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Countries that are reducing numbers of immigrant workers (qz.com)
78 points by silentguy 186 days ago | hide | past | web | 80 comments | favorite

As a matter of fact, in India, engineers mostly avoid service based Indian companies like Infosys, CTS, TCS unless otherwise they are in the extreme bottom end of the funnel (they just need a job) or at the extreme top end (disproportionate high pay).

These firms are notorious for their carrot (probable on-site opportunities) and stick (mindless work hours clocking among others) approach, and their typical workplace is full of discontent and frustration. Just for an example, I have known people working there who were trying to game the clocking system by finding a bug that allowed them to leave early provided they clock before midnight from any of the offices which would increase their clocking hours.

That aside, these firms are just a small part of the actual tech scene in India, except they have sheer numbers when it comes to the H1B process, which kind of projects these firms as representative entities of Indian engineers.

While many Indians seeking employment abroad are impacted a lot by these changes, I don't think the sentiment behind these changes has much to do with Indian people per se. There's a global backlash against too much immigration in general. Indians are just caught in the mix.

People are tired of the corporate owned politicians allowing companies to run roughshod over the laws, morals & expectations of society.

This is expressed in many ways, from xenophobia to the rise of Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump. People don't want another corporate owned shill like either of the Clintons, both Bushes, and Obama, and I'd wager that Obama knew this in 2008, hence why he made sure his moderately grassroots organization was put out to pasture safely.

We need to stop the union busting, bring back workers rights, prosecute Walmart & T-Mobile for their union response teams (where most potentially "infected" employees are fired), and fight for a better future.

I think we should open our borders, but when it comes to employment we should strive to avoid what has happened in Canada, where low cost workers from overseas work at every single Tim Hortons.

If they didn't want a corporate owned shill why did they elect a corporate shill?

>where low cost workers from overseas work at every single Tim Hortons.

This isn't reality I think you need to check your information sources.

The Canadian government has since cracked down on handing out visas for fast food workers, but in 2014 it was a big deal


Trump shills for himself, while the others are much more nebulous.

We have to take it on faith because we have no tax returns to check who he owns money too.

This is satire right? I'm struggling to see how obama rates as corporate shill while trump is somehow an angel...

Trump is no angel, and I sincerely hope you did not take my comment that way. I hate Trump, he is a myopic, self-centered late stage capitalist that can't handle basic logic.

That being said Obama was no angel, TPP, SOPA & PIPA were all corporatist bills he fought for alongside Keystone XL, and he was happy to feed the military industrial complex while warmongering overseas while letting the drug wars continue in the US.

Why waste our resources on stupid wars and bad policies that most Americans dislike?

People may view them as such. Trump fans seem to think of him as a anti establishment figure.

I disagree. At least here in New Zealand, there's a subtle racist undertone, you never hear people complaining about all the Europeans arriving.

People conveniently ignore the fact that we receive as many immigrants from Europe as from Asia (including India but excluding the Middle East).

Not denying racist undertones. But I think then a more accurate headline would be "Non-white techies not wanted" rather than just Indian. But for example, backlash in US is because of illegal hispanic immigration (there's some anti-Indian H1B related stuff as well tho some of the anger at H1B is not without reason). In the UK it's fear of non-white and EU immigration (ex. the polish plumber stereotype). In France and most of Europe, it's fear of Muslim immigration. In all cases, as far as I can tell, it's low skilled mass immigration that's driving the anxiety. So I think the causes and far more complex and it's problematic to think of it as just an anti-Indian techie backlash.

In the UK we have had a 'Polish plumber' stereotype develop over the last decade or so. Basically, if you want your plumbing or building done properly then you really want the 'Polish plumber' and not the British guy. It is commonly understood that the Pole has the work ethic, the Brit from the estate down the road does not.

I think that parallel to the 'Polish plumber' we had the 'Indian call center' stereotype happen. The call to the call center was a horrific thing, thank goodness that off-shore madness came to an end. Along the way I think a lot of things were tarnished, any work with an Indian company would have overtones of the call center nightmare years.

Nationalistic tribalism, such as we're seeing now, usually comes and goes as a cycle.

My hypothesis: Increasing automation puts pressure on the job market, leading to such sentiment. We're seeing this effect, the world over. And India being the largest low-cost English-speaking tech-center will feel this effect the largest.

I guess the silver lining is that this will stop the brain-brain from India, hopefully leading to a more stronger local tech and other industries.

I wouldn't say it's all down to populism and tribalism. The company I worked for in the UK laid off over 1000 local IT staff and replaced them with people on Tier 2 visas from Tata Consultancy Services and Tech Mahindra who were willing to work for significantly less than our salaries.

