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On Tuesday, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah asked visiting UK Prime Minister Theresa May to view the issue of visas for Indian technology workers as one related to trade rather than immigration. It’s a message that has been delivered to May repeatedly during her visit: if the UK wants access to Indian markets, it must open its doors to Indian students and professionals. May took a hardline view on immigration when she was home minister.
While she may now want to project herself as scripting “a new, global, outward-looking role” for the UK, her visit offered scant evidence of any real shift in position. And the UK’s latest immigration policy is more stringent than ever.
New Delhi has petitioned Washington and London often on visas. But this time around, May is in a weak position with Brexit casting a long shadow over the UK’s economic future. A boost in bilateral trade with India is a big-ticket item for her. New Delhi must use this leverage effectively on behalf of India’s tech sector.