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India ranked 123rd in Economy freedom score

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Washington: India ranked 123rd in 2016 Index of Economic Freedom by conservative US think tank Heritage Foundation on Monday, with an improvement of 1.6 points in its overall score.

Though still rated as “mostly unfree”, India with a score of 56.2 out of 100 was among 32 countries which achieved their highest economic freedom scores ever in the 2016 Index.

India scored its best scores on government spending (78.1), fiscal freedom (77.1), monetary freedom (72.8) and trade freedom (71.0).

But on freedom from corruption India scored 38, while it was rated 40 on financial freedom, 35 on investment freedom and 55 on property rights.

With the exception of India, progress among the other BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa has stalled, according to the index which analyzes economic policy developments related to economic freedom in 186 economies.

Russia plunged 10 places in the rankings to 153rd, with its score deteriorating by 1.5 points. The rankings of South Africa, Brazil, and China declined to 80th, 122nd, and 144th, respectively.

According to the Index which rates countries as “free” (scores above 80), “mostly free” (70-80), “moderately free” (60-70), “mostly unfree” (50-60) and “repressed” (below 50), global economic freedom has advanced for the fourth year in a row.

The US continues to be mired in the ranks of the “mostly free,” the second-tier economic freedom category into which the US dropped in 2010.

Worse, with scores in labour freedom, business freedom, and fiscal freedom notably declining, the economic freedom of the US plunged 0.8 point to 75.4, matching its lowest score ever

As many as 97 countries, the majority of which are less developed, gained greater economic freedom over the past year.

The global average economic freedom score of 60.7 is the highest recorded in the 22-year history of the Index.

Of the 178 economies ranked in the 2016 Index, only five (Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia) earned the designation of “free” with scores above 80.

Others in the top ten but rated “mostly free” were Canada, Chile, Ireland, Estonia and United Kingdom.

As many as 97 countries, the majority of which are less developed, gained greater economic freedom over the past year.

Declining economic freedom was reported in 74 countries, including 19 advanced economies such as the United States, Japan, and Sweden.(IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)