Agreed that the replacement happens.

I'm saying "give jobs to locals than outsiders" is tribalism. (Not saying if it's right or wrong -- just that it's by definition tribalism).

Not sure if it's tribalism so much as protecting the local economy against salary arbitrage.

Are the products of your "local economy" sold locally. If not, then you have no right to claim protection.

People don't want what's fair, people want what's better for them.

I don't want my wage to lower just so people in the third world can live better because I, honestly, don't give a fuck about them. That's the sentiment that's rising lately.

And this is where the tribalism comes in to play. At some point, governments have to do what's fair and not what the angry mob they represents want. White Europeans might've wanted colonialism hundreds of years ago, and to this day some people don't really care when their military commits war crimes against "them".

It's hard for me to sympathise with the view that "the real unfairness here is that people born in miserable conditions are happy to do my job for less, so I'm the victim here".

"At some point, governments have to do what's fair and not what the angry mob they represents want."

Fair to whom? A government has to be fair primarily to their subjects. It's their subject's trust and resources that mandate government's power. Outsiders haven't contributed with nothing prior to their coming so it's unfair to give them equal amount of consideration about anything in the first place.

Unfortunately rights are not much applicable in international matters. They are governed by laws which can benefit locals or treaties which can benefit both parties.

I have seen in India even in same nation people from one state want to throw out people from different states as they are taking jobs and resources that are supposed for locals.

I hope the India govt moves fast now. The should take this opportunity to improve local infrastructure and put in reforms for a domestic software economy. The TCS, Infosys & Wipro helped kickstart the software revolution in India but they need to take this to a better conclusion than it is now. We need product based companies in India and we need a strong local domestic market. It needs to retain it's talent at home. Any Indians want to chime in on whether this is likely? I hear great things about Modi.

TCS, Infosys & Wipro are more of a sweatshops than innovative companies...

They weren't from day one. At some point the idea and implementation of cost arbitrage was itself innovation.


The govt is already working really fast, and in general all govts have been working fast since 1991.

Making a market and nation building is just hard stuff.

How are you going to make product firms from scratch?

By building a market?

For that at the very least you need connectivity - the current govt has always focused on laying infra and highways.

But that still means people need money to buy stuff, and we have a hugely messed up labor market with a strong dependence on agriculture.

We're 50 years away from anything like what people may want to hear to have a "good" ending.

But this is also a market for people who are able and capable of getting their hands and heads truly dirty.

Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't see how India can move from a services/back office economy to product development until expats with such experience move back. Our education quality is pathetically dismal, infrastructure within cities needs improvement, red tape needs to go etc. We don't have enough risk takers and many of us are risk averse.

I think the key is convincing expats to come back, which is hard.

How can they ? India's education system/institutions is meant/nourished to serve the English-speaking countries.

As a small business owner, revenue streams are fickle these days. It makes pay as you go, zero hour labour alluring even if it's more expensive because it can be planned according to the revenue stream.

This same discipline leads one to encapsulate work better. A senior data scientist goes for £700/d in London; theres a significant advantage to being able to use her counterpart in Delhi.

It is salary arbing. It is also inevitable. Companies buy services that they could perform themselves more often than not, in order to keep focus on core business. After a certain price they don't.

Forcing the immigrants away pushes up prices, which literally changes the internals of companies and how and what they buy over time. this is constantly afoot but there's an inherent risk that any given change may be for the worse.

Being an Indian engineer myself the funniest part is that regardless of your branch/stream almost every person in my college got an IT job (your branch is decided by the entrance test).

We had a saying about TCS in our college "trespassers will be recruited". And they asked chemical engineering and GK questions during the placement tests. It was so weird when I think about it now.

What are examples are branch/stream? Are they just different engineering majors like Civil, Chemical, Mechanical?

Yes that is exactly it.

Competition is really fierce in Indian engineering colleges. The ratio is 1 out 10K (or something similar) for getting into good colleges so you end up picking any branch you can get.

I'm not sure how it is in other countries though.

Kind of the same in the US. Some majors are "impacted" which means tougher to get in due to heavy demand. Computer science/engineering used to be tough to get into even 20 years back before the internet became popular.

Yes, branch/stream is same as majors.

If India were smart they would copy China and ban Facebook, Google and the rest of the American web companies. This would have the effect of creating powerhouse Indian web companies similar to Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, etc in China which are now starting to break out to become global brands. India more than has the talent to pull this off.

