In a covert move to limit the number of Chinese engineers coming to India to assemble power and infrastructure equipment, India’s Home Ministry has laid a cap of granting employment visa’s only to highly skilled employees with a minimum salary of US$25,000 per annum.
The recent circular issued by the ministry of home affairs says “Foreign nationals being sponsored for an employment visa in any sector should draw a salary in excess of $25,000 per annum. However, this condition of annual floor limit on income will not apply to ethnic cooks, language teachers (other than English), staff working for the embassy/high commission concerned in India.”
India has in the past too tired various measures to stall Chinese engineers who demand a frugal salary from coming to India and taking up temporary skilled jobs believed to be for Indians. However, the Chinese contend that if India needs Chinese equipment – which it does in order to scale its infrastructure rapidly, Chinese engineers should be granted employment visa’s to install the equipment.
Unable to find an amicable solution at the time, New Delhi, in December 2009, under the ministry of labour and employment, under its grant of employment visas policy, had capped the total workforce for the foreign nationals at 1 percent. Establishing that a company was allowed to hire a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20 employees. For power projects, the higher limit was kept at 40 foreign nationals.
On a larger scale, this move by the Indian Home Ministry, seeks to take a step back in Sino-Indian relations. At a time when Wen Jiabao, China’s Premier is expected to visit India, restricting visa’s to Chinese employees will only seek to sour relations on the trade and economic front – the only area where Indochina relations are fruitful. The move, if not removed will also soon backfire on India. China is currently in the process of drafting an immigration law that will grant entry selectively to highly skilled foreigners, a move that could limit opportunities for Indians in its largest trading partner and the world’s fastest growing economy.
Further, considering that the number of Indians that are employed in both Indian, Chinese and Foreign companies in China far outnumbers the Chinese in India, New Delhi shouldn’t be too worried about the Chinese taking Indian jobs nor of security to our infrastructure and power stations.