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BPO Backlash
<b>Apple software logs out of India</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->BANGALORE: The company that redefined the way we listen to music has decided to call it quits in India. Apple, known for its popular iPods, is pulling out its software development and support operations in India.

The company had commenced operations in April and hired about 30 people for its subsidiary, Apple Services India Pvt Ltd.

At a meeting on May 29, Apple announced its decision to lay off all its employees. Apple officials told them that "the company is revaluating its operations and has thought of pulling back its Indian operations".
"It started off with building dreams. We were not given any warning. They just told us the operations would now head back to the US," said a sacked employee.

India overhead are very high, plus politics.
<!--emo&:rocker--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rocker.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rocker.gif' /><!--endemo--> Soon, BPO employees will destress
Mini Joseph Tejaswi
[ 26 Aug, 2006 0019hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

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BANGALORE: Refresh, restart and relax. Well, these three words will redefine the life of call centre employees across the country this October when they take part in an initiative to tackle BOSS — Burn-Out Stress Syndrome.

The Switzerland-based Union Network International (UNI), an ILO-accredited body of call centre agents, and its Indian chapter, Union for ITES (Unites) Professionals, are planning a month-long destressing campaign, 'Stop the BOSS', to help BPO employees recoup.

The high stress level among the BPO employees is due to a multiplicity of factors — frequent shift changes and constant handling of calls from unfriendly and "sometimes rude" clients.

These have resulted in severe sleep-and-diet disorders, chronic and most-often-unexplained neck, back and body aches, and severe gastric complaints.

"More than the work pressure, what's causing stress is their work-dictated lifestyle and its fallout on their mental and physical wellbeing," said Chirayu Das, a psychosomatic analyst.

"During the campaign, we’ll cover 50 campuses in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Gurgaon, Noida, Delhi and Kolkata," said Unites Professionals general secretary Karthik Shekhar.

Aside of the destress campaign, Unites Professionals, with UNI's help, is planning to put a tight leash on unscrupulous BPO players — those who don't pay salaries or remit provident fund, do a Houdini act and shut shop overnight, don't follow work ethics, and deny employees ample physical and mental security.

"Stress stems from many quarters, and it's our duty to attend to all aspects of BPO employees' life and work. Therefore, we'll submit a memorandum to IT and labour ministers, and police commissioners," Shekhar said.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->'Americans happy to lose jobs to India'

The Economic Times
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Washington - Americans may be complaining about losing jobs to
Indians through outsourcing, but a new study says it is a net plus for
them with the US getting at least $50 billion more through insourcing.

The US is also winning the global race for talent with immigrants
comprising 12 to 26 per cent of the workforce in key occupations, while
the nation maintains a low 4.8 per cent jobless rate, says the study
by the US Chamber of Commerce.

Overwhelmingly Americans benefit from the nation's openness to
trade, foreign investment, immigrants, and international
visitors, says the study, "Global Engagement: How Americans Can Win
and Prosper in the Worldwide Economy".

"The world's most open major economy is also the world's most
successful and envied economy, and that's no accident," said Chamber
President and CEO Thomas Donohue releasing the report.

"The free flow of trade, talent, and capital across our borders puts
money and pay cheques directly into the hands of American workers,
families, and small businesses.

That is why we must never retreat behind the walls of fear and
isolation no matter how tough the global competition becomes."

The study concludes that the US economy will prosper if the nation
reforms its legal, regulatory, health, and educational systems
while remaining engaged in international markets.

Further efforts to knock down trade barriers, develop domestic energy
resources, secure the borders, and stop intellectual property crimes
are also needed.

Although some Americans have been harmed by global competition and
deserve assistance, critics have wrongly blamed trade for the
concerns facing many middle class Americans, according to the

"Critics have yet to explain how closing markets would expand the
American dream," the report states.

Among the report's findings:

o  Exports directly support 12 million US jobs and millions more
indirectly. Ninety-seven percent of all exporters are small and medium-
sized businesses. 

o  Imports benefit working and middle class families. Recent
tariff reductions have expanded the typical family's purchasing power
by $1,300 to $2,000 per year.

o  Foreign investors directly employ 5.1 million Americans and
tens of millions more indirectly.

