Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

This was an interesting question that came from an online forum recently. The person adds: “The reason for question is that I have seen some third party individuals claiming that “their” company has setting with the consular officers and hence higher acceptance rate etc.”

Here is the response from our editor, Mohan

Are US State department and embassy officials corruptible? Sadly, yes they too are humans as these news articles indicate [USA Today: State Department official indicted on bribery charge | ABC News: Embassy Officer Admits Taking $3M in Bribes for Visas ]

With this backdrop, here is the fact: These cases of corruption are too few and far between to be statistically relevant. The U.S immigration system and State Department have sufficient checks-and-balances to quickly identify bad-apples and make sure justice prevails.

Think; if there were allegations of ‘big Indian companies’ bribing US consular officers, Wouldn’t Mr. Trump have already tweeted about it?

Here is how the process works at top companies that apply for H1 visas – e.g Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Accenture, IBM etc

  • These companies have extremely strong ‘visa departments’ with efficient processes and people. The visa department representatives work with line managers and applicants to ensure the right paperwork is submitted accurately, with the right references, supporting letters, credentials etc.
  • The visa-departments and their consultants continually seek the latest updates on visa processing from embassies and consulates, and are quick to update their processes when new requirements are identified.
  • Visa departments also have a closed-loop with candidates to ensure they learn from success, and a few rejections.
  • Visa departments also work with line managers to plan ‘demand’ for resources, especially timed around the ‘H1 Visa’ lottery filing deadlines. These steps ensure an extremely low rate of rejection of visas (compared to rest of the applicant pool).

Hard, grunt work at a large scale is the secret of success, and not ‘corruption’ or ‘bribery’

How do I know? I experienced the efficiencies of Visa Department @Infosys many years ago.


Last week we also blogged about “Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted”

‘Badass’ Vanity fair picture: Is this an attempt by @Deccn_Chronicle to bring ‘Global values’ to India?

Today’s Deccan Chronicle has a color picture of the visibly pregnant and naked Serena Williams showing her bump.

Sareena_DeccanChronicle1

Today’s Deccan Chronicle  has a color picture of the visibly pregnant and naked Serena Williams showing her bump. This appears on the cover page of the newspaper that kids, their parents and grandparents are bound to ogle at!

Is this an attempt to bring ‘Global values’ to India?


Opportunity for Visiting NRI scientists to work in Indian institutes

India’s Central Government is all set to launch a first-of-its-kind programme next month wherein foreign and Non Resident Indian (NRI) scientists can work in the country’s scientific institutions for a period of one to three months.

Those of us (including GaramChai.com editor) who attended the “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in 2017” recall the announcement on Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA)

Hon’ble Prime Minister during the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention at Bengaluru on 8th January 2017 has announced the launching of VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme by the Department of Science and Technology which enables NRIs and overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India. The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department will implement the Scheme.

VAJRA faculty will undertake research in S&T priority areas of nation wherein the capability and capacity are needed to be developed. The VAJRA faculty will engage in collaborative research in public funded institutions.

The residency period of the VAJRA Faculty in India would be for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 3 months a year.

The VAJRA Faculty is provided a lump-sum amount of US$ 15000 in the first month of residency in a year and US$ 10000 p.m. in the other two months to cover their travel and honorarium. While no separate support is provided for e.g. accommodation, medical / personal insurance etc. the host institute may consider providing additional support.

A few key points about the program

  • VAJRA initiative has been welcomed by leading Indian institutes
  • Foreign researchers see the VAJRA initiative as a gateway to meaningful research in an environment full of opportunity
  • The scientists under the VAJRA programme would draw a salary of USD 15,000 in the first month and USD 10,000 each in the remaining months.
  • The number of scientists under the programme has been capped at 1,000.
  • The government currently runs a programme under ‘Ramanujan Fellowship’. However, it is aimed at attracting Indian students and doctors working abroad. The period of the fellowship is for five years.

Link to the Department of Science and Technology announcement 

For more details, log on to http://www.vajra-india.in/

It’s so hot in India, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!

So hot that you could fry an egg on a sidewalk

We have all probably heard the saying “It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Turns out you could do just that if you happen to be in Titlagarh, Odihsa in India  where tempratures have touched a scorching 45.5 degree Celsius, second only to 45.7.

 

The video has been retweeted over 500 times with many expressing disbelief.

Q&A from Library of Congress:

Is it possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk if it’s hot enough?

Answer:  Yes, theoretically. But it doesn’t actually get hot enough.  “This question comes from the saying “It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” How many kids, hearing it, actually try? Most likely they end up with a mess resembling scrambled eggs more than one sunny-side up. So what’s the problem?”

58-Year-Old Indian Man Detained At Atlanta Airport By US Immigration, Dies In Custody

A 58-year-old Indian man died on Tuesday in the custody of US immigration officials at a hospital in Atlanta. Atul Kumar Babubhai Patel was detained last week for allegedly not possessing necessary immigration documents while entering the country. Mr Patel arrived at the Atlanta airport on May 10 on a flight from Ecuador.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement took Mr Patel to custody at the Atlanta City Detention Center for two days. Officials said the preliminary cause of his death is congestive heart failure.

