Republican’s majority in US Congress ‘good’ for Indian biz

Source: 6 Nov, 2010, Economic Times Bureau

With the Republican Party regaining a majority in the US Congress in the just-concluded mid-term elections, many influential Indian-Americans now see an advantage for big business, which extends to Indian companies as well.

“The Democrats (led by Obama) have lost a large number of seats in the Congress and some of these were strong voices against outsourcing,” says Sanjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee. “The message on open markets seems to be very strong and will benefit Indian companies as well as US companies which have large Indian operations,” he says.

Mr Puri has been lobbying at Capitol Hill on issues related to India and Indian-Americans. The Republicans have historically supported open markets and, hence, there will be less rhetoric on issues such as outsourcing.

The Indian-American community, which had strongly pitched for the US-India nuclear deal, also hopes that with the Republicans back in the Congress, the deal should now move back on the fast-track.

Prominent Congressman Ed Royce from the Los Angeles area, who is now pitching for the important post of chairman of the House financial services committee, is also Republican co-chair of the Congressional caucus on India and Indian-Americans. That is being seen as an advantage.

The general perception among Indian-Americans is that Republicans are more pragmatic and business-friendly and, hence, they value the contributions made by Indian-Americans in technology and innovation more. In the hi-tech Silicon Valley, too, Indian entrepreneurs now feel more comfortable with a Republican House of representatives back at Capitol Hill.

“The feeling here is that a Republican Congress will be more business-friendly. That will help in driving more investments in the technology sector,” says Deven Verma, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist who has been a political fund-raiser for over two decades.

“The comfort factor with the political environment is essential for more cash to flow into the system from Valley-based entrepreneurs,” he adds. Many Indians in the Silicon Valley are among the top-bracket professionals and entrepreneurs.

Rochester Institute of Technology professor Ron Hira, an expert on public policy and outsourcing issues, also sees some advantages for Indian business interests because the Republican Party, or the Grand Old Party, tends to be closer to big business whereas Democrats are closer to labour interests.

“Big business has argued that offshore outsourcing is good for the American economy. Corporate America has also defended the tax breaks that encourage offshoring,” Mr Hira says. “Labour has argued that offshore outsourcing is bad for American workers and for the American economy. The Democrats have pandered to those concerns for political reasons but not taken any action on offshoring. The H-1B and L-1 fee increases were so marginal as to not have any practical impact on the business model.”

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