Indian IT industry experts feel that the new regime under the US president-elect, Joe Biden, is expected to be a positive sign for the industry. Many feel that Biden in his terms as vice-president of the US did not seem to have any dislike for either India or the immigrant Indian-Americans. It is likely that Biden's regime is expected to give importance to the technology skill sets and economic growth in the US. This, in turn, is likely to give thrust towards IT spending, thereby increasing the prospects of the Indian IT services companies in the US. It is also being believed that Democrats may not be too hard on the immigration front and this may benefit the movement of the Indian IT professionals for project-related work visas.
Indian IT industry body NASSCOM has termed the development a positive one. It has stated that NASSCOM member companies work with over three quarters of the Fortune 500 companies in the US and provide them vital technology services.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of the technology sector has become even more indispensable: Maintaining critical infrastructure including the health infrastructure; working on molecules for development of the COVID-19 vaccine; promoting employees to work remotely; securing and servicing networks, data centres and cloud services; keeping students engaged via online education; to name a few. A key challenge the sector faces is the lack of required STEM talent in the US, clearly highlighted by the high degree of overall unemployment on one hand, and more than half-million job vacancies in computer occupation on the other. NASSCOM looks forward to working together with the new US administration to find solutions to the STEM skills gap, and enable America to be more competitive, to grow and create more jobs,” said a NASSCOM statement.
Experts have said that the Indo-US relations have seen a steady and progressive growth over the last two decades and is unlikely to see any major change. Some however feel that an immediate reversal on the H1B policy may not be on the cards and it may take time. “The conflict with China and measures taken in the Trump era on H1B may not see any reversal in policy given the push towards local employment and the constraints of reuniting a bruised America during the pandemic and the recent torrid elections. At the same time, COVID-driven remote working may play the role of Santa for Indian IT sector in terms of not losing contractual volumes even though it may impact pricing partially,” remarked Subramanyam Sreenivasaiah, CEO at Ascent HR.
Undoubtedly, a lion’s share of Indian IT exports is to the US, and H-1B and L-1 visas are critical to this bilateral economic trade between the two nations. “Biden at the helm is a positive sign for Indian IT as Democrats have been always liberal to the issue of immigration. Also, the Biden and Harris administration is poised to take significant steps in meeting the global IT sector’s goal of increasing diversity, and women participation and that’s something I am excited to see,” Ravi Kaklasaria, CEO and Founder of SpringPeople, told THE WEEK.
It is also observed that the Biden regime recognises the multitude of challenges facing the US, right from COVID-19, old infrastructure in some of their cities, job losses and the social divide to external relations with countries and visa programmes. It is expected after they take over, they may take at least three-four months to act on the demands of business to make them competitive.
“While Democrats aren’t particularly known to be liberal with immigration laws and visa programmes, given the extreme stances already taken by the previous regime, they are most likely to relax them a bit in order to accelerate automation and digitisation programmes of the American industry,” pointed out Aditya Narayan Mishra, director and CEO of CIEL HR Services.
Some feel that Indian IT's competitive advantage will be structural in nature and is hence, much beyond the vagaries of Democrat and Republican presidential policies. “Two trends are likely to unfold under the Biden presidency that will be propitious for Indian IT industry. The first will be shift to higher economic growth. As is evident from the past, higher economic growth has a salutary effect on IT spends. And the second trend that will play to India's advantage will be a more benign visa regime. Both these trends augur well for Indian IT industry,” said Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting.
A few experts point out that while the Joe Biden administration is expected to relax restrictions on the work visa programmes, many things may need to be closely watched. “Joe Biden is likely to act against outsourcing by technology companies and this will hurt Indian IT unless it is done strategically. The IT industry fortunes are tied to the growth of US technology companies. Although Joe Biden has not been very vocal on this, there are indications his policies will increase domestic consumption of IT products and improve access to the global markets,” remarked S. Sudhindra, Associate Dean (Academics), Professor and Chair, Information Systems and Technology, T A Pai Management Institute.