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Home / Questions / In an unusual move, a seriously ailing Dallas software company, i2 Technologies, resettled 209 In

In an unusual move, a seriously ailing Dallas software company, i2 Technologies, resettled 209 In

In an unusual move, a seriously ailing Dallas software company, i2 Technologies, resettled 209 Indian engineers, programmers, and managers in their South Asian homeland on a voluntary basis to help stem losses as it laid off thousands of other employees. A series of corporate crises led to the mass repatriation back to India beginning in 2001. Many returnees had worked in Texas, Massachusetts, and California for five to seven years on H-1B visas designed for temporary, highly skilled workers, although about 10 percent had acquired permanent residency green cards or U.S. citizenship. They found the company’s Move to India Program too good to turn down—even if it meant a pay cut of 50 percent or more. None was pressured by management to return, said Gunaranjan “Guna” Pemmaraju, a 30-year-old engineer, who returned home. The returnees, many graduates of India’s top technical universities, were confident of finding other U.S. jobs if i2 laid them off and were prepared to “change industries if need be,” he asserted. “When I left America, I actually kissed the ground,” Pemmaraju said. “It helped me grow as an individual, and it enriched my thought process.” Significantly, though, Pemmaraju says the quality of life in his middle-class Bangalore neighborhood is comparable—with a few minor downsides that he and his wife are willing to accept. Although their pay shrank in dollar terms, the repatriates are relatively better off in India. “If we were in the top 25 percent in the United States, we’re in the top 5 percent here,” said one repatriate. “We may not have 54-inch TV sets, but we have more of a sense of community and belonging here,” another added. Pemmaraju relies on DSL Internet access, fields morning calls from Dallas colleagues on a cell phone, and watches satellite TV while pedaling his new exercise bike. Instead of a Honda Accord, he drives a much smaller Suzuki Zen sedan. For i2, the wage and benefit savings are helping it edge toward profitability. The company says the savings have been substantial. At its peak, i2 employed 6,349 people, with about 800 in India. It has since scaled down to 2,500 workers, 1,100 of whom are based in Bangalore. Pemmaraju’s family expresses no regrets about returning, yet they retain fond memories of the United States, a country of “milk and honey”—not to mention seven-layer Taco Bell burritos and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Pemmaraju was tickled by a recent call to a fast-food restaurant in Bangalore. “A guy answered the phone saying, ‘Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. Would that be for delivery or carry out?’ he said. It’s just what they said in Arlington [Texas]!”

May 28 2020 View more View Less

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