Indian IT professionals suffer global backlash

Posted on April 1, 2003 
Filed Under Anita, New Zealand Herald

12:00AM Tuesday April 01, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

Indian IT professionals have been at the short end of the stick in recent weeks.

On March 9, the Malaysian police, apparently on a routine migrant raid, rounded up 191 IT professionals at a posh condominium in Kuala Lumpur.

The expatriates were allegedly handcuffed and detained, though they had legal work permits, for at least eight hours.

Most of the IT professionals held had been recruited from India to work at Malaysia’s high-tech hub, the Multimedia Super Corridor.

The rough treatment has prompted an exodus: “Some 40 of those who were raided have already left the country. A hundred more booked tickets to leave,” said software engineer Srinivasan Shanthi Muthu.

The incident soured ties with India. And it comes in the wake of a swelling global backlash against Indian IT professionals who have, over the last decade, gained a reputation as highly skilled and a cheaper labour force.

British Telecom staff recently protested against the company’s decision to move its call centre operations to India.

Before that, the German Government said it would stop issuing green cards to IT professionals from July 31, a decision widely believed to be targeted at the influx of Indians.

The United States is planning to cap the number of H1B fixed-term work visas issued to IT professionals from India.

The backlash could affect the Indians’ destination of choice.

Every year India produces more than 75,000 computer graduates, who are in demand the world over. Could New Zealand be on the radar?

“Out of every 100 CVs we receive online, 15 to 20 are from Indian IT professionals,” said Rahul Suchdev, business development executive at Icon Recruitment.

CPU Recruitment managing director Craig Parsons said most of the candidates from India put New Zealand at the top of their list for countries to live and work in, because of the lifestyle, location and the growing reputation for excellence in the development and deployment of software solutions.

Parsons said New Zealand employers were looking outside the square to recruit, due to the skills shortage.

“We have noticed a greater willingness by Kiwi companies to look at people from India provided commercial experience stacks up and their customer-facing skills are well-honed.”

IT Futures Consulting Group managing director David Newick said the downturn in the global IT economy was a driver for migration. But he said many Indian IT professionals already in New Zealand were struggling to find work.

Published in the New Zealand Herald, April 01, 2003

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