<b>Data theft makes IT firm quit India </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New Delhi: After registering a case against an employee who had allegedly stolen data, the Gurgaon-based IT firm Acme Telepower Management waited for something to happen. A week later they have decided to stop operating out of India and move to Australia.

It seems like this is the beginning of a domino effect, even as India's antiquated police force tries to deal with new age crime like data theft.

Acme Telepower is claiming a national loss of Rs 750 crore. They are saying it's all because an ex-employee named Sachidanand Patnaik who allegedly stole research and handed it over to his new employer - a competitor in the power industry solutions space.

On Thursday, the board of Acme met after a Gurgaon Sessions court granted bail to Patnaik and decided it was time to pack their bags.

<b>"We are disappointed in the system. Patents and research are not protected, so we are not sure if the law will be able to protect us,” </b>GM Marketing, Acme, Sandeep Kashyap said.

<b>Acme employs around 1,100 people, who will be affected by the firm’s move to Australia that will happen over the next eight months.

Most of the 70 people in the Research and Development section will be the first to move. For the rest, the future is unclear.

According to Acme, only a small manufacturing operation will remain in India, but they say they will take care of their employees and that their reason for leaving is simple.</b>
<b>"The fact that the main accused has got bail and the others got a clean chit has disappointed us completely,” Kashyap said</b>.
<b>"If the reason they are leaving India is because the main accused has got bail, then it is contempt of court,” Patnaik's lawyer, Vakul Sharma said.</b>

<b>When people lost faith in the system in the past, there was little they could, outside of rallying against everything wrong with the world</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

This was expected, as India is on top of most corrupt country. No moral values left.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>The Indian BPO industry has been hit by some serious fraud charges in recent years.</b>

Global deals that run into billions, employers trying to squeeze maximum profit in a cut-throat market, hiring and firing hundreds and thousands of new empolyees every year - the growth in India's BPO industry has been fast and furious.

<b>So have been accidents.</b>

The Pune scam was the first among the many BPO frauds that made international headlines

In April 2005, five employees of MsourcE in Pune were arrested for allegedly pulling off a fraud worth nearly 2.5 crore rupees from the Citibank accounts of four New York-based account holders.

In June 2005, the British tabloid Sun, in a sting operation, purchased the bank account details of 1,000 Britons from Karan Bahree, an employee of Gurgaon-based BPO company Infinity E-Search.

The latest data theft hit India's IT capital Bangalore. In June 2006, Nadeem Kashmiri, an employee at HSBC's call center in Bangalore, sold the customer credit card information to a group of scamsters who used the information to siphon off nearly Rs 1.8 crore from bank accounts of UK-based customers.

While these incidents may be few and far between, they challenge the claims of the BPO industry that it follows strict international guidelines in India.
Yesterday in middle of night, my brother received a call from Reliance mobile help service. When he asked why they called? Help desk lady told him that we help desk staff were discussing ringtones and someone said your Ringtone is best so I called you to listen ringtone. He blasted at her and called Reliance Services to complain about nuisance by reliance staff.
If this is BPO standard, I don’t see this BPO fun will last long.
<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Manu Joseph God, sex and the BPOs
[ 23 Oct, 2006 0058hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
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But Barnabas could not break them up. Was he ever attracted to the girls he was trying to reform? They were beautiful, he was single and they were telling him personal things. Love blooms in such situations.

"Yes. But prayers saved me. Some girls even made passes at me. One girl says, 'you are capable of many things it seems, you must come to my house'. Another girl sat next to me in a very suggestive way. I prayed. And I told her that she was not gold that can be used often.

I told her, she was a diamond. She said, 'Cho Chweet'. Next day, she called me and said, 'Even a diamond is used sometimes'. I asked her if she would be willing to lead a frugal life, survive on porridge sometimes? I knew that would put her off."

Barnabas also studied the drug culture in the call centres. "They used to do all kinds of stuff," he says. "They had their own codes too. Boys and girls who wore a black thread around their neck with a glass pendant that had a weed design etched on it were the ones who were interested in buying or selling drugs."

About two years ago, Barnabas left his call centre interlude, having learned enough and to devote more time on his church activities. While Christian groups have been trying to reform its young, the Catholic Church in India, apart from priestly interactions with parishioners, has not taken a formal stand yet on the issue.

