Israeli high-tech pros turn to India

Tuesday, 23 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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JERUSALEM: Disaffected by growing US protectionism, Israeli high-tech firms are increasingly posting their corporate managers to Indian centres, thus building large pools of high quality skilled professionals at significant cost savings.

"Close to 50 major Israeli companies have established production, manufacturing and R&D outsourcing headquarters in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad," says Zvi Kan Tor, director of Israel's largest law firm which specialises in procuring work licences for corporate executives relocated overseas for three months or longer.

"About half these companies trade on the Nasdaq and between them they post some 200 senior management experts to India each year," he said.

The number of high-tech foreign professionals in India in 2004 totalled some 45,000.

The Israeli trend is part of a world pattern since the 9/11 terrorist attacks as American authorities refrain from issuing entry visas to foreign professionals of companies competing with the local American industry.

"Complaints from senior and middle level Israeli executives who have crossed swords with American immigration authorities and are facing expulsion are almost a daily phenomenon," says Kan Tor.

"By comparison, Indian work permits are less complicated to obtain. Indian host companies though insist that licences be properly cleared with government authorities before foreign personnel arrive to avoid unpleasant embarrassment and discrimination in the future. Israeli companies are increasingly complying with this request."

With Indian salaries about a third of those paid to Israelis or Americans, both sides benefit from the partnership.

"The Israeli parent company benefits in innovation from intellectual cross-fertilization and lower demands for trained manpower at home keeps a lid on the industry bubble from overheating and exploding as it did in the late 1990s," Kan Tor told IANS.

Similarly, Indian professionals increasingly prefer to work for foreign companies at home to avoid the social and cultural hardships of family separation through relocation overseas, Kan Tor added.

Experience also shows that Israeli professionals adjust faster and better to foreign environments than their European or American peers.

Kan Tor attributed this to Israel's evolving immigrant multicultural society where diverse languages and the absence of universal norms of behaviour prepares them for adapting to local cultures and societies different from their own.

He also noted that in the foreseeable future Indian high-tech manpower would retain its head start over China's rapidly developing industrial muscle. Chinese professionals are paid an average annual salary of $2,000, compared to average Indian salaries at $7,000 per annum.

However, India's 600,000 computer science graduates entering the market each year are fully English literate. Their Chinese counterparts are not and so Chinese companies must hire English interpreters to interface with foreign professionals.

Source: IANS
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