Racial bias

The tightening of visa rules by the British government for Indian professionals, mainly those working in the IT sector, is the latest in a series of protectionist measures adopted by the country ostensibly to protect jobs and keep them for its nationals. Avoidance of protectionist actions has been an important recommendation made by economists and forums like the G-20 in the wake of the global recession of last year. The flow of goods, services and people across national borders with only the minimum restrictions has been accepted as an important condition for economic revival. But governments have only paid lip service to the idea and have often based their actions on narrow and shortsighted considerations. The new UK rules will make it extremely difficult for Indian IT professionals to go to Britain on inter-company transfers after this month. They are required to have 12 months’ working experience before they can go to Britain and cannot settle down there after five years, as the present rules allow.

The racial bias in the new rules makes them specially abhorrent, and violative of the traditions of British society. The new rules are seen to be directed against Asians and non-whites. The reasons are claimed to be a combination of  economic and national security factors. Britain is in bad financial straits and has not recovered from the recession as many other countries have. It wants to prevent jobs from being taken away by others, as America also has also tried to do, but does not realise that the restrictions will only further damage the economy. The immigration authorities have also been found to be obstructive in the grant of visas to foreign students, and this too causes major losses to the British economy. Genuine students have been routinely denied visas on the pretext of preventing terrorists from entering the country. Foreign students, who have to pay much higher fees, actually  subsidise the education of British students. The universities are financially weak and need foreign students but the government policies and actions have made it difficult for non-white students to pursue higher education in Britain.

The Gordon Brown government is politically weak and feels that populist policies will help it in the next elections which are just months away. But it is harming the interests of the country and blotting its image by implementing a discriminatory policy on working and studying in Britain.

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