“Green Carrot – America’s Work Visa Crisis” : Book Release (October 1st,2014)
By Rajiv Dabhadkar
Summary: When we speak of people migration in the context of social reality – there exists a cultural disconnect that creates social inequality amongst workers.
Overview: After spending most of my adult life working as a migrant worker and studying the process of human migration, I have written this book with a focus on issues most commonly faced by Indian workers while working overseas. The book is dedicated to the real life issues in the process of human migration. It discusses people movement that is tied to immigration and trade policy, where workers are treated as a commodity and is not just about selling a product or a service. It is about finding the future. It explores the future of the workers, the corporations and the society at large.
The primary objective however is in finding the future. Not just a future in general, but specific futures for the individuals under the care of policies that govern people movement. The focus is the future in the sense that it makes a prediction about where the future lies and then takes specific steps to make that future happen.
That’s where the subject of human migration comes in.
The globalized political and economic system creates illegality by displacing people and then denying the workers rights and equality as they have to do what they have to do in order to survive. Globalization forces people into migration into countries where the ideas of divide and rule have been codified as a “legal” justification for the injustices. Inequality therefore is re-created and re introduced by a global economic system.
In the realm of social reality – this social inequality creates a caste system, where one class of workers is pitted against the other for personal gain. Where when one side of the coin gets tainted, the other side shines brightly, putting the society at large in a conundrum.
This book examines the function of ‘social inequality’ in a modern world of high-tech guest workers and India’s increasing dependence on exporting people to the labor pool in the global North. This book is titled “Green Carrot – America’s Work Visa Crisis” in recognition of this reality.
While Indian workers serving with employers in the United States has been used as a case study, it aims to drive home a point – Should the human migration exports rest only on the economic needs or should they be more focused on the human rights of its workers?
Through the book an attempt is made to explore the politics of the debate over immigration and trade policies between India and the United States. It analyses the guest worker programs and recounts my own experiences as a guest worker and also the personal experiences of others involved.
The book examines closely the cultural factors associated with the brokerage of intellectual capital and rights to intellectual property – two distinct yet, vulnerable areas in the political debate on immigration reform. The book examines body shopping as a business model that promotes the brokerage of intellectual capital and ends with the need for innovation, bringing focus on generating intellectual property.
The book begins with looking at what it means to be caught in the caste system in India – where economic status is often considered as an easy alternative to migration. It further examines what it means to be an indentured guest worker in labor bondage with a foreign employer – how immigration status is used to keep people vulnerable, to criminalize them and punish them when they try to improve their conditions. The narrative travels to examine how the visa status is used to control the movement of its foreign employee and how the ‘brokerage of intellectual capital’ allows subjugation for personal gain and its consequences on family life.
The book traces back in history to explore America’s dependence on foreign labor and examines how the present day system of body shopping in fact creates an economic system that benefit from the changes causing displacement, and also benefits from the labor displacement produces, especially those on the foreign work visas. It traces the development of the employer lobby set up to win expansion of the work visa programs. How the immigration policies have all but been about low salaries for foreign workers, excluding the local workers from competing for jobs thus dividing the workforces
The book narrates my journey from the streets of Navi Mumbai where I lived as a homeless after my decade long stay in the United States and began my journey in the space of seeking rights for workers – those that were indentured and serving involuntarily; those beholden to their employers. The narrative progresses to convey my participation in generating awareness that lead to a few changes to the policy over the past decade. It details the journey from a whistleblower to documenting existence of fraud and abuse within the foreign worker community. It succinctly tries to detail the arrival of a visa reform bill to prevent fraud and abuse of foreign workers on guest worker visa programs. The narrative has also tried to bring attention to the democratic nature of judiciary in both United States as well as India.
Towards the end, an attempt is made to understand the globalization needs of nations that require changes to the trade policies, but these are treated in isolation. Human migration is a derivative of these trade policies but the laws are debated and designed individually. Technology increases human interaction and the resulting collapsing of borders increases human migration. Chapter 9 looks at the way forward by examining factors that align to these needs of a globalized society.