Father Francis Yeluvathingal who is attached to the Bishop House in Mumbai says, <b>"We do not condemn call centres. They are a very good source of income. But we are concerned about the Christian way of life too." </b>
Don't know that this is <i>meant</i> to be a BPO backlash against India, but it will affect India:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Lloyds closes Indian call centres</b>
UK's biggest provider of current accounts makes major U-turn. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Passage from India: bank switches its customer calls back to UK</b>

· Lloyds TSB union hails reversal as 'victory'
· Current account holders can ring local branch

Jill Treanor
Saturday March 3, 2007
The Guardian

Lloyds TSB, the UK's biggest provider of current accounts, is bowing to customer demands and moving calls back to the UK from a service centre in India.
The bank will even allow all of its current account customers to ring their local branches instead of a call centre in India which unions claim is unpopular.

This marks a U-turn for the bank which has routed its calls through India since 2004.

By allowing customers to call branches directly, Lloyds is also beginning to unravel a policy which began in 1994 when it opened its first call centre.

In the mid-1990s all the leading banks were opening call centres. The idea was to give customers 24-hour access to their account details beyond usual banking hours.

Eventually it meant that customers were increasingly discouraged and even prevented from calling branches directly. At the height of the dotcom boom there were even predictions that bank branches would become redundant, but this trend has been reversed of late.

Only the Royal Bank of Scotland, which owns NatWest, has continued to allow customers to call their branches directly and has advertised this relentlessly. It now appears that other banks are letting customers call their branches directly.

Barclays, which has 11.5m current accounts, is looking at ways to do this while HBOS, owner of Halifax and Bank of Scotland, is in the process of rolling out a facility for its 5 million customers to call branches.

The Lloyds TSB in-house union, the Lloyds TSB Group union, claimed that more than 400,000 Lloyds TSB customers had signed a petition saying they were opposed to having their financial arrangements handled abroad, although the bank insisted this was not the reason for the reversal.

The Lloyds TSB Mumbai call centre opened in 2004 and at its peak employed 700 staff. When it was opened, Lloyds shut a call centre in Newcastle with the loss of 968 jobs.

Steve Tatlow, assistant general secretary of the union, said: "This is a victory for common sense. Lloyds TSB's reputation has been seriously damaged because of customer dissatisfaction with having to deal with the India call centre, with customers and staff unable to understand each other."

Lloyds TSB has piloted the new scheme with 42 branches and will roll it out across 350 branches from March 7. The rest of its 2,000-strong network will be included from the start of April.

The bank's central centres take 2.25m calls a month and the bank insists only 5% of calls need to be directed to branches.

Sally Jones-Evans, managing director, telephone banking of Lloyds TSB, argued that it was changing its policy because of the introduction of an automated voice-recognition answering service last year, which had cut the number of queries to its call centres by 26% - considerably more than the 8% it had expected.

When the bank's 10 call centres in the UK were busy, customers were put through to an operation in Mumbai. The bank argues this overflow is no longer necessary.

Ms Jones-Evans indicated that the bank was unlikely to go on a recruitment drive as she insisted the change was a result of the use of the automated answering service.

When customers ring a central phone number they will be able to ask for their branch phone number and queries to the central number will be handled only by one of the bank's 10 service centres in the UK. Rivals suggested the change would cost Lloyds up to £30m although the bank would not comment any cost involved.

<b>Called to account</b>

<b>Barclays 11.5m current account holders</b>
Call centres in UK or India. Some customers can obtain mobile number of branch manager

<b>Lloyds TSB 13.5m</b>
From April, customers can ring branch directly or call centre in UK

<b>RBoS/NatWest 13.5m</b>
Customers able to call branch directly. No call centres overseas

<b>HSBC 8.5m </b>
50-50 chance of reaching UK call centre or overseas centre. No direct number for branches<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>UK customers unhappy with Indian call centres: Survey</b>
<b>During the last year, several banks and financial service and utility companies have "repatriated" their call centre services to the UK from India. These include Abbey, NatWest, Lloyds TSB, Aviva and Powergen
He said: "All the evidence shows that there are powerful forces pushing companies overseas, the fact that 40 per cent cost savings can be realized by doing that being the top of them.

"But difficulties have emerged in India. There are questions over the quality of service; turnover of staff according to research is about 75 per cent per annum."

