it did not have a concrete agenda to put an end to the H1B impasse. “…the government should send somebody to solve the matter through talks,” Kharge said.

In a blow to Indian IT industry and professionals, US President Donald Trump had recently signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H1B visa programme to stop its “abuse” and ensure visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners.

On being asked if it was fair for the central government to question the sovereign decision of the US government, Kharge said it is natural that no other country should question such a decision. But if an issue affects a major part of the working population, the matter should be taken up to find a solution, he said.

He said the Indian government should “sit up and take the issue to its logical conclusion.”

“After all, our professionals are stealing the economy of the US. It is because of the shortage of skilled manpower, we are sending our professionals, hence it becomes the moral responsibility of the government to act. But unfortunately in a federal setup I cannot go talk to the the central government,” he told PTI here.

Kharge also felt that the central government is not able to pull its weight at the international level in almost all matters, including H1B visas.

“I see some kind of failure with the central government because every time our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) hosts delegates and government heads of countries like China, the US and Australia, these very leaders when they go back to their countries they have some bad news for us to offer,” he said.

On charges that top Indian IT companies have abused H1B visas, Kharge said the US government has all the right to take action against them for “unfairly” cornering the lion’s share of H1B visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system, but it should take cognisance of shortage of high-skilled manpower to run its economy.

“If they (Indian IT companies) are bloating applications, let them (US government) take action on a case-to-case basis, see and analyse,” he said.

“However, the question I want to raise is – Do they have high-skilled professionals to run the vertical by their own? I doubt it, because if they had that, they would not have opened the system in the first place,” the minister said.

“Just to check the abuse of H1B visas, it will not be the right approach to hurt the prospects of the entire American economy. There is a saying and that is – just because you have a cold, you do not cut off the nose,” he said.

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