This Article is From Sep 18, 2010

India raises issues of H-1B visas and outsourcing with US govt

New York: Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has raised India's concerns over the controversial position taken by the US over outsourcing and recent hike in H-1B visa fee with the Obama administration.

Nirupama Rao is in Washington meeting with senior member of the Obama administration to set the agenda for President Obama's upcoming visit to India in November.

Rao met with US secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her American counterpart US Undersecretary of State William Burns and members of the Commerce department.

She has told NDTV that in her meetings with top officials of the US administration, she raised India's concerns.

"These issues are of serious concern to us and we have raised it in several meetings," she told NDTV's Sarah Jacob in an interview. Rao added that protectionist sentiment is of serious concern to Indian Industry.

In August this year, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland of Democratic Party banned outsourcing arguing that this undermined economic development and had unacceptable business consequences for his state.

The move followed a controversial legislation that increased H-1B and L1 visa fees for foreign companies, particularly outsourcing giants from India.

India's IT industry had said the move will cost them $ 200 million a year and that it threatened to hurt the economic ties between US and India.

But seeking to downplay the ban on outsourcing clamped by the government of its Ohio state, US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer recently said that ban would not have any bearing on Indo-US business ties and asserted that the partnership between the countries was "indispensable".

He added that similar actions in the past have not affected Indo-US ties which have grown to a far greater level.

Outsourcing-related issues are expected to figure in greater detail when Commerce Minister Anand Sharma meets US Trade Representative Ron Kirk at the joint Trade Policy Forum on September 21.

Here's more on what Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told NDTV:

The US has taken a provocative stance on issues like hiking H1B visa fees and banning government outsourcing. Did you manage to raise these issues with the Obama administration?

Rao: I did. I raised it in a number of my meetings. I was able to convey to them that the issue was of serious concern to our industry and essentially was perceived as a rise in protectionist sentiment in the US and we needed to address these issues. But the sense that we got in these discussions was that the relationship between India and the US has acquired a dimension and relevance that includes a number of areas and issues such as this need to be addressed keeping in mind the larger purpose of this  relationship.

The US and India seem to be on different pages on their Af-Pak policy. This is a deliverable that we are not going to get a consensus on before the trip?

Rao: I actually do not agree with you on that description. We are not on different pages. Infact, I came away with the impression, with the very strong conclusion that India and the US have much in common when it comes to Afghanistan. We are both against terrorism. We are against extremism we see the need to overcome it. We are for democracy, stability and development in Afghanistan and there is growing appreciation by the day in the US about the role that India is playing in Afghanistan and the contributions that we have made to the development of that country. On the contrary, rather than differences I see growing convergence.