Trenton: Several Indian-American IT professionals held two rallies in the US on Tuesday. They were demanding an end to the long and massive green card backlog by eliminating per-country limit quota.
GCReforms organised the rallies over the weekend in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Participants argued that per country quota on issuing of Green Cards per annum was the main reason for the backlog.
The protesters displayed posters with ‘Remove Per-Country Limits for employment based Green cards’, ‘300,000 waiting for 90 years’ and ‘What did I do wrong?’
“It’s high time the Congress, the Senate and the White House administration worked on this issue and solved the problem of high-skilled immigrants,” GCReforms said in a statement.
Having a green card allows a person to live and work permanently in the US.
Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled, come to the US mainly on H-1B work visas. They are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of green cards or permanent legal residency.
As a result, the current wait period for Indian skilled immigrants for green card can be as long as 70 years.
At the Pennsylvania rally, three children — Leela Pinnamaraju, Siva Pragallapati and Venkat Daita — shared the stories of H4 Kids and how they will become out of status at the age of 21.
They requested lawmakers to treat all kids equally in the current immigration discussion. Kids who came to the US legally with their parents who work in US companies should also have a pathway for citizenship.
New Delhi: Following objections raised by the opposition and some journalists to BJP information technology head Amit Malviya’s tweet this Tuesday announcing the date of Karnataka Assembly election, which was posted before the Election Commission announced the date, he has issued a letter of clarification to the commission to explain what had transpired behind the tweet.
The Chief Election Commissioner had to face this question from a journalist during the press conference where he made the announcement officially. “We will find out what happened and a full investigation will be launched. Let us not speculate on what they have,” Rawat said.
After the press conference, Rawat reiterated that the EC will not take the matter lightly. “Certain things may have leaked for which Election Commission will take appropriate action. It will be investigated. Be assured that actions legally and administratively befitting will be taken.”
Malviya deleted the tweet on coming to know from the press meet of the EC that he had got the date of announcement of the election result wrong.
The head of BJP’s IT cell wrote in the letter that he had evidence of the misleading news on Times Now, which had inspired his tweet.
Letter submitted to the Election Commission by Shri @malviyamit, National In-charge, Information and Technology, BJP regarding a tweet pertaining to the election dates in Karnataka. https://t.co/0mDUFzOKCH pic.twitter.com/CziIhciO2B
— BJP (@BJP4India) March 27, 2018
Malviya said that the social media in-charge of the Karnataka unit of the INC had made the same mistake, perhaps due to the same source of (mis)information.
Words such as “apology” or “regret” have been carefully avoided in the letter. However, Malviya said he respected the EC’s prerogative in such issues.
Exclusive: Before Malviya, there was Mahajan
It may be recalled that the BJP’s 2004 campaign had got affected due to a similar show of over-enthusiasm by Pramod Mahajan. Normally, the EC takes all parties into confidence before deciding upon the date or dates of an election. In such a meeting, the BJP leaders who had met with the EC of the time got the impression that the election would be conducted in March that year.
Mahajan shared this privileged information with a group of journalists. The EC took it as an act of encroachment upon its territory. In what appeared as its reaction of asserting its authority, the EC announced subsequently that the election would be conducted in April.
The BJP’s advertising campaign “India Shining” was planned in a manner that it would peak at the time of the polls. Due to the delay, the impact of the promotional activity lessened. Worse, it became monotonous, the then media manager of the BJP informed Sirf News. “The opposition got an opportunity to mock at our campaign, and soon they were able to influence voters whose lives hadn’t improved much although the economy, on the whole, was performing well,” Amitabh Sinha, who now practices law at the Supreme Court, High Court and other courts, away from the humdrum of politics, said.
Sinha, the media in-charge of the BJP during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee years, regrets the fact that the campaign that had received accolades from international business schools flopped because of Mahajan’s overzealous conduct.
Washington: US technology trade groups representing Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google have urged the Trump administration to retain an Obama-era rule that allows some spouses of of H-1B visa holders, including Indians, to also work legally in America.
Groups including the Information Technology Industry Council, the US Chamber of Commerce and BSA-The Software Alliance wrote to Citizenship and Immigration Services to urge the government to keep the H-4 programme which allows the spouses of H-1B holders with pending green cards to legally work in the US.
