Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hail H-visas

This appeared on GQIndia.com yesterday.

It's time for fashion week committees to overlook the conventional seasons and take note of the political season because it's the hottest of them all. In various parts of the world, decade old rulers are been overthrown as new stylish blood makes its way in. Here in the US, the presidential race picks up more steam every day. The reasons include everything from outrageous claims to outrageous proposals and everything in between by race runners.

Here’s one intriguing story. A Republican candidate recently suggested, hold your breath, that the U.S. negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with India. The politico in the spotlight is Jon Huntsman. If you must ask, he's a center-right conservative or what I call fully flexible. Of course that's only the case before adequate caffeine has kicked into my system.

The million dollar question is, does the state he once governed (Utah) sound more inconsequential to you than the politician himself? If you have trouble remembering his American name, get this. He has a Chinese name too. Hong Bopei. I want two names!

While you mull over that, here's the scoop. The latest trend, just like no-show socks for men, is presidential candidates submitting job proposals to create more employment opportunities in the nation. Mitt Romney (the robotic presidential candidate) submitted one. John Boehner (house speaker) did. So did Jon Huntsman and surprise surprise, India was tossed around like olive oil in a mixed green salad. He made a great point that since 95 percent of the world's customers live outside U.S. borders, opening more markets for American businesses spark immediate growth. He also suggested that Washington must immediately start discussions with India to end in a bilateral free trade agreement strengthening US and India’s relationship. Of course I agree, given the limited foreign policy knowledge I possess. Which reminds me, it's time I quit the 'I have more foreign policy knowledge than Sarah Palin' group on Facebook. It was an impulse; it's done her no harm and done me no good.

Jon also said that in New Delhi amongst other cities, US competitors are making the hard choices that will help assure their children have better lives. I'm willing to bet my new SLR that he hasn't had time to catch up on what hard choices New Delhi has been making recently from Kiran Bedi’s ghoonghat act to Rahul’s MIA act to Sushma Swaraj’s dance act to the PM’s silence act. Someone give him access to Indian mainstream media, please.

But let’s get to the meat. Imagine a bilateral trade agreement between India and US. Taxes, tariffs and quotas - all lifted, reduced or restricted. Imagine. No H1. No H visa! H-visas are the iPods of visas. Entire ancillary industries have been created, from lawyers and body-shoppers to fortune tellers who thrive on this visa. One day, all gone. I shudder to think of what will the immigration population obsess with. It's the single most common factor that binds millions of Indians in the US.

But let me not get ahead of myself here and get all carried away with proposals by the Manchurian Candidate, as the media refers to him. Chances are, most Americans haven't heard of him and never may. Hail H-visas!

Here is the link to the article on GQIndia.com

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