The Immigration department, in a statement, said the US Customs and Border Protection denied Mr Patel entry into the country as he did not possess the necessary immigration documents. He was then transferred to the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At the Atlanta City Detention Center, Mr Patel received an initial medical screening and was found to have high blood pressure and diabetes.

On Saturday, a nurse checking Mr Patel’s blood sugar noticed he had a breathing problem following which he was shifted to a hospital where he passed away.

The immigration department said it is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is “undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of the incident, as it does in all such cases”.

The agency has informed the Indian consular representatives who informed Mr Patel’s family about his death.

The agency said that deaths in its custody are “exceedingly rare” and occur at a fraction of the rate of the US detained population as a whole.  (With inputs from PTI)


From the editor – Most of the news accounts highlight the death of Mr. Patel. However, there is no word on the reason for his travel from Ecuador to Atlanta.

Other media accounts of this incident

Summer camps for kids in India: Keeping young minds engaged

Kids around the world eagerly look forward to Summer Vacations. However, after a few weeks of fun-and-frolic, the dog days of summer begin to feel like they are stretching on. Parents look for avenues to keep their kids engaged and learning, giving rise to the cottage industry of Summer Camps.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a Summer Camp as “a camp providing recreational and athletic facilities for children during the summer vacation period.”

Summer Camps in Urban India

Summer camps in Bangalore and other cities in urban India have taken off in a big way. Little Vijay, our 7-year-old, finished his ‘final exams’ at a School in Bangalore by mid-March and my wife and I were wondering how to keep him busy and engaged during April and May.

Suja, my wife saw banners advertising a creative summer camp at Rangabharana Kala Kendra, an art and cultural center in Sanjay Nagar neighborhood, about a kilometer from where we live. She called up the folks at Rangabharana and inquired about the month-long program that would include arts and crafts including “Acting, Art, Dance, Film, Music, Performing Arts, handicrafts, paper craft etc.” The fee for the program at Rupees 3,500 sounded reasonable and our expectations of the program were tempered, and we didn’t expect much other than keeping our frisky youngster busy and engaged.

Summer Camp at Rangabharana Kalakendra 2017

After his exam, we went on a weeklong trip to visit my in-laws in Delhi and by the end of March, Vijay was ready for his first Indian-summer-camp experience.  He agreed to attend the summer camp with a bit of trepidation since none of his friends from school or neighborhood would be there.

After Day-1 at the camp when Vijay came back excited to tell us about the events of the day, Suja and I  realized sending him to Rangabharana was a wise move. As the month wore on, he continued to share his creative activities, crafts with a twinkle in his eye.

Kids performing in Cultural function at on the last day of “Summer Camp”

A few Arts and Crafts made by Vijay during the month

Rangabharana Art

Rangabharana Kalakendra is situated at Sanjay Nagar, Bangalore. Classes in dance are provided by this institute. The minimum age to get admission to Rangabharana Kalakendra is 5. One of the most prominent facilities available at this institute is the availability of individual classes.

Address: CA-5, 1st Main Road, 3rd Cross, KEB Layout, R.M.V. Extension 2nd Stage Bangalore

NRI in News: AT&T’s High Speed-Network is Helping Suman Kanuganti’s Smart Glasses Change the World

Imagine having just arrived at a busy airport and having to navigate to baggage claim, all the while having your eyes closed. Now imagine having to choose your bag out of hundreds of cases of luggage. This was the scenario that Aira’s Co-founder and CEO, Suman Kanuganti, gave at a 2016 global technology conference. This task, which we are casually able to do, is made exponentially difficult for the blind and visually impaired who make up more than 22 million of the U.S. population.

To help those faced with visibility challenges every day, Suman Kanuganti and his team created Aira, a live-time navigational service company that leverages wearable devices, human assisted AI, and widespread bandwidth. Aira was developed within AT&T Foundry for Connected Health, a workshop that fosters emerging Internet of Things (IoT) companies. Here, Suman was able to work closely with AT&T for nine months before showcasing Aira at CES 2017.

Aira utilizes innovative smart glasses technology, along with a dedicated team of certified agents, to guide the users’ around their surroundings while AT&T Dynamic Traffic Management gives Aira agents prioritized connectivity. The user taps on the glasses to connect to an agent who offers assistance. Using a video camera, the agents can “see” from the wearer’s perspective in near real-time and communicate back to the wearer. This way, Aira is able to help, not just in navigation, but also for various circumstances that require visionary aid. Suman’s goal is to expand on these services and develop better software to help those with dementia or autism.

About Suman Kanuganti

Suman holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Finance, but more importantly, Suman was able to cultivate his vision from his roots, pulling from his Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Kakatiya University, India. His learnings as well as more than 10 years of expertise in leadership and tech has helped develop Aira into fruition, successfully enabling many to navigate independently and even allowing a visually impaired runner, Erich Manser, to finish this year’s Boston Marathon 2017. Beyond the marathon, Erich stated that Aira is helpful for every-day tasks, from picking out a special-occasion card to navigating through populated airports.