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India questions deportation of Indian students from US

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Washington: India questioned the deportation of some students from India when they came to the US with valid student visas to study at two Silicon Valley institutions which have denied being “blacklisted.

“There is definitely a glitch within the US system”, sources said pointing out that the US consulate in Hyderabad issued F-1 student visas and they carried the requisite I-20 forms issued by the educational institutions certifying their admission.

The Indian Embassy here has taken up the matter with the State Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security. Their response is still awaited.

Sources also said that a couple of Indian consular officers who had gone to the San Francisco airport were not allowed to meet the Indian students who had been denied entry to the US and put back on flights to India.

On reports that some students had been denied entry because they had failed to satisfactorily answer immigration officers’ questions at the port of entry, sources said there could be one or two such cases, but wholesale deportation of students pointed to a problem in the US system itself.

The sources also pointed out that the 14 Indian students from India who were deported last week and 19 others not allowed to board their Air India flights to San Francisco had all sought admission to Silicon Valley University (SVU) in San Jose and Northwestern Polytechnic in Fremont.

The two schools, meanwhile, asserted that they had not been “blacklisted” and US Customs and Border Protection officers were just implementing stricter screening security measures, which are not specific to their students, but to all international students entering the US.

Advising all new and returning students to bring original documentation, SVU said, “there were rumours reported by the media in India stating that SVU is being targeted by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

This, it said, was “Due to the fact that there were some new SVU students being removed or deported back to India because they were not able to answer the questions adequately to the satisfaction of the inspectors at the port of entry.”

SVU said it did not “welcome those who intend to abuse their F-1 VISAs and have other intentions besides studying in our university.’

NPU president Peter Hsieh assured “students, families, and friends” that “my team and I are deeply concerned and doing our best to clear NPU’s name and fight for your rights.”

As “definitive proof that NPU is NOT blacklisted,” it provided “evidence of a sample of new students that continue to enter the US with F-1 visas with NPU as the designated school.”

“The samples show entry on the December 20, 21 and 22, which are all dates after the false information reported in the media in India,” it said.

Students flew on Emirates, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines, NPU said claiming “Most students had to go through secondary inspections, but a few did not (only 5 minutes of questioning).”

It had also demanded that Air India allow all NPU students to board and will contact any airline that causes such problems for our students.

It had also contacted US immigration officials and were seeking officials and media in India.

“We have learned that a small percentage of international students are being sent back to India, but only those that fail their immigration interviews,” NPU said.(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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India Urges China to Open Markets For Trade

“When people make a price comparison and want to move towards the cheapest goods, those are usually Chinese products.”

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india-china trade
Sampad Yadav, the owner of a shop carrying electrical goods in a market in Gurugram near New Delhi, says people are drawn to Chinese products such as LED lights because they are more competitively priced. VOA

Sampad Yadav, who sells electrical goods in a shop in the business hub of Gurugram on the outskirts of New Delhi, says Chinese goods such as LED lamps are popular with customers. “When people make a price comparison and want to move towards the cheapest goods, those are usually Chinese products.”

As in many other countries, Chinese products such as lamps, electronics, smartphones and engineering goods from the manufacturing giant have flooded Indian markets.

However, India has long fretted that areas in which it is strong such as generic drugs and Information Technology services, which make up some of its main exports to Western markets, remain shut out of China. That has made it difficult to bridge a ballooning trade deficit of about $50 billion between the two countries.

ALSO READ: China emerges as one of the fastest-growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India

But there is optimism this could change following a meeting this week between the commerce ministers of the two countries in New Delhi.

“The Chinese side have agreed to work on the issue, prepare a roadmap to bring the trade to balanced level over a period of time,” Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said after discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan.

Trade experts hope the growing tensions on trade issues between the United States and China will prompt Beijing to open up its markets more to Indian exports. “I think China is definitely under pressure now, looking into the kind of initiation which has happened against China,” says Ajay Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Exports Organization.

The meeting between the Indian and Chinese commerce ministers this week came amid efforts to de-escalate tensions between the Asian neighbors following a period of rocky ties and a tense 70-day face-off between their troops in the Himalayas last year.

india-china trade
Products such as lights and lamps sold in Indian shops are predominantly Chinese.Products such as lights and lamps sold in Indian shops are predominantly Chinese. VOA

Despite a long-lingering boundary dispute and an often-fraught diplomatic relationship, trade ties between the Asian giants have gained significant momentum and China is now India’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2017 topped $80 billion rising by more than 20 percent over the previous year.

But worryingly for New Delhi, the trade deficit remains high despite a marginal growth in Indian exports – they add up to about $16 billion versus Chinese imports into India of about $68 billion.

ALSO READ: India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Market access a key issue

India exports mainly raw materials like iron ore, copper and cotton yarn to China. “In whatever value-added exports where we are competitive, unfortunately, the market is not open for us,” says Sahai.

However, China has promised to give greater market access to Indian goods, particularly pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods such as rice, as well as service exports, according to the Indian commerce minister. “They have decided to work in a way that will address security issues from their side as well as introduce Indian companies to those who can buy these products in China,” says Prabhu.

New Delhi, which is trying to ramp up domestic manufacturing, is also urging China to manufacture more goods exported to India within the country.

india-china trade
Generic drugs produced by Indian pharmaceutical companies make medicines affordable, but India says that China does not provide market access to its generic drugs. VOA

ALSO READ: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in restive Balochistan

Whether the promised actions translate into concrete outcomes remains to be seen. But exporters are hopeful. Sahai points out that China has invited Indian traders to what is being billed as the country’s first importers fair to be held in Shanghai later this year – it is being showcased as a measure to further open up China’s market.

The positive tenor of talks between the two countries comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports valued at $60 billion.

New Delhi could also face U.S. ire on trade issues – although its exports to the United States are comparatively small, it has a high trade deficit in its favor and Washington has often complained of protectionist barriers in India. In February, Trump called out India for imposing higher duties on Harley-Davidson motorcycles than the U.S. does on Indian motorbikes.

Amid growing fears that global trade faces uncertain times, analysts have called on countries like India to focus on increasing trade within the region.

India and China also said they will strengthen cooperation in the World Trade Organization and other multilateral and regional frameworks to maintain their common interests. VOA