Taylor added that while he did not believe that banks would start a wholesale restructuring of their operations, he said that there had been a "segmentation" of them, with premium accounts being dealt with at home, while standard accounts would continue to be dealt with abroad.

However, according to Ann-Marie Stagg, chairwoman of industry body, the Call Centre Management Association, the broad opinion was that overseas operations were still viable.

Meanwhile, a heart patient has criticised the National Health Service (NHS) after her treatment was delayed for months while she waited for her doctor's letter to be typed up in India.

Dorothy Nicol, 64, had an angiogram for a hole in her heart at the end of February. Her consultant at the Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire said he would write to her within a week outlining her treatment.

<b>But the letter was sent to India to be typed up and only arrived back at the hospital two months later. Nicol, from Christchurch, Dorset, is still waiting for her drug treatment to be prescribed while the letter and angiogram pictures are sent to her consultant at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, in Dorset.</b>

She said: "It's not the hospital I'm complaining about. It's the system. It's just ridiculous. The NHS is letting us down. I'm sure there's plenty of people in this country who can still type. But evidently it's cheaper to send it all the way to India by email to be typed up and sent back by email.

"It makes no sense at all to me. It may be cheaper, but it has been a nightmare waiting and waiting."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Even I am not happy, they don't understand "NO" and talk too much.
<b>Falling dollar pushing up costs of outsourcing to India</b>
<b>Rising Rupee claims first BPO victim</b>
Shivani  Shinde in Mumbai 
October 23, 2007

The rupee's appreciation against the dollar has claimed its first victim in  the business process outsourcing space.  US-based Spectrum Global Fund Administration, providing back-office  operations to hedge funds in the US and the UK, is closing its facilities in  India.
The company had started its operations in India two years ago. The company, which is based in Bangalore, has close to 100 employees. The  centre serves about 60-70 clients of the total 110 in the hedge fund sector. The company plans to close the centre by December-end.
"The decision has been taken by the US office. We have not been told about  the procedures. Negotiations as to what happens to the people working here is  yet to be conveyed by the head office," said a source close to the  development.
The company has cited reasons such as increasing attrition and rising costs for closing its Indian operations. When contacted, the Indian spokesperson said that negotiations were on and  the situation would be clear only in the next few days.
However, the concern among its Indian employees was that none of the team 
members were taken into confidence before taking this decision. Moreover, all 
the login IDs and email passwords have been deactivated.

"We are ready to help the company for a smooth transformation of the  operations to the US site. But we need to know what the company proposes for  us,"
said a source. The company plans to shift its offices in Chicago and  Ohio. Spectrum has around $33 billion in assets under administration, representing 110 hedge fund and fund of funds clients.

<b>Forrester Research, in a recent report, had mentioned that more than 60 per 
cent captive centres in India were struggling.</b>  Sudin Apte, senior analyst and country head (India), Forrester Research,  said, <b>"In the past two years, more than 300 North American and European  companies started their own offshore set-up to lower the cost of product  development or back-office operations. But we clearly see over 60 per cent of  them struggling due to spiralling costs, rising attrition, lack of integration  and management support." </b>

In the recent past, there have been news of various captive centres put on  the block, the most prominent being the Citigroup's BPO arm.
<!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo--> An employer who fires attracts bad reputation, and potential recruits may shy away from the company. So, here is a novel retrenching mechanism adopted by tech/BPO firms to get their unwanted staff out, very smartly and discreetly, sans any heartburn or negative media publicity.

It's called "out-placement"’ (placed out of the organization). See how it works.

Deepak Pradhan, a networking professional with a large IT company, got a job offer from an MNC through a headhunter although he was not scouting for a new job. Well, it was a "stagemanaged" offer by his own HR head, who had a mandate to cut 8 people from Pradhan’s team.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>TCS buys Citigroup's BPO arm for $505m </b>
PTI | Mumbai
IT major Tata Consultancy Services on Wednesday clinched the deal to acquire Citigroup Global Services Ltd, a large captive BPO of Citibank operating out of India, for $505 million, the company said.

The Citi unit, previously known as e-Serve International and listed on Indian stock exchanges before delisting in mid- 2004, was on the block for the last couple of years and many large international IT majors including the likes of IBM and Capegemini were reportedly in the race to acquire it.

