Obama is here. Should you care?

A whopping 900 crores ($200 million) is what the United States of America will be spending per day during President Barack Obama’s visit to India. Read this again – 900 crores. On what, you may ask? Security. Stay. And other aspects of his visit, says a top official connected with the Maharashtra Government.

Hmm. Coming from a Government that is paranoid about outsourcing to India, or concerned about saving the American economy from job loss, this is a strange way of showing “I care!” Stranger is the red carpet the Indian government is rolling out, keeping in mind the well known Indian dictum – “Our Guest is God.”

Is it because we think Obama will give us a permanent seat on the UN Council? Or is it because we need his support on our war on terror? Or do we really think that removing coconuts from trees since they pose security hazards will change his mind about outsourcing to the largest democracy in the world?

Obama, reeling from a major loss in the mid-term elections back home, is probably not in the mood to hand out free gifts, but it will not surprise many, especially the pro-outsourcing faction back in the US, if he starts back pedaling on his rigid stand on outsourcing. Whether Obama truly believes that outsourcing will harm his economy is not the issue here. The bigger issue is whether he can afford to be blind to the fact that India’s growth is just .5% behind China’s 9.1%, and is forecasted to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing economy by 2015.

While clamping down on outsourcing, President Obama has missed the larger story on the benefits to the US economy from increased investment and trade ties between the two countries.” – Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for South Asia at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.

True, this visit will not remove the ban Ohio imposed on outsourcing of work to overseas destinations by government departments. It will not revoke the increase on visa fees to fund a Mexico Border Security plan. Nor will it re-issue tax breaks for firms that send jobs overseas. So what does this visit really mean for the Indian IT world?

Not much, according to Praveen Bhadad, Manager, Zinnov Management Consulting. “I don’t see much of an impact one way or the other. At the end of the day, it is about jobs and the unemployment rate in the US.”

Mr. President, an entire nation is working hard for your visit to succeed. Praying that you have a safe trip. And hoping that you will come back again. Give the $50 Billion Indian IT outsourcing industry reasons to invite you back. Give us reasons to care.

We’re listening.

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Author : Revathi Krishna Date : 04 Nov 2010