US Congressman Joseph Crowley, co-chair of the Congressional caucus on India, on Tuesday called for urgently educating the American business community about the opportunities available in India and for Indian companies to invest more in America to create more job opportunities there.
The two steps would help fight the present backlash against shifting of thousands of jobs from the US to India, Crowley said in New Delhi.
He, however, admitted that the US was unable to rein in American states in moving ahead with anti-outsourcing bills.
"Many state governments in the US have brought anti-BPO laws prohibiting contracts that go out of the country. The federal government can't control state governments in this," Crowley said.
"Indian companies must create jobs in the US for Americans through investment there leading to more employment opportunities and dispelling the negative notion of job loss associated with outsourcing, of which India has now become an integral part," he said.
Crowley is leading the largest-ever US Congressional delegation to India. The delegation -- besides interacting with representatives of the government including ministers, representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry and the National Association of Software and Service Companies -- is also participating in the CII partnership summit in Hyderabad.
He said the backlash against outsourcing is an issue that can rally political support within the US.
"Relations between India and United States are taking the shape of a strategic partnership. The fact is that it is happening," Crowley said, pointing towards the various areas of cooperation between the two countries in recent times.
Need to expand trade ties
He said the expansion in bilateral trade provides not only an opportunity for India, but also opportunities for Americans to find more jobs.
The present debate in the US over shifting of backend operations to India thus throws up the challenge of educating Americans about the opportunities presented by India, he said.
The debate within the US about the shifting of thousands of backend operations to India gives some 'good opportunities' to some American politicians on focus on upcoming elections, while for others it provides a way to 'shift focus out of' some of the economic policies of the past, he said.
Crowley said the real challenge in facing bilateral trade relations was to "find a way not only to create jobs, but also to educate American business people what opportunities exist here."
Republican Senator John Cornyn, who is on his first visit to India, said the main challenges before the US and India were "free trade, intellectual property protection and commonsensical emigration laws."
Cornyn said the visiting US delegation was focussing on economy, jobs, et cetera. He said the delegation members were all sensitive to the jobs of their constituencies: "The dislocation and hardships that occur due to globalisation." But said the shifting of jobs from the US to India was part of globalisation.
"We need to come to grips with instability caused by commerce looking for greater efficiency and deal with election year rhetoric," Cornyn said. "It is important not just to look at short-term gains, but also look at long-term benefits," he said. "We need to prepare for dislocation and we cannot run from the inevitable," Cornyn said.
He highlighted the need for improving intellectual property rights protection and make Doha round of talks (at the World Trade Organisation) a success.
Concern over visa misuse
Emigration laws need to 'reflect a global economy' and with great effort "we need to distinguish between those wanting to come in to kills us and those who want to come in and work in the US," he said.
There are concerns about the "abuses of H1B and L1 visas," Cornyn said. He said he has already suggested a 'guest worker program' for allowing greater flexibility in the case of foreign workers in the US.
Congressman Steny Hamilton Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, said India faces "deep challenges and extraordinary opportunities." And America was ready to partner with India in facing those challenges, including improving food security, fight environmental degradation and spread of HIV and AIDS.
The first four decades of Indo-US relations were 'shaky' and mostly suspicious. He said the visit of this delegation and other facts indicate that bilateral relations especially the economic relations are on a 'solid track.'
Hoyer said, "The US must be committed to strengthening not only military-diplomatic relations (with India) but also to fostering greater economic relations."