09:44 GMT13 August 2020
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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to raise the issue of H-1B visas with US President Donald Trump this month amid strain in bilateral ties. Experts on India-US relations still bet on both sides overcoming hurdles and benefit from a much broad-based partnership.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said PM Modi is expected to raise concerns over US plans to reduce the number of H-1B visas used mainly by Indian information technology (IT) workers.

    Top seven India-based IT companies in the US collectively experienced a 37 percent drop in approved H-1B visa petitions in 2016 as compared to the previous year, PTI quoted a report by the Washington-based think-tank National Foundation for American Policy.

    “I would like to assure the country that we are in touch with the members of the US Congress and the administration on this matter. When the prime minister travels there (later this month), this is one of the issues that he is planning to raise,” Swaraj said during a press conference to mark the completion of three years by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government.

    Experts said the H-1B visa issue has figured as an irritant in India-US ties from time-to-time, but has been taken care of by New Delhi’s lobbying efforts.

    “The H-1B visa is definitely going to be one of the important issues during PM Modi's visit to the US. In the past, during the Bush administration also, the issue of outsourcing came up. But Indian lobbying was able to address some of the major concerns. India will need to resort to lobbying and this time the lobbying must highlight the positive points of H-1B visas and how the highly-skilled Indian workforce contributes to the American economy,” Dr Ashok Sharma, Adjunct Faculty at the University of New South Wales, Canberra at Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), told Sputnik.

    The Indian minister also reiterated that India-US ties are mutually beneficial, while adding that the US is a major defense partner.

    “The relationship between India and the US is a relationship of mutual benefit. Since the Trump administration’s assumption of office, ties have not flagged but have progressed with same pace as under the (previous) Obama administration. We haven’t got any indication that they (the US) want to dilute this relationship,” Swaraj said.

    India-US ties have become more broad-based and based on core values of democracy, shared security concerns.

    “India-US relationship is not dependent on the H-1B visa and have transformed drastically over the past two decades. It's comprehensive, based on mutual interests, grounded in common democratic values and security concerns and is a defining partnership of the 21st century,” Sharma added.

    Apart from the H-1B visa issue, India-US ties have come under strain under the Trump administration’s policies in recent months. Barely a week ago, President Trump bracketed India and China as unduly benefiting from the 2015 Paris climate accord at the cost of the US.


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