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How Obama can help IT Inc

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As the first Black President Barack Hussein Obama steps into the White House, he inherits an economy mired in a recession that could be the worst since the Great Depression. Among the numerous challenging that the new Prez faces, none seems as pressing as reviving the troubled economy.

In the past few months, the country has lost lakhs of jobs and the number is accelerating. The housing crisis, credit crunch, the list of economic pain points seems to be growing. In this gloomy scenario, Obama shows hope. As he said in his speech, “The challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met.”

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IT Inc's wishlist for Barack Obama

India Inc too hopes that the new President will help deepen India-US economic ties. The industry also wishes that the US' tech-savvy president supports the role of Indian companies in America's healthcare and software sector. Here's a wishlist of India IT sector from the new regime at White House.

More H1B visas

What clearly tops the Indian IT Inc's wishlist is an increase in the number of H1B visas. As NASSCOM said in its congratulatory message to the Obama administration, “shares many of the same economic and diplomatic goals outlined by President-elect Obama during the course of his campaign. Specifically, we support expanding the H1B visa program so that highly skilled workers can help companies lead the way on innovation and contribute additional jobs and economic growth in the United States. “

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However, during his campaigns Obama focussed on preserving jobs for US citizens and is against companies lobbying the system to secure visas for employees. He said that he would support "comprehensive immigration reform", including the H1-B visa programme "to attract some of the world's most talented people to America".

As Obama's tech paper says on the issue: An Obama administration will invest in human capital to ensure that our young people have the skills to fill the growing number of information technology jobs being created globally, and will also support pilot programmes that provide incentives for businesses to grow their information technology workforce in inner-cities and rural communities.

Obama says that he wants to make "immigrant workers less dependent on their employers for their right to stay in the country, and would hold accountable employers who abuse the system and their workers".

Outsourcing booster

Obama's conservative stance on outsourcing poses a threat to the growing Indian IT industry already reeling under the effects of the turbulent global economic crisis.

India Inc hopes that the business benefits and necessity of outsourcing will help mould Obama's stand. As CII Chief Mentor Tarun Das said, "Obama's concern over saving American jobs is fair but not discouraging outsourcing. We hope there will be no interference with the normal processes of business between Indian and American companies."

FICCI in its own wishlist for Obama stated that, "We expect Obama to view outsourcing as a business decision for US companies especially in the current situation where costs will play an important role. A US Chamber of Commerce study shows that 74 per cent of the benefits of outsourcing actually go to US companies."

Earlier, during his campaigns Obama advocated ending tax breaks for companies that ship US jobs overseas. His tech paper says on the subject, "An Obama administration will foster home-grown innovation and ensure that we can retain and grow high-paying jobs in fast-growing sectors in the sciences and technology rather than exporting those jobs to lower cost labor markets abroad. As offshoring becomes more of a long-term workforce management strategy and less of a perceived short-term cost savings, it presents a significant challenge to young people growing up in America’s historically low-income and working-class communities."

Though to the much relief of Indian IT Inc Obama clarified his stand and said, "We know that we cannot and should not put up walls around our economy." Acknowledging that global competition is a fact that cannot be reversed, Obama said, "But we must find a way to make globalisation and trade work for American workers."

IT infrastructure development

President Obama's economic stimulus plan is expected to include $700 billion to $800 billion in new investments. Analysts speculate that much of this will go to the technology sector. Prior to his inaugural address, Obama also hinted at steps that his administration would take in improving IT for Americans, including digitizing health care records and increasing broadband deployment in rural and unserved areas of the country.

And just like analysts, India Inc too hopes that the economy stimulus may help revive IT spending. As FICCI in its wishlist emphasised on the critical role of Indian IT companies in America's economy.

In a statement, FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra said, "Engagement of Indian industry in President Obama's plans to spend large amounts for infrastructure development, IT and skill formation in the US, engagement of Indian industry with US in the healthcare and software domains and engagement of Indian companies and government with the US for launching a second green revolution will come as a big boost."

Tackle recession

Barack Obama has stepped into the White House at a time when the US economy is facing one of its most trying times. The massive jobs cuts and bankruptcy filing by some of the biggest industry icons point out to the grave economic environment.

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Hopes are high that Obama administration will help pull out the economy from the dismal state it is in. The new Prez too seems to have economy high on his agenda, as he said in his address, "The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."

In the present world, where no country is immune to the ups and downs in the global economy, the revival of US economy is sure to energise Indian economy. The improvement in the US economy is sure to benefit Indian IT industry which earns majority of its business from US.

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