1) A walk-back
Biden shows intent on reworking immigration rules by not extending H-1B visa ban
GS 2: International Relation
President Joe Biden allowed a ban on issuance of H-1B visas for skilled workers to lapse at the end of March 2021
President Trump’s Immigration Policy (America First Ideology):
- President Donald Trump in June 2020, blocked the issuance of non-immigrant work visas of several types, including the skilled worker visa, or H-1B following the tightening immigration policy-aim of the policy was to stop foreign workers from decreasing American jobs.
- protecting U.S. jobs for Americans, in the context of the economic distress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, was a major immigration reform for President Trump.
- By some estimates, H-1B visa applications of up to 219,000 workers were likely blocked.
Impact on India:
- Mr. Biden’s action will have a significant and favourable impact for Indian nationals seeking employment with U.S. tech firms, as they garnered approximately 70%.of the 65,000 H-1B visas annually made available to private sector applicants other than students
- Yet, this raised genuine questions about whether such rules would set back the U.S.-India relationship by impacting Indian IT services exported to the U.S.
- These totalled approximately $29.7 billion in 2019, 3.0% ($864 million) more than 2018, and 143% greater than 2009 levels.
- Not only did the CEOs of Silicon Valley tech titans protest the clampdown on a key source of skilled labour driving their core operations, but some universities also filed lawsuits challenging a subsequent student visa ban last year, leading to a partial walk-back on the rules for the latter.
- Google CEO Sundar Pichai had lashed out at the policy, noting that Immigration had contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech.
- SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook have also expressed similar anguish against the policy.
- In allowing the H-1B visa ban to expire, Mr. Biden is walking a fine line between restoring the inflow of skilled workers into the U.S., a source of productivity-increase for its labour force, and not being seen as overly aggressive in unwinding Trump-era immigration policies.
- Biden administration should continue to push gradual reforms that nudge the U.S. economy and global strategic position back toward an ethos of multilateral cooperation and bilateral progress with countries such as India, while however retaining a sharp emphasis on policies that further U.S. national interest in a dramatically transformed post-COVID world.
2) A road map for tolerance
Racism will not be overcome with mere professions of good faith but with anti-racist action
GS 1: Society.
- UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris hosted a Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination on March 22, 2021, in partnership with the Republic of Korea.
- 21st March every year is marked as UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
- This provides an opportunity to explore the nuanced causes and consequences of modern racism, and renew an important commitment to combat discrimination.
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
- Racial discrimination, beyond being a breach of human rights, has harmful effects on human health and well-being, and risks wider disruptions to social cohesion
Forms of Racism:
- Current forms of racism and discrimination are complex and often covert
- Techno Racism: The use of new technologies and artificial intelligence in security raise the spectre of ‘techno-racism’, as facial recognition programmes can misidentify and target racialised communities.
- Anonymity of the Internet has allowed racist stereotypes and inaccurate information to spread online.
- At the onset of the pandemic, traffic to hate sites and specific posts against Asians grew by 200% in the U.S. In India and in Sri Lanka, social media groups and messaging platforms were used to call for social and economic boycotts of religious minorities, amid false information accusing them of spreading the virus
- Prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory acts, whether subtle or overt, aggravate existing inequalities in societies
- WHO has cautioned on the dangers of profiling and stigmatising communities that can lead to fear and the subsequent concealment of cases and delays in detection
- UNESCO’s actions against racism through education, the sciences, culture, and communication offer an example of a way forward.
- UNESCO promotes the role of education in providing the space for young people to understand processes that sustain racism, to learn from the past, and to stand up for human rights.
- Through new approaches to inter-cultural dialogue and learning, youth and communities can be equipped with skills to eradicate harmful stereotypes and foster tolerance.
- UNESCO also offers master classes to empower students to become champions of anti-racism in their schools and communities.
- The International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities provides an additional platform for city-level planning and a laboratory for good practices in the fight against racism.
- Recent and new manifestations of racism and discrimination call for renewed commitments to mobilise for equality.
- Racism will not be overcome with mere professions of good faith but must be combatted with anti-racist action.
- A global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination is built first and foremost in the minds of women and men.
- The words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan remain pertinent: “Our mission is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”