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UK mulls cap on skilled migrants, Punjabis wary

Monday, 08 June 2015

CHANDIGARH: With the UK government recently announcing to put a cap on the skilled migrants, fate of many Indians, especially Punjabis, might hang in balance.

No sooner had the UK government sworn into power with the much written about support from Indian diaspora came the announcement that prime minister David Cameron has pledged to put a cap on the number of non-EU skilled migrants at 20,000 per year. This means besides people from nationalities such as American and African, he wants to show the exit door to thousands of Indians, a large number of them Punjabis, who migrate to the UK every year.

The UK government has announced to reduce net migration to less than 1 lakh annually as promised in the last two election manifestos of the conservative party. According to the UK's Office for National Statistics, more than 30,000 Indians migrate to the UK every year. Now, the UK plans to have a task force which will work towards realizing Cameron's pledge to lower the number of skilled workers from outside of the EU.

 It has already left the Indian diaspora in a spot. "The current government in my opinion does not fully value the relationship between India and the UK. The announcement about cutting down on the number of skilled migrants that will be allowed to immigrate to the UK will damage relations and endanger our fragile economic recovery," Labour MP from Southall, Virendra Sharma said while talking to TOI.

Shakti Thakur, who hails from Himachal Pradesh and works with a law firm in Leeds, understands the sentiments. "This has been one of the top issues in the recent elections. There has been a lot of concern about the current inflow of people in this country and with the economic situation not that great, it's all the more relevant as there is unhappiness over people from outside the country taking up jobs and stuff," he said.

However, Punjabi origin Dr Shinder S. Thandi, principal lecturer in economics at Coventry University in the UK, feels there is no reason to worry. "I think at the moment there are just noises 'knee-jerk reactions' no definite plans about reducing number of skilled workers from outside Europe. Theresa May has repeated the same many times in the last couple of years but the numbers have not been affected. Whatever plans they put in it will not work!"

He adds: "My feeling is that since the UK is desperate for highly-skilled immigrants, the policy may become a little more strategic. They may have a cap on number of low wage nurses coming from India but not doctors and scientists. For example, they are talking about jobs for another 5,000 doctors in the National Health Service. Most of them will come from outside. So, it may be easy to reduce certain types - for example Indian students were an easy target but it may self-defeating as Universities are furious."

Source: TNN

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