The Trump Administration is reportedly moving ahead with its decision not to give work permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders, arguing that this displaces genuine American workers.
“As the Trump Administration conducts its review of the H-4 rule, we respectfully encourage you and your colleagues to maintain the program given its importance to the business community and to the American economy,” said the lobbying and advocacy groups and business bodies.
The letter addressed to Lee Francis Cissna, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said: “It is a function of the failure to reform our nation s immigration system that this group of H-4 spouses the majority of whom are women continue to face uncertainty and may be prevented from working while they wait for bureaucratic backlogs to be cleared.”
The Obama era H-4 rule extends employment authorisation eligibility for a limited subset of H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant employees seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status or Green card.
The rule had helped thousands of Indians.
The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers. This work visa is highly popular among Indian IT professionals.
According to the letter, the H-4 rule has limited unnecessary disruptions to businesses by ameliorating economic and personal hardships resulting from the lack of spousal work authorisation previously faced by many H-1B employees and their families as they obtain LPR status.
As of October 2017, the USCIS reported that there are an estimated 133,502 individuals with pending employment-based adjustment of status applications in the United States.
“The current demand for visas under certain employment- based preference categories and the application of the per- country quotas currently produce wait times of a decade or more for certain individuals and their families.
“Ultimately, a legislative solution is required to remove the per-country limits that have caused this green card backlog,” the letter said.
A 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration allows work permits for spouses who otherwise couldn t be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status a process that can take a decade or longer.
New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on 13 January set up a panel to suggest amendments to a provision in the election law barring campaigning 48 hours ahead of polling, following complaints that it has failed to keep pace with information technology.
The panel will be headed by senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha. It will have eight other members from the EC.
The committee will have one member each from the law ministry, IT ministry and the information and broadcasting ministry. Two others will be from the Press Council of India and the National Broadcasters Association.
The panel will submit its report to the poll watchdog in the next three months.
The committee will “examine these provisions in the prevailing context of communication technologies and suggest required changes”, it said.
The move to set up the committee came in the wake of controversies over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s FICCI meeting, Rahul Gandhi’s TV interviews and the release of BJP manifesto — all after campaigning had ended in Gujarat.
The poll panel accepted that Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act does not take into account the revolution in communication technologies.
“It appears imperative to revisit the provisions relating to the last 48 hours before completion of poll to appropriately address challenges unleashed by fast changing technologies in the context of multi-phase polls,” the EC had said.
New Delhi: Two parliamentary panels on Thursday examined the controversy over ‘Padmavati’, as its director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who appeared before one of them, rejected allegations that it distorted history, holding that the film was fictional and based on a nearly 500-year-old poem.
It was perhaps for the first time that any parliamentary panel deliberated on a film before it had been approved by the censor board.
While Bhansali and censor board chief Prasoon Joshi appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, Joshi also presented himself before the Parliamentary panel on petitions.
The standing committee on IT, which is mandated to look into issues relating to the Information and Broadcasting ministry, has given Bhansali two weeks’ time to submit a written reply, an MP present at the meeting said.
The two committees are headed by BJP MPs.
During his nearly 3-hour-long interaction with members of the panel on IT, Bhansali said the film was fictional and based on sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavat, believed to have been written in 1540.
The Bollywood director’s response came after some members of the committee asked him how the film, depicting characters and incidents from history, could be termed fictional, the MP said.
Is it not a case of distorting history, another member questioned Bhansali, the MP added.
Bhansali said the controversy had been triggered by rumours.
The members asked him why the film had been screened before sections of the media, and wanted to know if it had been done to influence the censor board, sources said.
“How could you assume that the movie would be released on December 1 when you applied to the CBFC on November 11? As per the cinematography act, the CBFC may take 68 days before certifying a movie,” a member said.
Some members wanted to know if creating a controversy was a way of selling a film, the sources added.
The panel said the media, including social media, was giving free space to the film because of the ongoing controversy.
The sources said a few members also claimed Bhansali’s films tended to “target” communities, triggering tensions.
Censor board chief Joshi, appearing before the Parliamentary panel on petitions, said the board had not approved the film and will consult experts for this.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief further told the panel that he was yet to see the film.
The process of film certification was underway, a member present at the meeting quoted Joshi as saying.
