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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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India minister Jaishankar Addresses human rights at UN

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Jaishankar Addresses Human Rights At UN | Diya TV News

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Human rights can’t be protected without addressing the threat of terrorism. That’s the message India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar delivered the UN’s Human Rights Council, emphasizing human rights cannot be protected without addressing terrorism, which he called as “one of the gravest threats to humankind.” Last month, India proposed an 8-point plan at the UN to tackle terrorism.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has been nominated by President Biden to be Surgeon General for the second time, made in excess of $2 million on COVID-19 related consultations and speeches according to financial disclosures. Carnival cruise lines, Airbnb and the NBA were among the dozens of organizations who retained Murthy for his expertise.

Two Indian Americans are suing Subway, the sandwich chain, claiming there is no tuna in their tuna meals. Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin claim Subway falsely promotes its tuna salad sandwiches as composed of wild tuna, when it actually has no tuna or any other fish in it.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Kiran Ahuja nominated to office of personnel management

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Kiran Ahuja Nominated To Office Of Personnel Management | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Biden nominated Kiran Ahuja to lead the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that oversees the government’s civilian workforce. Ahuja worked in the Obama White House as executive director of the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and later became chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management.

India has 1.3 billion people, 4 times the population of the US. Yet in terms of COVID-19 deaths, India has handled the pandemic far better according to new data. 500,000 Americans have died over the last year versus 150,000 Indians. Both nations are now in a full court press to get their respective populations immunized.

Golf superstar Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car crash with major damage to his vehicle. No one else was involved in the crash. Woods underwent surgery after suffering “multiple leg injuries,” according to his agent. But injuries are not life-threatening.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Report: Nikki Haley Eyeing 2024 Presidential Campaign

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Report: Nikki Haley Eyeing 2024 Presidential Campaign | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — It’s no surprise to political observers, but an extensive report from Politico says former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is laying the groundwork to run for President in 2024. In recent weeks, Haley has distanced herself from former President Trump over the storming of the US Capitol. So it remains to be seen whether his supporters will look to her to guide the GOP leadership in the next political cycle.

Republican Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney announced they intend to vote against Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget, another challenge to confirming of Biden’s pick for budget director. The White House reaffirmed its support for Tanden, adding that it will continue to “work toward her nomination.” West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced he will also vote against Tanden’s selection for OMB.

The scale of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be staggering, with the death toll now reaching 500,000 Americans. While there should be enough vaccines to cover the nation in the weeks to come, the loss of life is expected to continue to grow in the weeks ahead.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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