China didn't ban those web companies for using their local talent. They did it as part of their censorship practices. There are plenty of Indian people working now in Google, Facebook etc. Google CEO itself is an Indian. It would be extremely foolish of any government to ban any entity solely to create an alternative with the hope of utilising its local talent. In India, so far this kind of discussions is solely focused on getting tax concessions for home grown companies (like for Flipkart, Ola which are Indian Amazon, Uber respectively). Even then, they are faced with lot of flak, since their investor money is mostly from abroad.

You can't be serious. This would lead to absolute chaos. India is not China. It is an actual democracy, for a start.

People recognize Indian engineers (competent or not, racism or no) as the weapons of wage suppression.

I mean, when you put your "scum-bag profit or nothing boss" thinking hat on, it makes so much sense.

You can hire these people, and they'll accept extremely noncompetitive wages (lowers wages), over-saturates the labour market (lowers wages), AND gives a nice boost to PR because on the outside it seems like this company is "diversely hiring from all backgrounds".


All the people who didn't wear that hat-- got fired by the people who did.

1.I don’t agree with the author, issue is local job loss due to immigration 2.Don’t forget Google and Microsoft CEO’s are INDIAN Engineers 3.Looks odd A Global leader Country advocating protectionism 4.Rather than job loss at micro level check How many Job loss due to wrong practice by companies to make more profits check “double-Irish” tax system used by Google, Apple and Oracle 5.Check Job loss due to scandals Enron,Lehman brothers http://www.accounting-degree.org/scandals/ 6.Yes its eye opener for Indians only focusing on services thats why we don’t have Baidu,Yandex and QQ What will happen If every country started nationalism, protectionism and avoids Products made by other countries? Who will hurt more?

I met an Aussie guy here in Shenzhen this week who is quite wealthy indeed and who actually wants to spend money to bring some manufacturing to Australia from China.

Unfortunately, he can't get a visa for the one (Chinese) employee who really needs it (to plan out the factory and begin many million dollars of investment), and can't get a reason why out of the immigration department. Nobody in Australia can do the job because they don't have experience with current gear (Australian manufacturing is today basically a few specialist, legacy facilities and some defense-related stuff only) and it's only documented in Chinese.

Because the guy is wealthy and well connected and Australia is a small place, he managed to get some phone calls directly with the Immigration Minister, Mr. D., who essentially said "re-apply, I can't do anything". Meanwhile, the target region (with no jobs) has lost 200 planned jobs (including 30% committed to be allocated to disabled workers, and others likely to be allocated to challenged demographics such as aged workers) and the significant accompanying economic stimulation from the planned facility, and the guy is paying 10s of 1000s a month in opportunity costs. True story, this week.

What a rubbish article.

In Australia for example it has NOTHING to with Indians and the situation is basically the same in all the countries listed. It is pure politics within the right-wing governments in power caused by the rise of nationalism, the struggles of blue collar workers who have been left behind and the fear of terrorism.

Politicians are so scared of being flanked by the right (e.g. Tony Abbott in Australia) that they are pushing the anti-immigrant angle at every opportunity. But if you look at the details you will see that any immigration changes are more about "feeling good" than doing anything substantive. For example recent changes in Australia have seen a "values" test added which is hilariously pointless. And in fact we have made it easier for highly skilled migrants to enter the country e.g. Indian IT consultants.

All these returning engineers might be a great opportunity for India.

There will be a personal cost to many many of them becoming unemployed, but you are right - there will be some companies starting out this.

> Countries that are reducing numbers of immigrant workers

Is this headline accurate? Are numbers of immigrant workers reducing?

The H1B visa program is always over-subscribed more than 4x so if the number of applicants decreases, there is still the same number coming in.

Every country looks to be trying to reduce low-skilled immigration which is fair enough.

Its tiring these days that every headline is made alarmist by lumping all immigrants into one big group. Illegal immigration vs legal immigration is always referred to as simply "immigration". Low skilled vs high skilled = immigrant. Temporary working visa vs. foreign-born US citizen = immigrant.

A rare example of government legislation being ahead of private sector practice.

Despite the title of the article, I see one thing unmentioned: general reputation of incompetence. However, nearly everybody I know in IT, from different countries and backgrounds, knows "Indian code" to be a meme of not only bad quality but gross, mind-boggling incompetence.

I don't have a personal experience with indian companies and/or engineers, so don't have a personal opinion on that matter. If anything, it seems strange to me to translate an opinion about outsourcing companies from a poor country to top engineers from that country immigrating abroad. But regardless of whether that opinion is valid or not, people believe it and it certainly has an impact.

I've met a few brilliant Indian engineers. I asked one of them why he was different to his peers.

He explained that most of his peers don't enjoy or like what they are doing. They chose to become a developer, because it's a potential path to become a 'manager', which has a higher status in the eyes of their parents, friends and family.

