When Elvis sings “I’m just a hunk, a hunk of burnin’ love,” I’m ready to sign up for U.S. citizenship right then and there. Only a country of genius could produce that kind of art. Nevertheless, America needs to get out more. Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist , has recently discovered that the world is flat, that Indians are smart, and that other countries have workers and telecommunications infrastructures as sophisticated as the homeland’s. Perhaps we foreigners can even produce glib essays for a tenth of Friedman’s wages (as long as you pay us in Euros).
Eight years ago I shared H1-b visa gripes with Indian engineers in Times Square, while we worked to fix bugs with the Hyderabad colleagues who lived twelve hours in the future. The older IIT(Indian Institute of Technology) engineers, who had gone to graduate school in the US, acted as cultural brokers for the delegations that went back and forth between Hyderabad and Broadway. We could have told Friedman what was coming, if we’d been at the right cocktail parties.
Gokul, my colleague and running partner then, went on to MIT graduate school and now runs Google’s AdSense program. We’re neighbors again, in a region where fully a third of start-ups were founded by immigrants, including Google. Eight years on, at a time when USCIS(United States Citizenship and Immigration “Service”) has made it much harder to come here, we could now do just fine or better where we came from. The next generation of Gokuls can start their empires at home, and that’s why the US Ambassador to Ireland has had to tour the universities to beg Irish students to take up summer visas to visit the US. They’re not interested.