<b>Besides the sale, Citi has also reached an agreement under which TCS will provide BPO services to the bank and its affiliates worth $2.5 billion over a period of nine-and-a- half years.</b>

"It is the biggest contract ever signed by an Indian company. It is one of its kind opportunity," TCS CEO and Managing Director S Ramadorai told reporters.

<b>Citigroup Global Services has been a bluechip company with revenues of $280 million and compounded annual growth rate of 27 per cent and operating margins at 20 per cent. The company employs over 12,000 people at units located in Mumbai, Chennai and Gurgaon. </b>
<span style='color:red'>Satyam banned from offshoring work with World Bank: Report</span>

11 Oct, 2008, 1228 hrs IST, AGENCIES

NEW YORK: Software major Satyam Computer Services has reportedly been banned from doing any off-shore work with the World Bank after forensic experts and bank investigators discovered that spy software was covertly installed on workstations inside the bank's Washington headquarters, allegedly by one or more contractors from Satyam Computer Services.

According to a FOX News report, apart from Satyam, two IP intrusions have been reported from China, and there have been six intrusions in all.

Investigators say that the software, which operates through a method known as keystroke logging, enabled every character typed on a keyboard to be transmitted to a still-unknown location via the Internet.

Upon its discovery, bank officials shut off the data link between Washington and Chennai, where Satyam has long operated the bank's sole offshore computer center responsible for all of the bank's financial and human resources information.

"I want them off the premises now," World Bank President Robert Zoellick reportedly told his deputies. But at the urging of CIO De Poerck, Satyam employees remained at the bank as recently as October 1 while it engaged in "knowledge transfer" with two new India-based contractors.

Satyam is publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange and boasts having two billion dollars in sales and more than 150 Fortune 500 companies as clients.

In 2003, Satyam won a lucrative five-year "sole source" contract to design, write and maintain all of the World Bank's information systems. The contract, which began at 10 million dollars, had grown to over 100 million dollars by 2007. This year, the contract was not renewed. Satyam has declined to comment.

FOX News claims that outsiders have raided the World Bank Group's computer network, one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation, repeatedly for more than a year.

It is still not known how much information was stolen. But sources inside the bank confirm that servers in the institution's highly restricted treasury unit were deeply penetrated with spy software last April. Invaders also had full access to the rest of the bank's network for nearly a month in June and July.

The crisis comes at an awkward moment for Zoellick, who runs the world's largest and most influential anti-poverty agency, which doles out 25 billion dollars a year, and whose board represents 185 member nations.

This weekend, the bank holds its annual series of meetings in Washington, and just in advance of those sessions, Zoellick called for a radical revamping of multilateral organizations in light of the global economic meltdown.

Zoellick is positioning himself and the bank as an institution that can help chart a new path toward global financial stability. But that reputation, more than ever, depends on the bank's stable information infrastructure.

According to internal memos, "a minimum of 18 servers has been compromised," including some of the bank's most sensitive systems, ranging from the bank's security and password server to a Human Resources server "that contains scanned images of staff documents."

One World Bank director told FOX News that as many as 40 servers have been penetrated, including one that held contract-procurement data.

It took ten days for bank officials to detect that they'd been invaded. Once they did, they shut down all external servers, except for e-mail, which it turns out the invaders were already using as their entrance point.

A World Bank spokesman, however, rubbished the Fox News story, saying it is riddled with falsehoods and errors.

<b>Indian H-1B visa techies in US may lose jobs in MS</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The world's biggest software company has been asked by an influential Republican Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, to first fire foreign workers hired on H-1B visas, a majority of whom are Indians, while implementing the layoff plan and "protect" the jobs of Americans.

An indication that foreigners who also include Indians could be targetted during the layoffs came when a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement said, "We care about all our employees, so we are providing services and support to try to help every affected worker, whether they are US workers or foreign nationals working in this country on a visa."
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Microsoft lays off staff electronically</b>
Read this once - you're unemployed
Written by Angelica Mari
Computing, 26 Jan 2009
Microsoft ditched traditional redundancy notices in favour of sending encoded, read-only emails when it laid off 1,400 staff last week, according to gossip web site ValleyWag.

<b>It was reported that the unprintable notice, which used restrictions similar to those in place to prevent file-sharing, was not preceded by any line management or HR meetings to let employees know their services were no longer required</b>.

