Indian Fish in American Waters

This is the name of a low-budget movie which is billed as a romantic comedy. I did not find it either romantic or funny.

The "romance" occurs between Naveen who comes to the NY-NJ area on an H-1B visa and an Indian-American woman who is the friend of Bobby, the guy who owns the body shop that is his "employer". The drama, romance and comedy - such as they are - result from the cultural divide between the FOB (fresh of the boat) and ABCD (American-Born Confused/Compassionate Desi).

I urge everyone to watch it (it is available on Netflix), if only to see the business practices of body shops that bring hordes of H-1B visa holders to these shores. On the very first day, Bobby tells Naveen the rules:

  • he will stay at the "guest house" with 3 other H-1Bs
  • he will not be paid while he is on the bench
  • he cannot smoke or drink or party or have girlfriends over, and so on.

In one scene Bobby listens in on a phone call that Naveen makes. At one point there is a reference to a job interview and after some time Naveen seems to land an actual job. I thought H-1Bs were granted to people who already have jobs. Fool me!  

One of Naveen's room-mates is shown watching a cricket match on TV. When he gets a call from the office, he tells them he is home sick (because he has paid all of $70 to subscribe to the cricket match), and then goes on to arrogantly describe how indispensable he is at his job.

The questionable business practices are bad enough. But, the fact that they are portrayed without any qualms whatsoever is simply shocking. Even the other  characters (Indians) who have nothing to do with IT, but who are familiar with these under-handed business practices, don't express any misgivings or reservations about associating with Bobby and Naveen. The tone of the movie suggests that when it comes to Indians and outsourcing considerations of ethics, morality or truth are non-existent . It is all about the mighty dollar and somehow obtaining the coveted green card.

After watching this movie, I googled the name of the producer/director. His name is Manish Gupta.and here is his bio:

A native of Madhya Pradesh, Gupta believes in experimenting—with his films and his life. After taking his MBA from Haryana’s Kurukshetra University, he moved from Delhi to Mumbai to Indore working in airlines, in travel agencies and as a university professor. These were interspersed with spells as a writer, painter and photographer. "I kept changing hats," he says. "It was very easy." Then, in 1998, he felt his life was going nowhere and migrated to the US with Malvika. They worked as software programmers before Gupta moved into IT marketing and sales.

I cannot help wondering how a guy with this resume becomes one of the so-called "best and brightest". In a sense, reading his bio explains how he (and people he associates with) likely got to America.

As an Indian-American who works in IT, I hang my head in shame.

 

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Comments

Love in a Cube

There is also nothing also more odious to me than corporations or films encouraging sexual relationships and work mix. How convenient for everyone, unless of course it blows up, possibly literally.

Corporations market that green card like someone won the lottery and frankly for most cultures, economies these days the quality of life, standard of living is very good where they are. It's sales and marketing like Viagra.

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No real job all too common

Many of the H-1B's I have worked with have told me about their arrangement.

The company holds the H-1B and offers (at a price) health insurance as required by the law. That's it. The H-1B has to find their own projects, typically moves to the location of the project and stays in a room with several other people in the same situation. The company takes a chunk off the top, acting as a payroll administrator and sponsors them for their green card. For all intents and purposes, they are independent consultants.

After a few years, they decide it's time to get married. They go back home and a couple of weeks later they come back with a 'wife', often someone they just met while they were over there as an arranged marriage. In most cases if we were to do this, it would be considered fraud. Anybody gone overseas for a week or so, gotten married to someone you didn't know, and try to get them into the country? How did that go over?

Anyway, I was also pretty sure it was illegal to bring someone in on an H-1B and not give them a salary or guaranteed pay. Of course, there's no place to report abuses like this.

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Americans 1st

That's a fundamental principle upon which I agree with. A nation-state's country) first duty is to provide for it's people, that means it's citizens, it's members of that nation-state.

Right now policy seems to be worrying about Americans last.

I also think it doesn't help that Bush has gutted the DOL and the EEOC rules and administration.

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