WASHINGTON DC (United States): The President of the United States (POTUS) Donald Trump today signed an order suspending work visas, including the H1B category coveted by white-collar Indians, till the yearend and extending restrictions on green card holders for another two months.
The goal of the move, as per the Trump administration, is to protect 525,000 jobs as part of the White House response to job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump said besides extending restrictions on green cards by another 60 days, he also suspended most categories of H2B, H1B, H4, J and L visa programmes till December-end as they presented a “significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions”.
The administration defended its moves as an effort to help US workers facing the biggest unemployment crisis since the 1930s. But the moves also use executive powers to impose the kind of immigration restrictions that Trump adviser Stephen Miller and other hard-liners have been promoting for years.
Both curbs, designed to combat “the most extreme unemployment ever”, have come under fire from several Fortune 500 companies who have contended foreign workers were hired not because they had to be paid lower wages but due to a shortage of certain skill sets in the US.
There will be no immediate impact because international air travel is still restricted.
Of the 13 lakh visa workers in the US, over 8 lakh direct beneficiaries are estimated to be Indians. Their kin and spouses also tend to take up jobs with or without the requisite visas.
The news in ordinary circumstances bound to shock the Indian IT services sector. Last year, Indians made up a whopping 71.7% of all immigrants who’d applied for fresh H-1B visas or renewals, according to a report by credit ratings agency ICRA.
However, Indian IT services firms like Infosys, Wipro, and TCS have kept a close watch on the US government’s hardening stance against immigration. And acted accordingly.
Therefore, investors in IT stocks took the news of US visa restrictions in their stride. The Nifty IT index rose 1.5% on Tuesday, in line with the rise in the broader market.
The reason for the above behaviour is, to begin with, the restrictions, applicable only until the end of the year, were not entirely unexpected. Considering rising unemployment in the US and the political rhetoric ahead of the presidential elections, analysts were expecting some curbs.
Besides, it does not impact existing H-1B visa holders, so underlying capacity is likely intact.
Moreover, because of the tepid business environment, the need for increasing on-site resources is limited.
Businesses including major tech companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the visa suspension would stifle the economic recovery after the damage done by the pandemic.
BSA, The Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft and Slack, urged the administration in a statement to “refrain from restricting employment of highly-skilled foreign professionals,” adding that “these restrictions will negatively impact the U.S. economy” and decrease job opportunities for Americans.
H-2B visas, which were included in the suspension, have been used by Trump-owned- or Trump-branded businesses, including his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. To know more, read Trump blocks H1B visa; businesses say the decision will hurt US recovery.
BANNED: 59 Chinese Mobile Apps That Threaten India’s Sovereignty And Integrity
There have been acute concerns relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of Indians.
NEW DELHI: The government of India on Monday announced the ban of 59 Chinese apps in the country. A day later one of the most popular short video applications TikTok has been taken down from Apple App Store and also Google Play Store. The government has called the decision “a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace & to safeguard interests of crores of Indian mobile/internet users“.
Electronics and IT Ministry said in a release that these apps were banned in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of the country, defence of the country and security of a state and public order.
For safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India the Government has banned 59 mobile apps.
Jai Hind! 🇮🇳
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 29, 2020
Geopolitics and international relations (IR) experts believe that the move is an exercise of coercive diplomacy that has, as the starting point, opted for a low-denomination item — mobile app — that has a limited impact on Indian businesses but one that has a disproportionately large presence in the mass consumer segment.
Two months ago, in April, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, made it mandatory for foreign direct investment from neighbouring countries to take prior government approval.
This was also aimed at curbing opportunistic takeovers/ acquisitions of Indian companies during times of the Covid-19 pandemic, when valuations were at new lows.
Over the last few years, India has emerged as a leading innovator when it comes to technological advancements and a primary market in the digital space.
At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of the country.
The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps.
This Ministry has also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to the operation of certain apps.
The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding the security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues.
Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India.
There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against Apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.
On the basis of these and upon receiving recent credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the government has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet-enabled devices.
TikTok had nearly 119 million active users in India and was among the top 10 apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Users who still have the TikTok app on their mobile phone can still be able to use it, however, the app can’t be downloaded anymore. Most other Chinese apps banned in India are still available for download.
It must be noted that if you have the app installed on your phone you will still be able to see it on Google Play store. Once you uninstall it the TikTok app will not be visible.
For users who have the TikTok app download can still use the app and post videos but officially the platform is now banned in the country.
Uttar Pradesh Will Generate 1.25 Cr Jobs: PM Modi
PM Modi praised the UP govt for their unprecedented work in ensuring that the poor don’t go hungry.
NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh will generate 1.25 cr employment opportunities, primarily in rural areas and across small-scale industries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Since the lockdown was announced on 25 March, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from UP have returned to the state after losing their livelihood.
