Washington, March 5: Outsourcing of American jobs to India is rapidly igniting sentiment here similar to anti-Japanese feelings in the 1980s when Japan flooded this country with their cars and consumer goods closing down US factories.
Captain Neil Telford of San Bruno police in California told reporters yesterday that hate calls to an Indian American candidate in the Democratic primaries for the US Congress were being investigated.
Andres Ramirez, campaign manager for Rohit Khanna, told the police that Khanna’s office yesterday received 40 to 50 “very vulgar, angry and aggressive calls”, some of them threatening to eliminate Khanna and his staff.
Some calls asked Khanna to “go back to India”, others screamed: “Stop taking all our jobs”. The police considered the calls serious enough to shield Khanna from going to his campaign office.
Last night, Khanna lost by a landslide to sitting Congressman Tom Lantos who, incidentally, relies heavily on Indian Americans for his work on Capitol Hill.
At the height of anti-Japanese sentiment in the 1980s, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American in Detroit, was mistaken for a Japanese and murdered by an auto worker who had lost his job.
The vitriolic phone calls to Khanna came on a day when both supporters and opponents of outsourcing girded their loins for what promises to be a long fight involving this latest aspect of globalisation, ardently promoted by Americans only as long as it benefited them.
Yesterday, the US Senate, in a convincing vote of 70 against 26, passed an amendment to a bill aimed at stopping companies from sending government work outside the US, if those jobs were previously done within the country. It has to go through several stages before becoming law, if at all.
In the House of Representatives this week, Congressman Bernie Sanders and as many as 50 others put forward a bill that will prohibit companies from access to federal grants, loans and loan guarantees if they lay off more American workers than in other countries.
“Companies should not be asking for US government handouts if they want to secretly throw American workers out on the street while they are expanding employment overseas,” the main author of the legislation said.
“The American people also have a right not to give corporate welfare to those companies that are leaving the US for India, China or Mexico,” Sanders argued.
Anger against outsourcing will increase following a US labour department report today showing that private-sector employment was stagnant in February, and government jobs rose by a mere 21,000.
The report also significantly revised downward earlier job creation figures published for December and January.
In a prospectus filed before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in New York, General Electric, meanwhile, warned that “the political climate in the US could change so that it would not be practical for us to use international operations centres, such as call centres”.
The company, which faces a resolution on outsourcing from its trade union at the next Annual General Meeting, warned shareholders that profits could be affected by curbs on overseas operations.
Great Wall Acquisition Corporation, a holding company for investments in China, warned SEC “it is possible that China-based companies will no longer maintain the significant price advantages over foreign companies”, if restrictions are brought by Congress.
At the same time, finance minister Jaswant Singh added his voice to the controversy. In an interview published in USA Today, Singh said: “I am convinced the logic of outsourcing is such that eventually it will reassert itself...The logic of it is irrefutable.”
He said: “India, too, is outsourcing. So many things are being outsourced in high technology, certain aspects of research. It is now a two-way traffic. It is not a one-way traffic.”