The United States is great for its willingness to accept talented immigrants.
That’s what Nandan Nilekani, the billionaire co-founder of Infosys Technologies, would say to President Trump if he had the chance.
“If you really want to keep the United States … competitive globally, you should be open to foreign talent,” said Nilekani on the sidelines of CNN’s Asia Business Forum in Bangalore.
Infosys ( It is the second largest outsourcing firm in India and a major recipient of US H-1B visas. USA The documents allow the technology company to employ large numbers of Indians in jobs in the United States. )
The Trump administration is now considering significant changes to the visa program. Press secretary Sean Spicer said in January that Trump will continue to talk about reforming the H-1B program, among others, as part of a greater push for immigration reform.
Visa restrictions could further affect Indian workers.
India is the main source of highly skilled labor for the American technology industry. According to data from the US government. In the USA, 70% of the hugely popular H-1B visas go to Indians.
Shares of several Indian tech companies, including Infosys, plummeted two weeks ago amid reports of an impending crackdown on work visas.
Nilekani said it would be a mistake for the administration to go ahead.
“Indian companies have done a lot to help American companies become more competitive, and I think that should continue,” said Nilekani. “If you look at Silicon Valley … most companies have an immigrant founder.”
India’s contribution to the industry, especially at the higher levels, has been enormous. The current CEOs of Google ( and )Microsoft (For example, they were both born in India. )
But Nilekani, who is also the architect of India’s ambitious biometric identification program, suggested that India would ultimately benefit from any new restrictions put in place under Trump’s “America First” plan. If talented engineers cannot go to the United States, they will stay in India.
“This visa problem has always come up in the United States every few years, especially during election season,” he said. “It has actually accelerated development work [in India]because … people are investing more to do the work here. ”
Nilekani cited his own projects for the Indian government as an example.
The Bangalore-born businessman left Infosys in 2009 to run India’s massive social security program, known as Aadhaar. As a result of the initiative, the vast majority of India’s 1.3 billion citizens now have a biometric identification number that enables them to receive government services, execute bank transactions, and even conduct biometric payments.
“It was built by extremely talented and committed Indians,” said Nilekani. “Many of them had global experience, but they brought that talent and experience to solve India’s problems.”
Nilekani said the country’s massive youth population is increasingly choosing to stay home and participate.
“First is India,” he said.
CNNMoney (Bangalore, India) First published on February 13, 2017: 2:19 p.m. ET