A previous case of "cyber-firing" happened two years ago, when US electronics retailer RadioShack notified 400 employees by email that they were being laid off.

And the redundancy process seems to have found innovation via other tools – two years ago, it was reported that Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich fired coach José Mourinho via SMS.
<b>AP Investigation: Banks sought foreign workers</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->As the economic collapse worsened last year -- with huge numbers of bank employees laid off -- the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in the 2007 budget year to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.
David Huber of Chicago is a computer networking engineer who has testified to Congress about losing out on a 2002 job with the former Bank One Corp. <b>He learned later the bank applied to hire dozens of foreign visa holders for work he said he was qualified to do</b>.

"<b>American citizenship is being undermined working in our own country,"</b> Huber said in an AP interview.

Beyond seeking approval for visas from the government, banks that accepted federal bailout money also enlisted uncounted foreign workers, <b>often in technology jobs, through intermediary companies known as "body shops." Such businesses are the top recipients of the H-1B visas.</b>

The use of visa workers by ailing banks angers Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

<b>"In this time of very, very high unemployment ... and considering the help these banks are getting from the taxpayers, they're playing the American taxpayer for a sucker,"</b> Grassley said in a telephone interview with AP.

Grassley, with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is pushing for legislation to make employers recruit American workers first, along with other changes to the visa program.

Jennifer Scott of Yreka, Calif., a retired technical systems manager at Bank of America in Concord, Calif., said in 2004 <b>she oversaw foreign employees from a contractor firm that also sent overnight work to employees in India</b>.

<b>"It had nothing to do with a shortage, but they didn't want to pay the U.S. rate," she said, adding that the quality of the work was weak. "</b><b>It's all about numbers crunching."</b>
<b>H-1B hiring ban sought for US cos getting bailout</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Washington In what could be worrying for Indian software professionals, two US Senators have introduced amendments to the economic stimulus bill, which if passed would prevent US companies receiving the federal bailout money, from hiring H-1B visa holders.
The amendment if approved by the Senate would have an immediate impact on Indian software professionals, as it is they who are the major beneficiary of the H-1B visa program.

An amendment in this regard has been co-sponsored by the Republican Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley and the Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.

Introducing the amendment on the floor of the Senate, Senator Sanders said:<b> "It is essentially saying that there would be a suspension of H-1B program of any institution, which would be receiving TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) funds for just one year." </b>

Seeking bi-partisan support to his amendment, Sanders said: <b>"I firmly believe that companies going through layoffs that employ H-1B visas (holding workers) have a moral obligation to protect American workers by putting them first during these difficult times." </b>

Sanders also quoted a recent
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Immigration boom ends</b>
Rajeev Srinivasan
With the financial meltdown, the immigrant’s dream of making it big in a foreign land has begun to turn sour. Indians working abroad have started to feel the heat and are returning home in droves. <b>The worst-hit State is Kerala: Thousands of Keralites are being rendered jobless in the Gulf countries</b>

The relatively free movement of labour across borders for the last few decades has generally had a positive impact on many countries because of the large remittances sent home by expatriates. In India, Kerala has been the biggest beneficiary, its relative prosperity sustained by its sons and daughters toiling away in the Gulf countries or in hospitals around the world. But it looks like the global recession is beginning to seriously hurt international migration, and many migrants are being forced to go home again.

Immigration is a sensitive issue, and passions run high, often bringing out the worst in people: And racism surely is a part of it. <b>An Indian immigrant named Navtej Singh Sidhu was set on fire while sleeping on a park bench in Italy recently. Racist violence against Roma (or Gypsies) is increasing — although they have lived in Europe for centuries, they are discriminated against as outsiders and non-Whites. Russian skinheads have been convicted of killing 20 migrants — mostly non-Whites</b>.

Migration is cyclical: In the good times, people want to have outsiders come in and do the dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs they themselves disdain, but then they expect these gastarbeiter to disappear quietly when times get rough. That is easier said than done, as they have set down roots and their children have grown up in the host countries.

The Americans hit upon a perfect solution in the 19th century. They wanted Chinese labour for their drive westwards towards the Pacific, in particular for building the continent-spanning railroads. But they didn’t want these people ‘polluting’ their societies. So they were forced into ghetto Chinatowns. They were not allowed to own property, marry White women, or bring Asian wives. In other words: Come, toil, and die. <b>The Asian Exclusion Act was law. </b>

Indians too suffered — some found their hard-won US citizenship revoked, and in the Komagata Maru incident,<b> a shipful of immigrants from Punjab was turned away by the US and Canada</b>. Even more notorious was the decision to turn back a shipful of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. After immigration reform in 1962, though, Americans have been far more liberal.