Edit: But we have to be careful not to stereo type. I think a comment made here is pretty good 'Shit code doesn't have nationality'. We just need to understand the motivators for people to become an engineer and if the joy of creating something with code isn't up there and it's mainly about money or a stepping stone to higher status, then code quality will suffer as it seems.

Shit code does not have nationality, but different nations have different market and education dynamics. Those greatly influence the amount of shit code created. The same education boom that creates a glut of not so competent opportunists is also very likely to increase the absolute number of brilliant developers, just maybe at a lower rate. But those are completely invisible if you only ever buy man-hours from the lowest bidder, so the stereotype does not come from thin air. Instead of trying to completely dispose of the stereotype on the basis of racism I think that it would be far more meaningful to focus on diverting the stereotype from the incorrect base of ethnicity to the actual base of a very specific economical situation. In a gold rush you will meet many non-expert miners.

True, I am an Indian engineer living in India and have written one of the most user friendly guides to writing webapps in Go, https://github.com/thewhitetulip/web-dev-golang-anti-textboo...

Thus, we can't just generalize.

Thanks for sharing that link. A developer friend wants to explore GO, so I'll be forwarding your work.

The pleasure is mine :)

Thank you for forwarding!

> He explained that most of his peers don't enjoy or like what they are doing. They chose to become a developer, because it's a potential path to become a 'manager', which has a higher status in the eyes of their parents, friends and family.

Apart from social status, the career path is also a way to earn enough money for a decent lifestyle.

Shit code doesn't have nationality. But in general outsourcing works only if you have strong technical leadership onshore. And this job sucks. I managed Infy's onshore/offshore team and it was decent but it was hard due to our management being dickheads and Indians being shielded by their management so basically our comms were filtered by two layers of nonsense and 1-2 days of time difference. Onshore guys were great but I always felt for them not being treated nicely by Infy and being pretty powerless in the process. Actually this is why the project was outsourced first place as us locals just ask too many questions and often say WHY and NO to stupid requirements.

> "Shit code doesn't have nationality."

It obviously has if they come from a country where education is generally shitty when in comes to know how to code.

I'm not saying that's the case with India since I know nothing about the education there, but as a general proposition, yes, it seems obvious that people from some a particular country can be generally shitty coders due to their education system of course.

I doubt there's a correlation between primary/secondary education systems and coding ability of general populace. Seems to be driven more by access to internet and programming tools.

Then you haven't interacted with people who can google details of some API but have almost unsolvable issues with basic logic.

The bad "Indian code" is what the client is paying for. If you pay 1/10th of American salary to recruit developers in India who are at the bottom of the stack in terms of competency, what are you expecting?. Everything is magnified in India because of the population. We have bad coders to CEOs of American corporations.

But this works as well. Thats why TCS, Infosys, etc are billionaire dollar enterprises.

Outsourcing companies in Ukraine or Russia don't have the same problem.

That is not because Ukraine and Russia don't have bad (hence cheap) IT staff.

It has more to do with IT resources from India generally tend to be the sweet spot of cheap enough and good enough (for a cheapskate, penny foolish myopic offshoring companies) resources.

Hm. I can get a competent developer from Russia for $1000 a month plus taxes; how much does that super-cheap Indian developer cost?

A competent IT developer / analyst can be hired for about 450 - 600 GBP per day. Run of the mill, hit or miss offshore resources provided by TCS / Infosys etc are usually billed at 150 - 300 GBP per day.

I would disagree. I've worked on legacy products created by Eastern European engineers that were absolute nightmares.

Come on what general reputation of incompetence? Just take a look at proportion of indians at top engineering and management positions in Tech Companies.

This "meme" is nothing but some racist stereotype pushed by old commenters on Slashdot style website who paint themselves to be next turing award material.

Guess what the Market never lies and you get what you pay for! Those who pay the best/most still have large number of indians throughout the hierarchy.

So that meme is nothing but outright xenophobia not too different from the ones propagated in past against Italians, Irish, Japanese or Jews.

Call it whatever you want, the average indian github account has some of the weirdest shit I've ever seen. Saving stuff to txt instead of database, make download 500kb json on each login, callback hell...

I'm sure a proper indian engineer wont do this stuff, but the quantity of indian people who make bad code (and bad english) amazes me.

> the quantity of indian people who make bad code (and bad english) amazes me.

The quantity of anything in a 1.2Bn people nation will surprise you.

The ratio however, is a different point. I'm not saying your conclusions are wrong. I'm just saying that quantity isn't the right factor to draw conclusions. Specially, for a country like India.

