When the border stand-off with China deepens, India will need to think of all potential diplomatic solutions in this crisis that will lend it leverage. New arrangements with a variety of foreign powers is one such factor which is often discussed in this sense. Most military analysts salivate at the possibility of an ever stronger coalition with the United States.

It is a good moment for mobilizing public sentiment on China. As China under Xi Jinping regime has seen an unprecedented degree of global alienation.  But can that be translated into concerted global action to bring real pressure to bear on China? India should pursue every avenue possible. Yet we would always have a thorough understanding of the limits of what can be achieved for India through new partnerships or agreements.

It’s important to remember that in the context of the development paradigm of a country , international relations are formed. India’s primary goal, if it can possibly articulate one, would be to maintain the optimum space for its growth model. In that way, India isn’t special. The alliance between the US and China may have arisen in the diplomatic effort to establish a break between the Sino-Soviets. But for decades this relationship was sustained not by a strategic logic, but by the logic of the developmental political economy in both the US and China, where they depended on each other reciprocally.

The technology model ‘s diplomatic prestige waned, and it is this fact that will be essentially the catalyst of the relationship between the US and China. The question for India is not just whether the US has any stake in the development of India, which it could have. Yet it is more a matter of how India’s infrastructure needs can fit into the evolving model of US growth. Will the very powers of the political economy which establish a disengagement with China also come in the way of closer relations with India? Some sections of American big business could be batting for India; but the underlying dynamics of the political economy are less favorable.

Would the US grant India the space it wants for commerce, intellectual property, legislation, agriculture, labour mobility, the very domains where democracy is essential to the economy of India? Can an American hell-bent on getting industrial jobs back to the U.S., comfortably fit with a Bharat “atma nirbhar?” To see what’s at stake, we need only look at how friction over the development paradigm drives tensions between the US and the EU on trade, taxation and regulatory issues.

There is sometimes a complaint in the US about India being invited but refusing enthusiastically to come to table. Given the salutary cultural and political impetus in this relationship there is some reality to this. Yet the causes of this, including climate change, have also been genuine disagreements in growth. It was also that this question was antithetical to the other strategic commitments of India at various points. India was wise to stay out of the Iraq war, it was wise not to completely spurn Russia, and it is wise not to throw its weight behind the US policy on Iran.

There’s more wisdom in the US to comprehend the role of India. But there is a section of India ‘s strategic community that sees India ‘s reluctance to go in with the U.S., hook line and sinker, as a sort of ideological wimpiness, not a sign of deeper-thought-out realism that it was.

It is a strange moment in global affairs, where a common challenge emanating from China is recognised, but there is no global appetite for concerted action. The global response to the BRI could be an interesting example. Many countries struggle to meet their debt obligations to the BRI. Most loans from China have been a millstone around the necks of the debtor countries. But it’s hard to see the rest of the international community help all these countries wean their regimes away from Chinese finance dependence. Similarly, there are now considerable concerns about frontier conflict areas such as cyber security and space.



Will US pause on H1-B visas will impact Indian companies?

On Tuesday, the U.S. government announced it extended the 60-day immigration and non-immigrant worker visa ban until the end of 2020. Popular work visas including the much coveted H-1B and H-2B and some categories of H-4, J and L visas will also remain suspended until 31 December, the White House said in a press release.

The move, said US President Donald Trump, was to protect domestic workers who had been affected in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic because of a contraction in the economy.

To fill a shortage with highly qualified low-cost workers in IT and other similar fields, the U.S. government issues a variety with permits per year allowing businesses outside the U.S. to send staff to work on customers.

Among all working visas, the H-1B remains the most common among IT companies in India. Per year, the US government has a quota of 85,000 H-1B total visas. Of this, 65,000 H-1B visas are issued to highly skilled foreign workers, while the remaining 20,000 may be allocated additionally to highly skilled foreign workers who have an American university degree in higher education or master’s.

In addition to the H-1B visas, the US government also issues L1 visas allowing companies to transfer highly skilled workers to the US for up to seven years. H-2B visas enable food and farm workers to seek employment in the US.

After its introduction in 1952, the H-1 visa system has undergone several modifications and amendments to authorize or disallow other groups of foreign workers in the US, depending on the country’s economic situation.

Together with the arrival of the internet and low-cost computers in developing countries such as India and China, the technology boom saw a large number of graduates willing to work at relatively low costs in the US, a win-win situation for both the employer and the staff. Since then, though, it has been frequently criticized for sending low-cost workers to the US at the expense of homeworkers.

After taking over as US president in January 2017, Trump had suggested that low-cost workers hampered the economy and undermined citizens’ jobs. The US then suggested that the “broken” H-1B visa system be reformed.

Trump seized the opportunity presented by Covid-19’s economic contraction by first banning the entry of non-immigrant workers until June 23, and then extending it until December 31.

Trump said in his executive order extending the ban that while “properly administered temporary worker programs can bring benefits to the economy” under normal circumstances, the extraordinary economic contraction created as a result of Covid-19 posed a threat to American workers.

As the ban is in place immediately, issuance of the additional types of visas H-1B, H-2B, J, and L will have to be halted. This means that those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa as of June 23, and who are outside the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until December 31. Some relief has been given to workers in essential services in the food sector and their entry will be decided by the immigration services consular officer.