Later, Joshi also appeared before the Parliamentary standing committee on IT, headed by the BJP’s Anurag Thakur.
Among the members present on Thursday were senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and Congress MP Raj Babbar.
The Parliamentary panel on petitions is headed by Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Besides him, two BJP MPs Om Birla and C P Joshi, who had moved the petition on the issue, were present at the meeting, apart from other members.
Various Rajput groups and political leaders have accused Bhansali of distorting history by filming a romantic dream sequence between Rajput queen Padmini and Sultan Alauddin Khilji, a claim repeatedly denied by the filmmaker.
Historians are divided on whether Padmavati actually existed.
The makers, who have deferred the release till it is cleared by the CBFC, recently applied for a 3D certification.
The sets of the film were vandalised twice — in Jaipur and Kolhapur — and director Bhansali was roughed up by members of the Karni Sena, a fringe Rajput group, earlier this year.
The Karni Sena and sections of the BJP have been critical of the film, which has already been banned in some BJP-ruled states.
Kolkata: The recent announcement that India’s top information technology company Infosys will invest Rs 100 crore for setting up its new campus at Rajarhat on the outskirts of Kolkata has come as one of the best news for West Bengal at such a critical juncture of its journey towards an economic recovery. This view was expressed here by a number of leading Industrial houses in the State on Wednesday while heartily welcoming Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s formal announcement in this regard Tuesday evening.
Describing the decision of Infosys to come back to West Bengal after a lot of hesitation and backtracking from its earlier decision to withdraw from the State — even after acquiring 50 acres of land at Rajarhat way back in 2010 — as a very timely decision, several leading business experts felt that such an unexpected deal would not only work as a confidence building measure for rest of the industry, but also become a trendsetter for many others who might be encouraged to follow the example.
According to N Chandramouli, chief executive officer of TRA Research, “When a company like Infosys decides to invest in West Bengal after so many parleys that have happened for over a decade, it brings back hope in a big way to the industry and also to the citizens, as it will create the much-needed business and employment in the State”.
The signing of the deal would also create a very positive image of Chief Minister Banerjee who had shown her resolve as a business friendly leader after a new image developed about her in the wake of Singur imbroglio, he said.
For Infosys, it is a good opportunity to show its ability to be a first mover through this deal notwithstanding its dithering over the issue, the experts pointed out. They hoped Wipro, one of the earliest entrants in West Bengal, will soon invest more in the State, providing, together with Infosys, thousands of jobs.
One could also expect TCS to follow subsequently, opening the door to huge employment opportunities for the State’s educated youth, the experts felt. They said that such a scenario portends well for Banerjee and Bengal.
Also welcoming the appointment of Nandan Nilekani as the new non-executive chairman of Infosys, the experts said it had already generated a lot of confidence in the investors, which was amply proved by the recent surge in the stock markets. The new deal in West Bengal, they said, had probably shown that it was ‘business as usual’ despite the leadership change. The proposed, additional Bengal campus would give impetus to the State’s image-building exercise and contribute to its growth, they opined.
New Delhi: Union Minister for Communications Manoj Sinha today made the formal announcement of India Mobile Congress 2017, the country’s first and biggest platform to bring together all stakeholders from the domain of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and bring the Indian telecom industry up to the standard of its international counterparts.
The 3-day India Mobile Congress will be held from 27 to 29 September at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Telecommunications service providers (TSPs), telecom equipment manufacturers, handset manufacturers, application providers and government bodies concerned will participate in the event.
While announcing the schedule of the event and releasing its logo, the communications minister said, “The India Mobile Congress will be the biggest event of the telecom industry and it will bring together all stakeholders from the industry and government on a common platform. It will be an exciting opportunity for all involved to explore and achieve new heights in the world of information and communication technology. It is a proud moment for all of us and I am sure no stone will be left unturned to ensure the success of this mega event.”
IMC 2017 will bring together the global mobile industry, showcase exciting new products and innovation, and share the India story, bringing the world to the national capital. The Department of Telecommunications along with Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and other stakeholders are the organisers of the event. Besides stalwarts of the Indian telecom industry, the event will witness participation of various top-notch international players that would explore avenues for investment in the country.
The minister said further that the need for such a mega event was long felt. It will play a big role in taking the Indian telecom industry to the international arena and provide the right platform for development of ideas and new technology.