Immigration has become a worldwide phenomenon in the last few decades. <b>Some 200 million people — that is around three per cent of the world’s population — are now migrants. There are 20 million overseas Chinese and a comparable number of overseas Indians.</b> In several Western countries, immigrants account for more than 10 per cent of the population. And they send a lot of money home. According to the World Bank, remittances were around $ 283 billion in 2007. <b>Both India and China get around $ 30 billion each. </b>

No wonder people still migrate. The saga of Latin American immigration to the US — as in the tragic film El Norte — is well known. Despite the perils of dealing with brutal ‘coyotes’ (smugglers who have been known to rob, rape and murder), sadistic border patrol agents and the constant fear of being deported, or worse, they still keep coming, wading across the Rio Grande. Or at least they used to, until recently. The Economist reports that emigration to the US from Mexico has slumped by 42 per cent in 2008 as compared to 2006. News of the recession has spread.

Historical data shows that previous recessions have dramatically reduced immigration into the US. After decades of high immigration, post-Depression America allowed practically nobody to immigrate legally. There was a notable spike in legal immigration in the 1990s, and levels have continued to be high in the 2000s. But this is likely to change. The welcome mat is getting a little frayed, and, with Democrats in power, protectionism is definitely in the air.

There are at least a couple of provisions in America’s $ 900 billion stimulus package that are protectionist — one deals <b>with H1-B visa holders, another was the now-diluted ‘buy American’ provision in the Senate version of the Bill. The H1-B provisions, which were also diluted, mandate that companies that use such workers will be under far more scrutiny than before</b>.

In effect, and coupled with the noises being made in the wake of the Satyam scandal, this means that outsourcing itself is under attack, and that there should be ‘American jobs for American citizens’.<b> The H1-B techie can take it to mean, “Welcome to America, now go home”.</b>

Well-paid technology workers will be forced to return to India. This is in conjunction with significant problems in the Gulf countries, specifically Dubai, which doesn’t have any oil. Construction, finance, trade — they are all taking a beating. Kerala is full of stories of people returning under economic duress.

<b>Apparently 40 Indian international schools have shut down; it is said that families are driving to the airport with all they can carry, abandoning their cars (and their car and home loans) and flying back to India. There are reports that 10,000 people have already left for India, and 55,000 construction-related jobs are in jeopardy.</b> The Harvard Business Review said last September that four million Keralites are in the Gulf countries and in 2007 their remittances accounted for <b>20 per cent of Kerala’s GDP. </b>

The story of Kerala’s mass migration has been described as the ‘Kerala model’ of development. But that is an exaggeration. It is just a money-order economy. Will Kerala show severe withdrawal symptoms? Furthermore, whatever will the Kerala economy — notoriously lax in creating jobs — do with all these able-bodied people who are returning home?
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>H1-B visa bar threatens over 1 lakh Indians US job prospects</b>
PTI | Washington
<b>Nearly 100,000 skilled Indian workers' prospects of living the American dream may turn sour with the Congress barring firms that received bailout money from hiring foreigners through HI-B visa programme if they replace US citizens.</b>

Estimates suggest that there are 100,000 Indian nationals among the 163,000 from across the world that had applied for the skilled worker visa in FY2009.

The US has capped the H1-B visa at 65,000 a year, out of which 40,000-45,000 generally goes to Indian professionals, mostly from the IT industry.

<b>Restricting hiring of H1-B visa holders forms part of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, widely known as the stimulus bill, that was passed by the Congress yesterday.</b>

With thousands of jobs being cut by US companies almost daily over the past few months, there have been widespread apprehensions that these positions could go to low-cost foreign workers or might be outsourced to places like India.

The government data for 2008 shows that about 5.7 lakh Indians were issued H1-B and other non-immigrant visas.

The bar comes even as IT firms in the US and India are demanding an increase in the H1-B visa cap, which was cut from 195,000 to the present level two years ago. Indians then accounted for over 100,000 H1-B visas. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

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