THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 08 October 2020 The cost of political posturing (The Hindu)

The cost of political posturing (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: International Relations 
Prelims level: Political posturing
Mains level: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora


  • U.S. President has turned the screws tight of his country’s immigration system by announcing a hike in the salaries for those arriving in the U.S. on H-1B or skilled-worker visas.
  • This is expected to cut visa applications by around 33%, according to experts.
  • And it comes as only the latest White House rule following executive actions that earlier banned the issuance of new skilled worker visas and new green cards.
  • The question that these policy changes beg is, how much of the motivation for them is pure economic rationale versus political value for the incumbent’s final stages of election campaigning?

Slashing the import of services:

  • It would not be unreasonable to expect that the visa issuance ban, combined with the mandatory salary floor soon to be instituted, will seriously hit U.S. imports of services from India.
  • Value of imports is estimated to be at $29.6 billion in 2018, 4.9% more than in 2017, and 134% more than 2008 levels.
  • The skilled visa issuance picture has been a positive one to date.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been issuing 85,000 H-1B visas annually, of which 20,000 are given to graduate students and 65,000 to private sector applicants.
  • Approximately 70% of which are granted to Indian nationals.
  • The Migration Policy Institute has predicted that Mr. Trump’s June 22, 2020 ban on new H-1B visa issuance could impact up to 219,000 workers.
  • These workers would effectively be blocked from taking up any potential jobs on offer in the U.S. going forward.
  • But how likely are firms, including the Silicon Valley tech giants, to embark on recruitment drives at this economically depressed time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Unemployment in the U.S. peaked in the summer and has fallen for the fifth consecutive month since then.
  • The latest figures suggest that both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed people remain substantially higher than the pre-pandemic values in February 2020.
  • Even so, it is important to distinguish between the ban on new visa issuance and the Labour Department rule that would insist on higher salaries being paid to all H-1B visa workers in the U.S.
  • Under the latter rule, assuming it stands the test of time and inevitable litigation, companies would be required to pay entry-level staff in the 45th percentile of their industry’s salary instead of the 17th percentile.
  • For high-skilled workers, the rise would be from the 67th to the 95th percentile.

Staunch Criticism:

  • Speaking of litigation, a federal judge in the Northern District of California blocked the enforcement of the new visa ban, ruling that the President “exceeded his authority” under the U.S. Constitution.
  • Driving that legal challenge to the White House proclamation was a swathe of U.S. manufacturing and industry associations.
  • In a similar vein, Google CEO Sundar Pichai hit out at the ban, saying, “Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today.
  • Disappointed by today’s proclamation — we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.”
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook echoed similar sentiments.


Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), consider the following statements:

1. It is largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide.
2. At present A-WEB has 115 EMBs as Members & 16 Regional Associations/Organisations as Associate Members.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Describe the implications on India of the recently salary hike in the U.S. on H-1B or skilled-worker visas