Speaking on the occasion, Additional Secretary, Telecom, N Sivasailam said, “India Mobile Congress will be the marquee event of India. Over the years, various stakeholders will look forward to this event for launches or new releases of new technologies. (The) Government of India along with Department of Telecommunication are supporting this as an annual event, just like the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. India has a huge market and apart from that, South-East Asia has immense potential.”
Terming it as a “mega event” of the Indian telecom industry, he added, “The annual show will showcase latest innovations in telecom sector not just from India but also from different parts of the world.”
India is on the cusp of a digital revolution and the telecom industry is gradually evolving from a pure voice market to a mix of voice and data services. The proliferation of data will enable the spread of financial services and improves access to education governance and health services. With the Government’s favourable regulation policies and 4G services hitting the market, the Indian telecommunication sector is expected to witness a fast growth in the coming years.
New Delhi: The services sector in India has remained the most vibrant sector in terms of contribution to national and state incomes, trade flows, FDI inflows, and employment. According to the Economic Survey, 2015-16, tabled in Parliament the day before yesterday, the services sector contributed almost 66.1% to the gross value added growth in 2015-16, becoming the most important net foreign exchange earner and the most attractive sector for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflows.
Despite the slowdown in the post crisis period (2010-14), India showed the fastest service sector growth with a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 8.6% followed by China at 8.4%. In 2014 India’s services sector growth at 10.3% was noticeably higher than China at 8.0%. As per the ILO (International Labour Organisation) report on “Global Employment and Social Outlook : Trends 2015” job creation in the coming years will be mainly in the service sector.
In 2014, FDI in India at $34 billion increased by 22% over 2013. There has been a significant growth in FDI inflows in 2014-15 and 2015-16 (April – October) in general and in service sector in particular. In 2014-15, FDI inflows to the service sector grew by a whopping 70.4% to $ 16.4 billion. This rising trend is continuing in the first seven months of 2015-16 with the FDI equity inflows in the services sector growing by 74.7% to $14.8 billion. Significant FDI related liberalization has taken place in a number of sectors to ensure that India remains a increasingly attractive investment destination.
Services exports have been a dynamic element of India’s trade and globalization in recent years. India’s services export grew from $16.8 billion in 2001 to $155.6 billion in 2014, which constitutes 7.5% of the GDP making the country the eighth largest services exporter in the world. The overall openness of the economy reflected by total trade including services as a percentage of GDP shows a higher degree of openness at 50% in 2014-15 compared to 38% in 2004-05.
India’s services import at $81.1 billion grew by 3.3% in 2014-15. The government has taken policy initiatives to promote services exports, which include the Service Export from India Scheme (SEIS) and organizing Global Exhibition on Services (GES).
Tourism is a major engine of economic growth, and a generator of employment of diverse kinds. According to Economic Survey India’s tourism growth which was 10.2% in terms of Foreign Tourist Arrival (FTA) and 9.7% in terms of foreign exchange Earnings(FEE) in 2014 decelerated to 4.5% in terms of FTAs and fell by 2.8% in terms of FEEs in 2015. The lower growth in FTAs and fall in FEEs in 2015 is due to negative or low growth in FTAs from high spending tourists originating from European countries like France, Germany and UK.
However, domestic tourism continues to be an important contributor to the sector providing much needed resilience. In 2014, it grew by 12.9%. The top 5 States in domestic tourist visits in 2014 are Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. In 2014-15, the government launched 2 schemes for thematic development of tourism, these are Swadesh Darshan and National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD). To promote medical tourism, the government has launched India’s healthcare portal and Advantage Health Care India.
Shipping and port services
Around 95% of India’s trade by volume and 68% in terms of value is transported by sea. As per UNCTAD, India with 11.7 million 20-feet equivalent units of container (TEUs) and a world share of 1.7%, ranked ninth in 2014 among developing countries in terms of container operations.
A vision for coastal shipping tourism and regional development has been prepared with a view to increasing the share of the coastal/inland waterways transport mode from 7% to 10% by 2019-20. Cargo traffic in Indian ports increased by 8.2% to 1052.21 million tonnes in 2014-15. In India’s maritime agenda, the target for the year 2020 is 3130 million tonnes of port capacity with an investment of approximately Rs. 2,96,000/- crores.
