India lobbies, Congress listens, we lose our jobs

An adjunct professor at the University of New South Wales has revealed the depth and danger of lobbying by India to end jobs for Americans and replace them with H-1B holders.In an interview Ashok Sharma said lobbying has not diminished under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, who campaigned against H1B visas. In fact, the opposite seems true, as Sharma explained:

Since Modi’s arrival and reactivation of Indian lobbying in the post-nuclear deal phase, H-1B visas is the first major issue to show its strength and effectiveness. Indian lobbying has suddenly become active, especially to tackle the US move to curb H-1B visas.

It has also evolved in strength and strategy since its inception phase in the 1990s. It’s now well-organized, coordinated and more focused in its approach. But they will need to focus on individuals and officials who are influential in the Trump administration.

Sharma said that a multi-pronged approach will allow Indians to take even more American jobs:

Though lobbying is done at every level of the government and political setup, the primary target is the US Congress where all policies are made. Congressional perception often affects executive action.

In India’s case, this was visible during the Cold War period. The executive action reflected the Congressional perception about India which was often hostile during debates on financial aid and the nuclear issue.

It was the formation of the India Caucus in the US Congress in 1993 that led to a drastic transformation in perception. Its successful lobbying has contributed to a much better image of India in the US Congress that has paved the way for a favorable policy by subsequent US administrations.

In his comments last week Sharma concluded that: “Today, Indian lobbying has fully arrived on Capitol Hill.” He credits India’s success with H-1B visas to no single political party:

I would say the Democrats have been more welcoming traditionally. But eventually, Indian lobbying became bipartisan. Its success also depends upon the issue.

Money is the key to lobbying, but Sharma also explained “it’s a combination of techniques, involving both direct and indirect lobbying.”

Unlike other nations, India has the benefit of lobbying not only through the embassy and by hiring lobbyists, but also a strong Indian diaspora. The Indian-American community’s professional success, organizational strength, and passion to work for better US-India relations have been significant factors.

There was little lobbying by India during the Cold War, but that changed in the 90s as Sharma recalls:

But its full strength was seen during the signing of the nuclear deal which was passed overwhelmingly at both stages in the US Congress. It reflected the strength, resources, leadership and extraordinary coordination between the segments of Indian lobbying: the Indian-American community and their political, professional and business organizations, the India Caucus, the lobbying firms hired by the Indian government and the Indian Mission in Washington.

During passage of that nuclear deal, USIBC (US-India Business Council) hired Patton Boggs, one of the leading firms in Washington; the Indian government hired Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, headed by former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, and the Venable Law Firm.

Reportedly, Patton Boggs was paid $5 million. By contrast, Judas only received 30 pieces of silver.

More than 25% of many U.S.A. STEM job categories are currently held by H-1B Visa holders, while highly-trained American are unemployed or underpaid.


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