What ‘Curbs On Foreign Workers’ Mean To Indian Middle Class?

With doors being shut on foreign workers around the world, Is Indian middle class facing a new inflection point?

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington (DC): Curbs on foreign workers have increased recently in many countries that once had open-heartedly welcomed talent from foreign lands. This shift is not sudden or haphazard, but a result of growing rejection for globalization, which had adverse effects on the people of these countries.

The US has tightened its H1B visa program. Australians have abolished their 457 visas, which allowed foreign workers to work on their land, saying, “Australians first.” New Zealand has put restrictions on its immigration system saying, “Kiwis First.” The UK has been making it difficult for foreign workers to get jobs after their education in the country.

According to the Hindustan Times, jobs in United Arab Emirates fell by around 33 percent in 2016. Low-skilled Indian workers emigrate to find work in manufacturing and oil production companies in the Arab countries. About 85 percent in the information technology jobs on H1B visas goes to Indians. All this means that there is going to be an impact on India, and especially on Indian middle class.

The threat of de-globalization

The restrictions on H1B visa in the US, for example, are not happening just because President Donald Trump is in power. He promised during the elections that he would curb the program, and he did so because people were looking for candidates who promised tougher policy against immigration.

There is a strong urge in the people to tighten the immigration system. Racism has not much role to play here. The Americans are desperate for jobs and they felt marginalized by the foreign workers who had an edge in technology and took advantage of or, at times, abused H1B visa program. They have seen jobs moving away from them. They were not anymore the beneficiaries of the economic growth the country has achieved in the past decade. The companies made money but little had trickled down to the bottom percentage of the country.

Technology has also taken away jobs from them. They had to update themselves, but even then the field was not leveled. Majority of the companies were giving contracts to Indian IT companies who in turn hire Indian labor for less pay in most cases or get projects done in India with less cost.

Trump’s campaign was based on delivering more jobs to Americans. After coming to the office, his inaction on immigration resulted in his low approval rating forcing him to sign an executive order directing the federal department to come up with recommendations to reform the H1B visa program to support merit-based approach.

This order will not cause any immediate problem to Indians working on H1B visas, but could pose a danger in the future. Trump has also cracked down on H1B visa abuses. One White House official has even named a few Indian IT companies that he alleged abused the program.

Opportunities in India

All those people who are unlucky with their visas or outside jobs will return to India or stay back in India in the future if the curbing trend continues. Many of them will be college graduates and looking for jobs in the country with their foreign prospects in jeopardy. They look for higher education and high-paying jobs. Indian Government should be in a position to provide quality higher education and show opportunities.

At present, higher education poses a great challenge to the Indian Government. There is not much infrastructure to provide quality education to those young Indians who have grown up with American dreams. Also, the government needs to focus on creating jobs, especially technology jobs.

With the outside doors shutting, Indian middle class also have to adapt and look out for new ways for its prosperity and growth.

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