Archive for the ‘ International Affairs ’ Category

Chop Shop @ Infosys

Our politicians fight over every trivial issue, but we saw an unusual ideological unity across the political spectrum when it came to the ‘chop shop’ remark by US Senator Charles E Schumer.

During the discussion in US Senate of Border Security Bill, which aims to provide a $600 million emergency package for strengthening the porous US-Mexico border Republican Senator Schumer had described Indian IT Major Infosys and its peers as a ‘chop shop’ – the American slang for places where stolen cars are dismantled for their parts.

The industry bodies and politicians are outraged by the Senator’s snide remark. Congress’s Manish Tiwari says “The use of the phraseology for one of India’s premier IT company, and possibly one of the best in the world, is regrettable. To compare the company to a chop shop reflects complete non understanding of the contribution that Infosys has made to the global economy”.

BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad said “It is a flight of arrogance which also concedes that inability to compete fairly. It is because Americans have realised that other parts of the world, notably India, have the capability in entrepreneurship and quality services which are globally competitive as embodied by Infosys.”

While politicians across all hues come on prime time television to ‘sensationalise the insult’ and declare a ‘war with adjectives’, Indians in the US and more knowledgeable people in India, have been more dismissive. They and other US citizens used to another Republican President George Bush gaffes know Senator Schumer famously called ‘Chuck’ Schumer was indeed ‘chucking the whole word’ by mistake.

It is commonsensical that the Senator meant ‘body shop’ and not ‘chop shop’. My take on the whole discussion is that it is a rhetorical positioning by a man who faces re-election at a time of stubbornly high US unemployment (now standing at 9%). But even the use of word ‘body shop’ is not a very positive statement about outsourcers, like India, but certainly is not same as ‘chop shop’, which has more to do with stolen cars.  The Senator, however, might not apologise or clear up the confusion, because this posturing would work to his advantage in the impending elections.

But what Indian industry and politicians should be more worried is that the Border Security Bill, when approved by the Senate, would see significant hike in application fees for H1B and L1 visas, which are most sought after by Indian IT professionals. The Bill would hike the visa fees to $2000 per application on those entities that have less than 50% of their employees as US citizens. And the Bill is expected to increase the annual visa cost for India’s $50 billion outsourcing industry by $200-250 million annually. For example if the next year Infosys applies for 3000-4000 visas the impact could be $4-6 million (14 to 17% of Infosys revenue).

We might still have a cost arbitrage, but slowly it is decreasing. What are we doing about the shrinking cost arbitrage for outsourcing? Slowly the most ‘capitalist’ nations on earth is switching gear and behaving like the most ‘socialist’ to protect their economy. What are we doing about protecting our economy and protecting our jobs?

Photo : Courtesy Senator Charles Schumer’s official website.

The Oil Spill

The Best Video on the Oil Spill

And the Best Joke

British Petroleum officials are now saying that the campaign to clean it up could last till fall.

You know why it’s called a campaign?

Because it’s like an election: it’s dirty, it’s slimy, it never seems to end. ~ Jay Leno

While I empathise with the whole situation in the Gulf of Mexico, am kind of tired of American hypocrisy and double standards.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has sparked off a lengthy post-mortem and debates. Emotions are running high and the line between fact and fiction is being blurred. Who really is to blame for the oil spill and what is the road ahead for British Petroleum.

If you folks have been following the big BP oil spill, then you would realize that this has the potential to become the biggest environmental disasters of all times. According to experts the spill is at the rate of 20,000 barrels a day. That means that the spill rate is 20 times the 1,000-barrels-a-day rate the oil giant, BP had been insisting on. Makes me wonder, if BP is interested only in a cover-up and/or the company have enough resources and technological knowhow, to fix the spill and stop the oil gushing from its exploded well. But hold your breath, there sure is hope, on Monday May 3rd 2010, BP promised to pay all necessary cleanup costs for the oil spill. What was implied was that they will do it, no matter how much they have to raise gas (aka petrol) prices. 

According to Associate Press investigation there is a cosy relationship between, the oil companies and the regulators. Minerals Management Service or MMS, the federal agency responsible for ensuring that the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely, had at least 16 fewer inspections, since 2005. The MMS was to conduct inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon at least once per month but fell well short of its own policy.

One thing is sure, with this spill, BP has put more birds in oil than KFC’s Colonel Sanders and if it gets worse, British Petroleum may soon start drilling for more precious ‘water’. And then perhaps change the company name to British Water. Oops already taken but we sure can come up with something 😉

Photo : Copyright with Huffington Post