The Evil Job-Stealing Urine-Drinking Wife-beating Hindoo Menace!
In the 15 years since the H-1B began, a strong U.S.-based Indian diaspora has emerged, in part because of the visa program, to become one of America's most successful minority groups. It has also become politically powerful within India. Many Indians in the U.S. are strong supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, leader of the opposition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government; U.S.-based Indians often make donations to BJP causes and lobby through its parent body, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (Global Alliance of Hindus). Courting nonresident Indians has been a consistent fundraising tactic for the BJP and VHP, especially since a large proportion of the Indian diaspora in the U.S. comes from Gujarat, a state north of Mumbai where the BJP holds power and is more popular than elsewhere in the country.
So as news trickled in about the provision in the stimulus bill, political groups in India swung into action. The VHP first asked India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to see if he could arrange for Indians losing their H-1Bs to have more than the regulated 30 days to leave the U.S., allowing them to sell their houses and settle their affairs with more flexibility. A spokesman for Mukherjee says no action has been taken on that letter.
Call for a Boycott
Then, the VHP decided on a more popular approach, calling for Indian consumers to boycott the goods of 14 U.S. multinationals. Praveen Togadia, general secretary of the VHP, declines to share the list of the companies the group plans on targeting. He says a boycott is justified. "If these policies hurt Indians abroad, then we have to take steps to hurt American companies in India," he says. "The reaction must be strong, or else who knows if the legally resident Indians in the U.S. are one day thrown out."
Unlike the BJP, the Indian government is trying to take a less confrontational approach, with New Delhi taking what the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry calls a "holistic view" of the visa issue.