Happy Flipside: Telangana, AP Techies Can Make Gold Out Of Trump’s Visa Ban!

 - Sakshi Post

HYDERABAD: US President Donald Trump’s decree suspending H1B and other work visas till the end of December this year has come in as a bolt from the blue for Information Technology companies world over, especially for those in India. The move would mean that there will be no fresh non-immigrant work visas for now and all the techies dreaming of an ‘on-site’ stint in the United States will have to wait longer, at least until the time the temporary ban is in place.

The US president’s decision has certainly left the IT firms in a quandary as they are now pushed back to the drawing boards for a rethink of their strategies. While the news is being received with anguish and frustration, the flipside of the adversity is presenting a happy picture as it is actually appearing to be working in favour of Indian techies and the Indian companies in the long run. Beyond the mood of gloom and despondency, there is a new awakening in a section of the IT industry which views this as ‘great positive news’, purely from an Indian perspective.

Analysts of the IT sector firmly believe that the straight-jacketing from the work visa suspension will actually lead to a scenario where the American IT companies will be constrained very soon to opt for renewed ‘off-shoring’ or outsourcing activity. Ironically, it is the same ‘indigenous jobs protection factor’ -- which prompted the current visa ban by Trump -- that is expected to result in a severe shortage of skilled workforce in the US, which in turn is likely to open the window for massive outsourcing of IT projects by most of the American giants.

In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s decision, the US IT firms are expected to deal with these twin challenges: Huge shortfall of skilled workforce and astronomically high wages to be paid to the US citizens enrolled for their projects.

Against this backdrop, Indian IT observers are optimistic of the situation panning out to a huge advantage of external players especially the Indian IT firms that have proven competence in off-shore deliverables.

Sundeep Makthala, President of Telangana Information Technology Association (TITA), sees this development as a ‘huge positive in disguise’ for India, more specifically for the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Speaking to Sakshi Post, the TITA founder feels that the heavy burden of costs in the absence of non-immigrant skilled professionals, especially from India, is bound to force the US companies to fall back on increased off-shoring of their projects. They could be seeing this as the only viable alternative to offset the costs and that is precisely where India could emerge as the most obvious choice for many.

In a pragmatic observation, he says that the positive takeaway for India from this will be far too bigger than the negative impact of the temporary work visa ban. “The visa ban till year-end is a major hit for H1B aspirants. Most of these aspirants are from the middle-management level with 3-10 years experience. The visa suspension means that all of them will have to stay back. But look at the larger picture. Sooner or later, the cost compulsions and shortfall of skilled professionals will force the US companies out of their comfort zones. They will be under pressure to outsource their projects on a large scale. And this will only benefit India while the stranded H1B aspirants, who form a vast pool of precious resource, will be in great demand,” Sundeep said.

He goes on to explain how the damage can be minimal on the larger picture: “Of the 85,000 H1B visas issued by the US every year, 74 per cent is a strong share that India claims and most of these visas are meant for technical jobs. The US decision will serve as a big jolt for many companies in their plans for the rest of the year. But then again, the number of individuals temporarily affected by it will be smaller as seen against a strong Indian IT population of 43 millions.”

‘POSITIVES IN BAD NEWS’ FOR INDIAN TECHIES

While the displeasure and distress over the move is palpable, there is already an air of optimism across IT firms with expertise in handling off-shore projects. Anticipating a quick positive turnaround in the situation, these firms are looking to flourish on renewed off-shoring activity, like it was the case a decade ago.

But how does this help the Indian firms and the Indian techies in particular? Here is the explanation.

“Once the US firms tilt towards off-shoring, it would mean projects in abundance for Indian companies. This is where the growth prospects of both the IT firms and individual techies increase manifold. The H1B aspirants, who have lost out on the onsite opportunity, will be in great demand in India. As the companies begin to thrive on heightened off-shoring activity from the US, these skilled professionals, besides many others in the country, are likely to be rewarded with perks and incentives like job promotions, lucrative pay hikes and more importantly, an increased opportunity to work ‘on-site’ in future,” says Sundeep.

As the past proves, India has been the most sought-after destination for a majority of the US firms off-shoring their projects. This is largely premised on two major factors: Despite the giant strides it made in the IT and software sector, India is still one of the most cost-effective options for the overseas clients from the West. And this comes with the added incentive of highly-skilled professionals in India, willing to spend long hours.

Moreover, with ‘off-shoring’ of projects, the constraints of geographic location will also be simply erased from the equation. Added to it is the current critical scenario of the coronavirus pandemic which has pushed most of the IT firms into the ‘work from home’ (WFH) mode.  

The TITA founder also predicts that IT companies and professionals from the two Telugu states -- Telangana and Andhra Pradesh -- would end up as the biggest beneficiaries once the US companies begin to lift the ‘outsourcing’ crest gates. Telangana boasts of a strong 5.8 lakh IT workforce operating from its soil with Hyderabad as its hub. A majority of this and a sizeable number of the country’s 43-million IT population are from the two Telugu states. Considered as ‘highly skilled’ in their areas of expertise, these professionals could be treated as ‘gold dust’ by the IT firms if the ‘outsourced’ projects keep flowing into the country.    

The temporary visa suspension may have crashed the ‘on-site dreams’ of the H1B aspirants but very soon these techies could be in full flight on the domestic circuit, if the latest ‘outsourcing prophecies’ come true!  

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