The IT-BPM sector has demonstrated flexibility and as per the Economic Survey is expected to touch an estimated share of 9.5% of GDP and more than 45% in total services export in 2015-16. E-commerce is expected to grow at 21.4% in 2015-16 to reach $17 billion.
India, home to a new breed of young start-ups, has clearly evolved to become the third largest base of technology start ups in the world. Within a year, the number of start-ups has grown by 40% creating 80,000-85,000 jobs in 2015. This emerging sector is set to get up a fillip with the Start-Up India programme.
Research and development services
As per the CSO’s (Central Statistical Organization) new method there is no separate head for R&D, it is a part of the professional scientific & technical activities including R&D that grew at 3.8% and 25.5 respectively in 2013-14 and 2014-15. According to the survey, India’s R&D globalization and services market is set to almost double by 2020 to $38 billion.
According to the survey, consultancy is emerging as one of the fastest growing service segments in India. The government has taken several initiatives like the Marketing Development Assistance and Market Access Initiative schemes among others for capacity development of domestic consultants.
Real estate and housing
This sector constituted 8.0% of the India’s GVA (Gross Value Added) in 2014-15 and grew by 9.1%. The sector has grown at a CAGR of 8.1% since 2011-12. However, the construction sector has witnessed a slowdown in last few years due to weakening of both domestic and global growth.
The government has announced plans to build six crore houses by the year 2022 under the Housing for All scheme.
According to the survey, Rs 12,31,073 crore trade and repair services sector, with a 10.7% share in GVA, grew by 10.8% in 2014-15. India’s retail market is expected to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2020 making India the world’s fastest growing major developing market. The e-commerce market in India is expected to reach $16 billion by the end of 2015 on the back of growing internet population and increased online shoppers.
Media and entertainment services
According to the Economic Survey, the industry has recorded unprecedented growth over the last two decades making it one of the fastest growing industries in India. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.9% to reach Rs 1,964 billion by 2019. Digital advertising and gaming, which grew by 44.5% and 22.4% respectively in 2014, are projected to drive the growth of this sector in the coming years.
India Posts is the largest postal network in world. Towards financial inclusion, the number of post office savings bank (POSB) accounts has increased from 30.86 crore to 33.97 crore and total deposits in POSB accounts and cash certificate to Rs 6.53 lakhs crore in the last one year.
More than 80 lakh Sukanya Samridhi Yojna accounts have been opened. The IT modernization project of the Department of Posts, with a total outlay of Rs 4,909 crore, involves computerization and networking of all the post offices.
New Delhi: The stage has been set for rapidly increasing digital literacy in the country. In 3 years, the Union government aims to take digital literacy to atleast 50% from the current level of 15%. Minister for Telecom and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said this here today while presiding over the function to award winners of “Digital India Week’s Online Quiz Competition on Cyber Safety and Cyber Awareness”.
The minister said 100% digital literacy was needed to make India a truly digitized society. Prasad said that the world was keenly watching developments in India and it was the responsibility of the youth to come up to the expectations.
Prasad said more than 4,000 innovators had come to India to explore possibilities in the fields of information technology and electronic manufacturing. He said that a knowledge economy will prove to be the driver of change and initiatives of the government in this direction would place in a certain advantageous position.
As part of this initiative, the government in collaboration with Intel had organised an online quiz competition on cyber safety and cyber awareness during the Digital India Week from 1 July to 7 July 2015. Around 10 lakh students participated in the competition from all 36 States and Union Territories. The competition was conducted for school children of Classes VI to VIII and for Classes IX to XII. The whole contest was online and the automated system recognized the correct answers and selected the winners. Around 32,000 students, who completed Level II of the competition, received their merit certificates online. Four top performances from each State and Union Territory were chosen winners.
Prior to the award function in the morning, a workshop on “Cyber Safety and Cyber Awareness” for school children was conducted, wherein students were sensitized on cyber safety. Moreover, various topics including cyber bullying, social media misuse, identity theft, hacking, mobile crimes, e-frauds, etc. were discussed. At the end of the workshop, participating students developed certain action points for promoting cyber safety and awareness in schools.
This award function is expected to further promote awareness about cyber safety, contributing to the overall vision of “Digital India” that is ensuring a safe and secure digital world, especially for school children.