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Donald Trump’s swadeshi moment can be a dampener for Indian IT

Donald John Trump’s inaugural speech as the 45th president of the United States on Friday was all about nationalism, to make “American great again”, nothing less than what Narendra Modi would call “swadeshi”.

business Updated: Jan 23, 2017 12:38 IST
Sunny Sen
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania walk the inaugural parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania walk the inaugural parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.(AFP)

Donald John Trump’s inaugural speech as the 45th president of the United States on Friday was all about nationalism, to make “America great again”, nothing less than what Narendra Modi would call “swadeshi”.

Hitting at businesses and the previous government, Trump in his trumpeting moment said that the “establishment protected itself” and not the people of the country. “Their victories have not been your victories... That all changes, starting right here, right now,” he said.

All this can be a dampener on the great Indian information technology (IT) industry, which is expected to generate $160 billion in 2016-17. That is more than the gross domestic product of Iraq with all its oil reserves.

Over the last three decades, low-cost man power and large number on computer engineers, attracted companies to outsource technology jobs to India. Throw in India’s English speaking population, it is only second to the US at 125 million.

Not only Indian IT companies such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro, large technology companies like General Electric and IBM expanded their base in India fast. They set large research facilities, built huge campuses and transferred low-end IT work to India. Eventually, as India’s technology prowess grew, these companies started using India for high-end automation and tech processes.

Even new generation companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have built centres for research. For example, Google built maps in India, Facebook is working on low-bandwidth products here, and Amazon is ramping up research.

But, Trump is not willing to part with his “great American dream” – after all he won the presidential elections against Hilary Clinton on the idea of nationalism. That is how Modi, too, won in 2014 – on the promise of creating more jobs, improving the country’s economy, and building core sectors such as manufacturing in India.

“America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams,” Trump, alongside his former supermodel wife Melania, addressed hundreds of thousands of people, from the west front of the Capitol, in raining Washington.

At 70, Trump is the US’ oldest president, but none of his predecessors has been a likely capitalist. Son of immigrants, Trump is three times married, built a conglomerate around real estate businesses, casinos and media. His personal life often became front page headlines of tabloids.

Not only India, Trump attacked the previous government for letting manufacturing jobs go to China, Taiwan and Korea.

Few former American presidents painted a picture so grim in inaugural speeches. He talked about impoverished cities where mothers and children are trapped, and “rusted-out factories are scattered like tombstones”, and the rising unemployment have forced people to take on drugs and commit crimes.

Trump is vocal, he always has been. “This American carnage,” he said should stop right away.

The carnage that Trump is referring to can upset the growing technology and manufacturing economy of India. America is already looking into new regulations of work visas, which allows Indians to go to America and work at lower cost than its citizens.