India Uncut

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On immigration

PTI reports:
India has cautioned Britain that it would be the ‘loser’ if its immigration laws were not liberalised to allow freer movement of workers from the sub-continent nation.

"Short of permanent immigration, we are asking for freer movement of personnel who can render services abroad," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told The Times.
I couldn't agree more. But what, I wonder, does Mr Chidambaram feel about immigration into India from countries like, say, Bangladesh? Do the same principles apply?

Update (February 1) : Vivek Kumar writes in:
Though the PTI article doesn't mention it, the comments relate to Mode 4 of GATS which has to do with temporary movement of skilled workers across borders to provide services. While this issue itself is quite complicated, it has no relation to the immigration into India from neighbouring countries. India has a very liberal Visa regime for Employment Visa and it can be renewed without the applicant having to go back to his/her home country.
I wrote back to Vivek about how I support immigration in general, and some interesting points came up in our discussion. Consider that our visa policy is against immigration of unskilled labour. Consider also our minimum-wage laws. They actually provide an added incentive to illegal immigration, as it is easy to employ illegal immigrants at ultra-low wages because they have no rights anyway. "If the market were to determine wages," writes Vivek, "the demand for illegal immigrants would be a lot less because there would be plenty of Indians available to work at those market wages."

I'm against the minimum wage in any case, as it harms the poor people it is intended to protect. (Milton Friedman expresses it superbly here.) And I'm also in favour of a liberal visa policy, even for unskilled labour. But that's a piece for another day.
amit varma, 2:22 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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