At the virtual launch of the ‘Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyaan’, along with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Modi said the scheme was a “qualitative and quantitative expansion” of Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan (GKRA), a new central job scheme. He said investors from India and abroad were looking to set up businesses in Uttar Pradesh.
“Uttar Pradesh has increased the scope of Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan. While the scheme started by the Centre had 25 programmes under it, the Uttar Pradesh government has not only added more schemes, but has made a quantitative and qualitative improvement [on the GKRA]. Uttar Pradesh government is expected to employ 1.25 crore people under these schemes, of which 60 lakh will get employment in rural areas, and 40 lakh under micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Modi said.
The ‘Abhiyan is intensely focused towards providing employment, promote local entrepreneurship and create partnership with industrial associations and other organisations to provide employment opportunities’.
Around 50 per cent number of the jobs will be provided under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The Uttar Pradesh CM had asked the state authorities to map the skill of the workers returning from different states so that they can be provided employment as per their expertise.
The state has around 1.80 crore MGNREGS job cardholders, out of which, 85 lakh have been active.
Commenting on the state government’s initiative, Chief Secretary RK Tiwari said, “We are roping in all major departments to provide work in addition to jobs being provided under the MGNREGS. The micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) department, public works department, horticulture department and the agencies constructing the expressways will also contribute in a big way in the creation of more jobs.”
The Centre had announced the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package to stimulate various sectors. In order to generate employment with a thrust towards creating infrastructure in backward regions of the country, Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was launched on June 20, 2020.
The PM lauded the courage and wisdom shown by Uttar Pradesh when Corona is in such a major crisis in the world. He said that the way the state succeeded and the way it handled the situation is unprecedented and is praiseworthy.
PM Modi praised the contribution of doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff, police, ASHAs, Anganwadi workers, banks and post offices, transport services and workers in UP.
PM Modi lauded the Government of UP making efforts to bring back the migrant labour belonging to the state, by facilitating hundreds of Shramik Express Trains.
Indian Railways Cancels All Regular Trains Till August 12
Indian Railways cancels regular passenger trains till this date; IRCTC special trains to run.
NEW DELHI: Railways has decided to cancel all the regular timetabled passenger services including Mail/Express, passenger and suburban Service up to 12th August this year.
However, all special trains — 12 pairs running on the Rajdhani routes since May 12 and 100 pairs operating since June 1 — will continue, they said. While 30 Rajdhani-like AC trains were started initially, the IRCTC began 200 more trains since 1 June.
The limited special suburban services which began recently in Mumbai to ferry essential services personnel identified by the local authorities will also continue to run, officials said.
All the tickets booked for regular time table trains, for the journey date from July 1 to 12th August will be cancelled and a full refund will be given to the passengers.
In case of train cancellations, Indian Railways refunds the full amount to passengers, however, the advise is that passengers should refrain from going to the IRCTC website to cancel their booking. The refund will be automatically credited to the user’s account once the train is cancelled in our system, IRCTC has said for online train ticket bookings.
Earlier, the Railways had cancelled all trains till June 30.
Since 25 March 2020, when the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic began, all regular train services of the national transporter have been cancelled by Indian Railways. However, to ferry those who are stranded and those who have to undertake urgent train journeys, the Indian Railways started IRCTC special trains services from 12 May 2020 onwards.
Initially, the IRCTC special train services consisted of 30 Rajdhani-style AC trains, including the to-and-fro journeys, but from 1 June 2020, additional 200 IRCTC special trains were introduced including non-AC sleeper train services.
To travel on these IRCTC special trains, tickets can be booked on the IRCTC website (irctc.co.in) or IRCTC mobile application, at reservation counters, post offices, through agents, etc.
All the passenger trains that are currently being operated by Indian Railways are fully reserved services with limited waitlisted tickets.
To prevent novel coronavirus infection, all those who are commencing train journeys on these special trains must follow certain guidelines like downloading Aarogya Setu application, social distancing, wearing of masks, thermal screening at stations, etc.
A railway spokesperson said during the lockdown period booking of tickets was allowed till April 14 with an advance reservation period of 120 days.
“Some of the passengers had booked tickets for regular trains being run before lockdown for the journey up to 12 August (120 days from 14 April). In order to facilitate full refunds to those passengers who had booked tickets on or prior to April 14, 2020, these bookings have been cancelled,” he said.
The spokesperson said the Railways is monitoring occupancy position of these special trains on a regular basis and whenever a decision is taken to introduce new special trains, its schedule will be notified.
Regular train services have been disrupted days ahead of the nationwide lockdown which began from March 25. The Railways has also run more than 4,000 Shramik Special trains since May 1 to ferry migrant workers back to their home states.
Other than these services, the entire passenger services had been non-operational. However, it continued to run its freight and parcel services.
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