The world is increasingly resisting Indian tech workers whose hard work for frugal salaries has become a legend.
NEW DELHI: The US is not the only country averse to Indian tech workers. The UK too has revised its immigration laws. In November last year, the UK announced its new visa rules which set a higher salary threshold for anyone applying under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) category under which Indian tech companies take their workers to the UK.
Singapore is the latest to join the so called ‘keep the techie immigrants out’ camp. It is showing resistance to Indian tech workers. Since 2014, the Singapore government has increased the minimum salary for eligibility to apply for a job in Singapore. It has asked companies to advertise jobs locally before applying for a work permit. Since February 2016, it has been withholding decisions on work permit applications of Indian companies.
Visas for IT professionals to work in Singapore have dropped to a trickle, prompting the Indian government to put on hold the review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with the country citing violation of the trade pact.
The world is increasingly resisting Indian tech workers whose hard work for frugal salaries has become a legend. It's a bit of a stretch to see the Indian techies as the new imperialists, but the fear they evoke in the west might be based on what happened nearly a century ago.
With the industrial revolution in the west, India became a big importer of textiles from being a leader in textile exports in a matter of decades—due to cheap mass-manufacture technology. England's cheap machine-made textile goods ruined India's superior but costlier textile industry and a sophisticated banking system that financed it.
Indian tech companies are the new textile mills of Manchester and Lancashire, churning out cheap services with which the local IT services industry in the US cannot compete. While the English mills had a free run in absence of any tariff barriers in India, Indian tech companies face growing restrictions.
India's vast entry-level tech labour has become a challenge for the developed countries where wages for such labour are much higher. India already has an oversupply of software engineers which prevents salaries from going up. Industry veteran T V Mohandas Pai recently claimed that India's big IT services companies had come together to keep salary of freshers low taking advantage of the oversupply.
Indians have a natural flair for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. The huge trained workforce will eventually also produce innovators. In a few decades, Indian tech companies can evolve into cutting-edge tech leaders. Then they will be the real imperialists, warring with a far bigger global resistance.
Today's visa restrictions on Indian tech workers point to a new economic world order that can emerge in a few decades where Indian tech companies might be the conquerors.