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Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calls H1B & L-1 visa fee hike discriminatory, says it targets Indian IT companies

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley has expressed concern over the hike in the U.S. visa fee, calling it “discriminatory,” and saying it unfairly targets Indian IT professionals.

During a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, Jaitley called for a quicker resolution to Totalization Agreement which would benefit Indians working in America. While addressing his concerns surrounding the visa program, he spoke about “India’s concern over the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee, which is discriminatory and in effect is largely targeted at Indian IT companies.”

Last year, congress imposed a special fee of up to $4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas — two of the most popular among Indian engineers — to fund a 9/11 healthcare Act and biometric tracking system. While agreeing on the terms of the $1.1 trillion spending bill, congressional leaders decided to impose the special fees on H-1B and L-1 visas.

According to industry estimates, Indian professionals contributed more than $25 billion to U.S. social security in the past decade, without being to retrieve their contributions. Jaitley’s calling for a solution to the Totalization Agreement — an agreement the U.S. enters into with several nations for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes — would fix this issue.

Under Jaitley’s proposal, professionals from both countries would be exempt from social security taxes while working for a short period of time in the other’s country. The two countries are also engaged in negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty to protect investments.

The finance minister also emphasized the importance of sustaining engagement and fostering further growth in trade and investments between the two countries as key elements, saying India looks forward to strengthening and deepening this economic engagement. Jaitley is currently traveling through Washington D.C. to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other sessions.

Traveling with him are RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, and Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and other officials.

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Exclusive: Judges Srinivasan, Rao kickoff SABA virtual conference

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — Diya TV is home to the South Asian Bar Association virtual conference this weekend, which got kicked off by perhaps the two most powerful Indian American lawyers in the nation: Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan & Circuit Judge Neomi Rao, both of whom serve in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful court in the nation to only the Supreme Court. We’ll update you on their conversation and preview this weekend’s virtual gala featuring Stacy Abrams, Preet Bharara, Vanita Gupta, Ajit Pai and many others.

Meanwhile, Judges Srinivasan and Rao may get another Indian American colleague, as President Trump nominated Vijay Shanker to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Democratic Party announced they will be conducting their convention virtually from Milwaukee.

Indian American Jeremy Cooney is leading in the race for New York State’s 56th Senate District, with absentee ballots still to be factored in.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Satellite images show larger Chinese presence at Indian border

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LADAKH, India (Diya TV)  — While the ongoing fracas between India and China has not led to all-out war yet, satellite images indicate China is sending a larger group of troops and building infrastructure in Galwan Valley, site of that vicious clash that killed 20 Indian troops, and a reported 43 Chinese soldiers. It was the first loss of life in battle for the Chinese in more than 40 years. U.S. intelligence decreed China instigated the battle and India says China has been staffing up in the area since May. Following the release of the satellite images, China says India is to blame.

The U.S. is regressing in its battle against COVID-19, setting a new single day record for coronavirus cases at more than 37,000. The virus has infected nearly 10 million people globally, a quarter of that total in the U.S. The death toll now stands at 125,000 in the United States, with Florida, Texas, Arizona and California seeing major increases.

Pakistani-American Qasim Rashid advanced in the Democratic primary in Virginia’s First Congressional District. ​He’ll take on longtime incumbent Republican Congressman Robert Wittman in the fall.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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As critics fume, Modi says India was not breached by China

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NEW DELHI (Diya TV)  — During an all-party political leaders meeting, Indian Prime Minister Modi told the group China did not breach Indian territory in Ladakh, nor was any Indian Army border post captured. Modi emphasized India will protect Galwan Valley, the region where the clash killing 20 Indian soldiers and a reported 43 Chinese soldiers took place. But Modi’s critics say the situation was an intelligence failure and many want Modi to strike back with force. Meanwhile, in a statement, the Chinese Government pinned the conflict on India and is laying claim to the entire valley region.

India was elected as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council for a 2-year term starting next year, receiving 184 out of 192 valid votes.

And in a wild Friday night surprise, the Justice Department said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York would be stepping down, to be replaced by Jay Clayton, the current Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. But in a statement, Berman said he’s not leaving until Congress confirms someone & his investigations, including into folks allied with President Trump, will continue.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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