WEF 2022: IT visas and going abroad is obsolete

WEF 2022: IT visas and going abroad is obsolete

As global uncertainty grows the world over due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, or over the inflationary pressure presently building up over the globe's major economies, the resounding point at WEF's India pavilion has been the transformative nature of technology, and the growing weight of the Indian economy that is being felt the world over.

World Economic Forum 2022 World Economic Forum 2022

Tech is the new oil –- a cliché if there was ever one, especially in the context of India –- one of the largest importers of the commodity. And even as crude oil keeps roiling inflation in our country of nearly 1.4 billion people, it is the information technology sector that is the single largest, continuing contributor through its exports and brand presence to the ‘India everywhere’ story globally.

Regardless of the uncertainty unleashed across the globe by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the inflationary spiral that is biting consumers in the most advanced economies and the pressure on the global trade order, the Indian IT sector continues to be on firm footing. Growth may slow down as consumer demand weakens globally, but CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra is clear that even during these tough times, the tech sector has a better outlook than others because commerce has moved to digital.

So, it is only in the fitness of things that among the larger industry pavilions at the promenade near the World Economic Forum congress centre in Davos are those of HCL Technologies and Wipro Ltd – both marquee Indian IT brands who have thousands of non-Indian employs on their payrolls and continue to expand and grow their business.

And as macroeconomic uncertainties weigh on decision makers in global firms, C. Vijayakumar, the MD & CEO of HCL Technologies told me that his company has increased the hiring of local talent in nearly 80 per cent of the countries it operates in globally. More importantly, he says, that while Indian employees will continue to be required, as all skill levels are not available in foreign markets, but “IT visas and going abroad is obsolete." The new reality, he said in response to my question, is that of “work from anywhere”.

While I am not sure what that would mean in the long run for the American dream of many Indian youngsters in engineering schools across the country, it is clear that Indian firms will continue to do big business with the United States of America. “The US will continue to remain as the largest market for Indian IT firms and account for over half of their annual revenues”, Kumar adds.

On a separate note, Rishad Premji, Chairman, Wipro Ltd, told my colleague Rahul Kanwal that nearly 45 per cent of his workforce has not worked in company offices. This from a company that is hiring 40,000 people this year during a time when demand for tech engineers is high and the supply finite.

Gurnani summed it up well with remarks on how the perception has changed about India. “The reality is that many years ago when the Narendra Modi administration came to power, an Indian delegation led by the late Arun Jaitley came to Davos. People did not take him seriously. Today, the same set of people know India will grow at 8-9 per cent versus the world at 3 per cent”.

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