From: Rob Builder [Email him]
Thanks for the great letter and one that calls it as it is. This is one that has been important to me as I was indirectly impacted by the importation of Indian IT workers.
In 2000, I was working as a CAD operator in the Architectural Engineering industry. I was in my late 40s and having never completed my engineering degree hoped that jumping into IT I might bump my earning enough to go back to college. I had been running Linux on my own PC for several years and preferred it over Windows even though I was working in the Windows environment. I enrolled in a Unix/C certification course not knowing that the Indian tsunami was just beginning. One pre-interview was all that I managed.
It was around that time an Indian, who was a Christian began attending my church and thanks to him, not intentionally mind you, I learned a new term, "H-1B Visa."
I moved to a civil engineering consulting firm in early 2001, from the electrical engineering consulting firm I was working at, only to lose my job in early 2002 due to the economy. There are some interesting side notes to this.
The electrical firm I had been at was one of four consulting firms under an umbrella; three technical and one electrical. There were legitimate reasons for this arrangement allowing us to work together or independently.
One firm was Indian owned and a personal anecdote regarding the owner may be of interest.
I was working over time doing the "white boxes" in a 1.5 million square foot mall project we were working on at the time. The engineers in the office worked the "anchors," but the "white boxes" were simple enough that I could do them, about 130. One evening this Indian entered our suite and began to lay out his plans.
He told me, "I will go back to my village and teach them CAD and design. Then I will act as a general contractor to build the projects, receiving CAD drawings and such via the Internet." As a Professional Engineer he could stamp the drawings. The profit is in the general contracting and labor costs of engineering would be minimal.
Of course, he is considered a "minority" and receives the advantage of being one. I called Charlie Rangel’s and John Conyers' offices, but found only deaf ears. (I was told by one of my former bosses that this guy had done as he said, but had some problems in his projects. I suppose he stamped some bad drawings?)
This Indian PM is all too reminiscent of Vicente Fox when he campaigned in Chicago. Let me add something to this. Ravi Zacharias, who is an Indian Evangelical Christian, has said that Indians, who are Hindus, are very much tied to their culture and nation.
I think my experience shows that Indians will never see this nation as a nation to lift up. How much do they earn here and how much goes home? My Indian friend taught me, unintentionally, that his first concern is India and he is not even a Hindu
As for me I never managed to land another CAD job and wound up with a handy man job for less than what I made in the last tool shop I worked in before a CAD opportunity presented itself in 1995. I was making $7/hr.
See previous letters from the same reader.