Finally the book suggests some alternatives, always the hardest part in the immigration debate. It concentrates on some of the most progressive ideas, which have been put forward by immigration and human rights activists. It advocates a need for an open transparent system – an open verified worker registry for India to align itself to the needs of employers globally.
What need will ‘Green Carrot’ fulfill that the audience is already aware of?
America’s Work Visa program, the H1-B visa, began in 1990. And Indian workers have consistently been the number one beneficiaries of this visa program. However, until the year 2004, there was an increasing abuse of workers rights and this was getting wide spread and soon accelerating nationwide. Unfortunately, even though there were provisions in the visa laws for whistle blowers; individuals of foreign origin on these work visas were afraid to stand up and report employer violations. There was insecurity and foreign workers working for corporations were simply unknown. The existence of these guest workers with special skills was unknown. There was no representation of the H1-B workers whatsoever. There was no mention of these guest workers in the media either. The foreign workers continued to be on the onslaught of abuse meted out to them by virtue of the dual employment related immigration policies.
As I began mention of the specific issues of those on the H1-B visas, the awareness inched little by little. Today the issues of foreigners being indentured on the H1-B visa in the United States, is a kitchen table discussion, and there is sufficient knowledge of these issues in both the countries. The work visa laws are bifurcated and the system is broken. There has been an increased pressure to the concerned governments to mend the policies that control people movement. India seeks to ratify the conventions to allow labor mobility, while America looks to control its borders to allow only the best and the brightest into the country.
What questions are being asked that “Green Carrot’ will answer? What does the book offer to the reader ?
As these concerns are debated and addressed individually by their respective nations; the core of the issues in the resistance of labor mobility, lies in our failure of understanding of how culture plays an important part. There is a conflict arising out of cultural alienation, of the issues that underline the debate on labor mobility. The debate that rests on issues that are tied to the brokerage of Intellectual Capital and Rights to Intellectual Property – two distinct yet vulnerable areas in the political debate on immigration.
The book examines closely these cultural factors that are associated with body shopping. The book examines the conflict areas rising out of body shopping that promotes the brokerage of knowledge and ends with the need for innovation, bringing focus on the need to creating intellectual property, identified as a source of creating employment. The book hints at the Indian education system that has predominantly shown a mismatch between the industry needs and inadequate classroom learning, putting an emphasis on employ ability rather than just employment.
The book is dedicated to the real life issues of workers that are affected by these visa policies – both, the American local resident workers as well as foreigners on guest worker visa programs. This book shows the reader how the immigration policies have created a caste system, that have in fact created two classes of workers – and how these have been used to divide and rule to manipulate profits for personal greed. Where the cultural factors leading to divide and rule have been used to legally justify the injustices.
The book examines what it means to be an indentured guest worker in labor bondage with a foreign employer – and how the immigration status is used to keep the foreign workers vulnerable, and to criminalize them and punish them when they try to improve their own conditions. The narrative travels to examine how the visa status is used to control the movement of its foreign employee and how the ‘brokerage of intellectual capital’ allows for subjugation for personal gain and its consequences on family life, eroding the foreign guest workers right to living The American Dream.
The book is an attempt to show that the present day system of body shopping, one that permits knowledge brokerage is one that creates an economic system that benefit from the changes caused by job displacement, as well as benefit from those of whom are on the foreign work visas- the products of such labor displacement.
During times of such conflict between workers, the book also traces the development of the employer lobby that was set up to win an expansion of the work visa programs. But the book argues how the immigration policies have all but been about low salaries for foreign workers, excluding the local workers from competing for jobs and binding foreign workers via extensive labor contracts – thus dividing the workforces, individuals that do similar work, sit side by side and speak the same language.
Via the book an attempt is made to understand the how culture determines trade policies. How even though the changes that are required to be made to the immigration and trade policies is an ongoing effort of nations seeking foreign labor, the laws related to human migration are debated and designed individually.
When technology increases human interaction, it results in the collapsing of borders which increases human migration and people movement. The book looks at the way forward by examining factors that are required to align to these needs of a globalized society. The book suggests some alternatives in the immigration debate by concentrating on some of the most progressive ideas, which have been put forward by immigration and human rights activists. It advocates the need for an open transparent system.