Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama means no worries for IT: FM

If Indian IT Inc turned anxious overnight about Barack Obama's election to the US President's office, it was not showing it beyond extending nervous congratulating messages to him.

It was then left to none other than the Indian finance minister P Chidambaram to allay the fears of the IT community through an indirect public message. At a function in Delhi, when the FM was quizzed about the anxiety among IT companies over Obama's ascendency, Chidambaram said the Indian IT and BPO industry should not be unduly worried over Obama's policies.

Chidambaram, who stressed he was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the Indian government, also felt that once Obama is in office, "he will realise that this is an inter-connected world and countries have to work together."

"A comment here or a comment there on outsourcing should not bother us," he said when asked to comment on the pre-poll promises made by Obama during his campaign when he promised to look into the issue of Americans purportedly losing jobs thanks to outsourcing to countries like India.

Earlier in the day, apex Indian IT and services organization Nasscom, sent a warm welcome message to Obama, even ahead of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, over his win even as its constituent companies spent a nervous day sharing their anxiety and uncertainty over Obama's forthcoming policies regarding outsourcing.

"We look forward to continued close cooperation with the US Government and the US business community and ... working with the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress to be part of the economic solution that will return stability to the world economy, in the earliest possible timeframe," it said.

The association also said it is reassured by Obama's plan to expand the H1B visa programme for highly skilled professionals, "Specifically, we support expanding the H1B visa programme so that highly skilled workers can help companies lead the way on innovation and contribute additional jobs and economic growth in the United States.”

Indian IT professionals depend heavily on this US work permit to work onsite. The US government had capped the visa at 65,000 after increasing it to 1,95,000 during the peak of the tech boom.

"In a situation where the global economy is under stress, it is more important than ever that India and the US find ways to partner to spur innovation, foster economic growth, develop an educated and skilled workforce and create jobs for the modern global marketplace," it added in a later statement.

Nasscom member and leading software company Cognizant Technology, which has significant operations in the US, too issued a statement. "We look forward to their efforts in addressing the current challenges of the economy and continuing to build bridges between America and the rest of the world," said R Chandrasekaran, president and managing director, Cognizant.

India's software and services exports grew 29 per cent in 2007-08 to register a revenue of 40.4 billion dollars, up from 31.4 billion dollars in the previous year. The overall IT-BPO industry, including the domestic market, recorded 28 per cent growth to touch 52-billion dollar revenue in 2007-08.
-Indiatimes - Infotech

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