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Arkansas Senate race: Battle over outsourcing

Outsourcing to India has become a flashpoint in the Democratic Party’s primary for a US Senate seat in Bill Clinton’s home state of Arkansas.

world Updated: May 15, 2010 00:50 IST

Outsourcing to India has become a flashpoint in the Democratic Party’s primary for a US Senate seat in Bill Clinton’s home state of Arkansas.

There have a series of attacks on Arkansas Lt Governor Bill Halter who has posed a serious challenge to sitting Senator, Democrat Blanche Lincoln.

The attacks have focused on how Halter sent “US jobs to Bangalore, India.”

While some television ads and a mailer issued by a group called Americans for Job Security or AJS have been condemned by Lincoln, her campaign itself may be somewhat complicit with flyers of a similar nature being mailed out by the group, Friends of Blanche Lincoln. The AJS ad underscores how “economic insecurity” is a hot button issue in elections this year, but also underlines another truism for local races — the advertising can get inadvertently hilarious.

Take, for instance, one mailer that in English reads, “Thank you, Bill Halter, for sending US jobs to Bangalore, India.” The unfortunate Hindi translation of the ad said, Aap Bill lagaam shukr Bangalore, Bharat ko rozgaar bhejne ke liye.

Obviously, a not too effective online translation tool led to Halter being turned into lagaam (literally a harness). Google’s translation tool, for example, delivers this version: Dhanyavad, Bill lagaam Bangalore, Bharat me Amrika ke naukri bhejne ke liye.

But the Google tool does allow users to contribute a better translation while the AJS ad is for keeps. The AJS could not contacted for confirmation of which translation tool it used.

Of course, while the ad has served up some hilarity in a serious election season, there are many who don’t find it funny.

Sanjay Puri, Executive Director of the Indian-American lobbying group USINPAC, said that they are in touch with the leadership of the Democratic Party in this regard.

Apparently, Halter’s crime was that he sat on the board of directors of an company called WebMethods, which has operations in Arkansas and outsourced work to India.

Halter, though, appeared to be mining the controversy. A post of his official campaign website said that there should be “no room for these kind of attacks in our politics” while seeking donations to help him “fight back”.

‘Foreign IT migrants help US workers’ by ANI

A study has shown that if skilled foreign IT professionals were restricted from working in the US, it would actually affect American workers, as it would lead firms into hiring IT pros to work outside the US.

According to the Management Insights feature, the study, which relies on salary data of over 50,000 IT professionals, puts into doubt calls for more restrictive policies for workers on H-1B visas.

H-1B is a temporary work visa issued to employers allowing them to hire professionals in occupations that require a bachelor’s degree and highly specialised skills.

First Published: May 15, 2010 00:43 IST