Indian IT do not depend on H-1B visa: Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka
Washington: Infosys Ltd chief executive officer Vishal Sikka has refuted the general impression that the Indian IT industry is overly dependent on H-1B visas for its business mode, amid US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on firms using the visa system to hire foreign workers on a low wage.
Sikka also believes that the Indian IT industry needs to grab the opportunities provided by new technologies like artificial intelligence to retain its edge in globally.
“It is wrong to say and to think that we are dependent on H-1Bs. For example, if you look over the last 10 years, there are about 65,000, something like that, H-1B visas granted every year. That means over 10 years it is 650,000. And we collectively employ millions of people. Infosys alone has 200,000 employees. TCS close to double that number and so on,” 50-year-old Sikka told PTI in an interview.
So, the assumption that Indian IT firms are dependent on H-1B visas is not correct, he said in response to a question on whether major Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) will be hit by the Trump administration’s moves.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to raise the issue with the US president during his White House meeting in Washington next week.
During his wide-ranging phone conversation from Palo Alto in California, Sikka acknowledged that over the last decade and a half, the H-1B visa has a fair amount of use.
“But, ultimately it has always been about delivering value,” he asserted. “The Indian IT industry has delivered a tremendous amount of value, especially in the US. But the nature of that value delivery is changing dramatically. Just as in the past it was easier and it was possible to move jobs to India or to companies where large amount of work would happen in India. So, these kind of a global delivery model or onsite, offshore and so forth... More and more of the work can now be done with the automation.”
Responding to another question, Sikka said that as more work is becoming automated, IT firms need to focus on areas such as “artificial intelligence (AI), like machine learning, like internet openings and you know, voice interfaces and chat interfaces, virtual reality, cyber security and these kinds of things”.
“I think that is what the future is going to be all about. It is, every aspect of our life is being transformed by software. Every aspect of our life is being transformed by AI. And we have to embrace this,” Sikka said. Indian IT firms, including Infosys, have already embarked on this path, he said. “I think that in general we are, the industry is still in the early stages and I’m very happy with what we are doing at Infosys,” he added.
“We have also given back a lot over the last 35 years. And now we have a plan to bring in 10,000 new generation jobs here in the US in the next two years. We already started down that path, we opened our first center already in Indianapolis. We are going to hire 500 people there by next year. We will have other centers that will be coming up in the near future,” he said.
The Indian IT industry already contribute a lot to the US economy and it will do even more, said Sikka.
“We are committed to the US economy. So I think that in addition, beyond hiring and the local economy and the contribution and so forth, it is about innovation. It is about creating jobs with new kinds of skills,” he said. PTI