"Saving stuff to txt instead of database, make download 500kb json on each login, callback hell"

>> Are you sure you are not suffering from observational bias or some fallacy? With a shit colored lens, I can replicate the same observation for almost any other nationality.

The proportion of Indians at the top does not give the right picture. The Market means a lot of things. There might be a market for low cost and cheap things now and a need for high quality later. The current reason for the top management and engineering position just reflects this snapshot. In the dot-com boom the market did not need high quality engineers. As the market matures it needs more and more high quality engineers. Currently it is both a good and bad thing. It will weed out a lot of terrible engineers and the good ones who were obscured by the politics might froth to the top. The bad thing is that a lot of good engineers would simply be phased out of the market in the coming implosion.

I've worked with the really shitty Indian programmers, the dishonest one, and occasionally one that was both!

However, I also worked with a couple of really brilliant ones...

But then again I also worked with non-endian programmers that shared all the same characteristics in my 30y career.

However, I also have to say that some of the poor endian programmers manage to play the 'diversity' card very well; I know one that I wanted to fire the first day he arrived as he was clearly completely incompetent. HR was involved, and he still managed to waste time and resources for eighteen months before he actually ...quit...

I hate to say it, but I do suspect that a boring white guy would have been fired well before the end of his first month... During all that time, the guy was reported for completely faking demos, lying about task completions, but he still manage to survive 3 'performance improvement plans' from HR.

When you charge by the hour, competence is not a virtue.

(dont really have any experience working with their code, but in general I'd say that the Indians I went to school with were the more competent of the bunch, if you want to compare grad students to undergrads at least)

All you have to do is go look at the cluster that projects like ASTPP are to see what low quality developers (in their case from India) get you. The project started with a solid technical foundation (Freeswitch, MySQL, Nginx), was built in PHP (not great), and they proceeded to break or mis-implement Least Cost Routing (you can't do an LRN DIP to find the underlying carrier, nor can you import a normal NANPA voice ratedeck), multi-domain (everyone is on one domain) and block selling under cost or at negative rates.

It shouldn't be this hard, Freeswitch literally does most of this for you (LCR & multi-domain), it is just a matter of building a simple GUI on it.

Good quality Indian coder won't be working for an hourly wage. If they are really good they have already moved on to the fortune 500.

I don't really get why the submission title was changed from the initial "Everywhere Indian engineers are unwanted," to the current one, since the former is the literal title in the linked article and its actual focus ?

I'm all for having reasonable Politically Correctness on HN, it just seems weird in this case.

Visas are essential only for jobs for which face-2-face spitting is deemed a must. I am a programmer. I do not remember to ever have done a project where this was the case. If the client insists on unimportant issues, already when just recruiting programmers, what is the likelihood that his project will NOT fail? Every piece of bullshit is always just the beginning. You should expect an entire avalanche of bullshit to follow after that. In that sense, Indian programmers who worry about visas, undoubtedly deserve to worry about them, while the ones who don't worry about visas, know exactly why they do not need to worry about them.

American salaries along with low taxes are way more attractive even compared to Nordic countries which apart from high taxes also have some of the highest living costs in the world.

The whole debate on suppressing incomes is quite debatable. Though one can see the argument for people who have spent decades working exclusively on legacy systems. When these become cost centres, companies try and outsource them.

The brief period that I spent working for an Indian outsourcer, I noticed almost every project was about maintenance of legacy systems.

Bringing in low cost foreign workers to maintain a system directly drags down the average wage, hurting Americans in the IT industry and lowering their income & benefits. Foreign workers are a tool that companies like to use to scare IT workers away from organizing & unionizing, keeping the Americans they do employ under foot and poorly paid.

As an example, Kroger has a support center for its Fred Meyer brand of stores in Portland, OR. As of last year, they were paying $12hr while expecting in depth networking knowledge, familiarity with SUSE & SunOS, and the ability to write moderately complex scripts for these legacy systems.

Comparatively, another employee who was transfered from Portland to Cleveland went from making a little over $14hr to $120k a year, as the market in Cleveland is apparently so barren of talent that poaching is a serious issue.

What you say is true, but as I mentioned that works only with legacy systems, which are often just cost centres.

There are in general very few people who can work with or want to work with legacy systems and therefore does demand a very good pay but it does not add any value to the American economy.

These aren't legacy systems, just a few years back Kroger started moving off IBM 4690, which was a legacy OS. That is gone from most areas of the business at this point, hence the expectation to be familiar with SUSE.


Or he'll ignore all (ok 98%) of his campaign promises while ruthlessly lining his and his offspring's pockets... You know... Either or...

(Hint: He'll be lining his pockets.)

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