Indian tech companies using H-1B visas to send cheaper engineers to the US to displace American workers is a “mistake”, Cisco Systems Inc Chairman John Chambers said today. Chambers, who is also the chairman of the newly formed US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said it is important that jobs are created in both countries to ensure sustainable growth and they can work together to create opportunities in each nation. “We have to be careful not to misstep. You cannot go in and take a whole bunch of H-1B visas and displace 500 American workers because you can do it at lower costs. That was just a mistake. I think we have to focus on investment,” he told a select group of journalists here.
The chairman of the biggest maker of equipment that runs the Internet said employment has to be created in both countries as it is “not a win-lose” situation. “Both countries can have dramatic job creation by working together and then, you have to articulate when that occurs,” said Chambers, who is in the town for formal unveiling of USISPF.
India is pressing the American government to continue H- 1B visa programme that has allowed information technology companies to send skilled workers to the US. The Trump administration, however, says the visa programme favours foreign workers at the expense of American jobs. IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Cognizant and Wipro use such visa to service American customers. The US accounts for more than 60 per cent of the USD 120 billion outsourcing industry.
The US has in past accused Infosys and TCS of “unfairly” cornering the lions share of the H-1B work visas.
Over the past few quarters, Indian IT companies have ramped up their efforts of hiring more locals in the US.
India is a key market for Cisco and is witnessing a double-digit growth here. The US-based company has about 11,000 employees in India, with a majority of them in R&D roles.
“We are going to hire in both locations (India and the US) and so will other companies. India is a great place to invest, it’s great market but is also a great source of well- educated resources,” Chambers said.
He added that the two countries can work together to grow much faster together.
Earlier this year, Cisco started manufacturing operations in Pune and had said that it eventually plans to scale it up to make India an export hub.
Chambers explained that when an Indian company hires 10,000 Americans in the US or Cisco hires in India, the same needs to be “articulated” and that USISPF would play that role.
“We are not at all a lobbying organsition… we are a strategic organisation, a forum that is focussed on how both countries can be successful,” he added.
USISPF, which includes prominent names like Indra Nooyi (Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo) and Ajay Banga (President and CEO, MasterCard), aims to promote the bilateral trade.
Chambers said USISPF will work on creating meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens.
“We will work closely together with businesses and government leaders to achieve the goals of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship,” he added.
Chambers also lauded various steps taken by the Narendra Modi government in India like demonetisation and GST. He said these will help India in creating a “sustainable” economy.