Newly Elected Indian Prime Minister Makes Promising First Visit to U.S.14 Oct 2014
For the United States to continue as a leader of technological innovations, the importance of being able to draw from India’s huge pool of talented software engineers eligible for H1B visas cannot be overstated. And, with a projected shortage of 1.5 million software engineers in the United States over the next ten years, our reliance on innovative Indian tech workers will only continue to grow. This makes the current tensions between the United States and India particularly troubling. Faltering economic growth in India, combined with America’s increased involvement in the conflicts raging in the Middle East, has moved the fostering of relations between the two nations further down on the list of priorities. Add to that a controversy last year following the arrest of a junior Indian diplomat in New York, considered unwarranted by many in the Indian government, and the result is that a once productive partnership between the world’s two biggest democracies has cooled significantly. [See What the United States Can Gain from Working Closer with India, by Vinod Dham, The Washington Post, 29.Sept.2014.] However, change may be on the horizon. In May 2014, India elected a new prime minister, Narendra Modi, in a landslide victory. He recently visited the U.S. for the first time to meet with President Obama in a promising effort to repair a strained relationship.
Modi’s summit conference with Obama is especially notable because, until his election as prime minister, he had been denied admission to the United States for nearly a decade. In 2005, Modi was officially banned from entering this country due to accusations that he failed to put a stop to rioting in which hundreds of Muslims were killed in the Indian state of Gujarat. Modi was chief executive of the state when the riots occurred in 2002, but has always denied any wrongdoing. Following the overwhelming victory of his conservative party this past spring, Obama was quick to congratulate the new prime minister and offer an invitation to the United States. This warm reception can be attributed, at least in part, to Modi’s emphasis on increasing Indian manufacturing, which is heavily reliant on American capital and technological advances. With India offering free access to its sizeable markets, it seems that a mutually beneficial partnership between the two nations is forming once again. [See U.S. Eager to Forget About New India Premier’s 2005 Visa Denial, by Shashank Bengali and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, 9.Sept.2014.]
The promise of a reinvigorated relationship between the United States and India comes just in time. As America’s thriving tech industry stands on the brink of a major workforce shortage, Prime Minister Modi’s willingness to move forward and forge an alliance may be the key to preserving our access to the skilled Indian engineers who have been so vital to our ability to innovate.
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