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Advani flays US attitude on outsourcing

Our Political Bureau  |  New Delhi 

On the heels of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's public remonstration with the US on its tendency to turn protectionist on the issue of outsourcing, and the state department's stated position that outsourcing would continue to be an issue until India relaxed its investments caps, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani today attacked the US for its "double standard" in prodding other countries to open their markets to its goods and services on the one hand and protecting its own markets and jobs on the other.
"On the one hand, the US talks of globalisation and liberalisation while on the other it was proposing a ban on outsourcing jobs to India, saying it is taking away the jobs from computer professionals there," Advani said here on the penultimate day of his visit to areas under his Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency.
He said the multinational companies were not "obliging" India by operating in the country; they were doing business in India because the country gave them highly skilled workforce and good returns on their investments.
Advani sought to turn the American backlash against outsourcing into a political issue, just as it has become a political issue in the Presidential election in the US.
The man who might get the Democrat nomination for President, Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts), had introduced legislation requiring call center employees to disclose their location at the commencement of each call.
When introducing the legislation, Kerry cited a Gartner Inc estimate that one in 20 infotech jobs at user companies would move offshore by the end of next year.
There were, at last count, nine Bills pending in the US Congress aimed at barring foreign workers from government contracts.
According to a study of pending Bills assembled by Stuart Anderson, executive director of the recently formed National Foundation for American Policy, a former Senate staffer on the immigration sub-committee called the growing number of Bills related to offshore outsourcing "creeping protectionism".
Advani said even foreigners were being attracted by the state-of-the-art and economical healthcare facilities in India. He also said e-governance would be an important tool for India to emerge as a developed nation by 2020. He called for the need to bridge the "digital divide".
Advani observed that south India had been taking great strides in information technology and the north had a long way to catch up with the south.
On Gujarat, he said though the state was one of the front-runners in development, there was more to be done, such as spreading literacy.
Dwelling on the poor representation of people from Gujarat in the defence forces, Advani said a proposal of a "Gujarat regiment" mooted by Chief Minister Narendra Modi was under consideration of the central government.

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First Published: Tue, February 10 2004. 00:00 IST