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Veteran Indian-American journalist and political lobbyist NARAYAN D. KESHAVAN died Thursday night (11-13-2003) in New York City. 

Keshavan or ("Kesh" as many people called him) was executive director of the Indian American Forum for Political Education and a long-time player in Indo-U.S. relations - with unique access at the highest levels of theU.S. and Indian governments. Despite leaving journalism (something I teased him about), he remained a journalist at heart. He was involved with SAJA from its earliest days 10 years ago. He moved comfortably between hisworlds in DC (where he lived), NYC and Delhi. His daily INDIAFILE e-mail postings were the best way to keep track of news in India.

Last night, he went on the Lou Dobbs show to vigorously defend the business outsourcing that's getting a lot of attention. After debating Dobbs for several minutes, here's how the live segment ended:

DOBBS: More than 350,000 American technology jobs have been outsourced to India and to other countries as well. My next guest says it would be ideal for those jobs to stay in this country. But he says outsourcing them can help some Americans keep their job.

Narayan Keshavan is the executive director of the Indian-American Forum

For Political Education and joins me now.

It's good to have you with us.


EDUCATION: It's pleasure to be with you.

DOBBS: It is counterintuitive to say that outsourcing U.S. jobs overseas, whether to India, to the Philippines, Ireland, that's somehow good for the

U.S. How is that?

KESHAVAN: Well, the name of the game is wealth creation.

Once wealth creation is interest process -- first of all, I don't agree with the notion that outsourcing is taking the job from our country to another country, especially to India or to a sister democracy. I personally believe that these jobs are not being done here properly. It's not economical to do it here, and that's why those jobs are moving to another place.

 DOBBS: Well, and I would take exception to that and say to you, the only reason they're going to India is because people in India, in most cases, are working for something like 80 percent to 90 percent less than their American counterpart and U.S. corporations are simply seeking out a cheaper labor pool. You certainly wouldn't resist that, would you?

KESHAVAN: Cost is one of the factors in any CEO's calculation of running businesses, Lou.

 DOBBS: Of late, it seems principal in their consideration.

 KESHAVAN: Well, they are answerable to their stakeholders. And, naturally -- it is not just some sweatshop that's being run in India, you know. There's Microsoft. There's Oracle. There's Sun Microsystems there, IBM there. DOBBS: Well, there's GE Capital, 15,000 people in Delhi. It goes on and

on. McKenzie has a full operation, as it is advising. Accenture has a full operation advising these clever CEOs, who we pay a great deal of money in this country, to show them how to lower their labor costs.


 KESHAVAN: You would concede that these CEOs are not fools. 


 DOBBS: Oh, I would say that they're not fools. I would say, in most cases, the boards of directors, who pay them egregiously high salaries and allow to export U.S. jobs, just on the basis of cost, they're the fools.

 KESHAVAN: I'm not here to defend outrageous salaries.




 DOBBS: What I'm saying to you is, I would not -- I love India. I love the Indian people. It's a remarkable culture and society.

When I say that this is idiotic on any basis, I'm saying -- I'm not

blaming India. I'm blaming the idiots here, who are without reference -- you talked about stakeholders. There's no more important stakeholder than the customer and the employee.

 KESHAVAN: First of all, let me finish my thought.

 DOBBS: Sure.

 KESHAVAN: That, once these jobs are gone there, that makes those companies viable over here, in the sense that they stay in business. The high-end jobs are retained here and the tax base is retained here. Otherwise, the whole company may have gone under and, thereby, the entire staff of the company would have been out of job. 

At least now, a portion of the job remains here and a portion of the job remains, say, in India, Ireland, or Israel, or wherever. And the process of wealth creation, which is where I began, continues. And I think that's a good thing. So I don't think we should look at outsourcing as just taking job from one place to another. That is what is my argument. Now...

 DOBBS: But that's precisely what's going on, isn't it? We are watching, in this instance, and principally with India, high-value jobs, manufacturing jobs, that are being outsourced. And we're now talking about high-value technology jobs primarily. We have programmers in this country, many of them Indian-Americans, who are out of work because these jobs are outsourced.

 KESHAVAN: I know a few.

 DOBBS: Precisely my point.


 DOBBS: What is the sense of the United States giving up its middle class to outsource these jobs? I just don't quite -- if one has sort of a global view of the world that suggests that individual national interests don't matter, I can perhaps get there. But, as an American citizen, I can't.

KESHAVAN: Yes, I can understand the sad stories that I have read, including in my own community over here.

 DOBBS: Sure.

 KESHAVAN: But the fact of the matter is, the entire trade situation is -- and you are the ones who have been talking about free trade all over the globe, open up your market, and blah, blah, blah, liberalize your trade, match up to the standards of us.

 DOBBS: And it's worked pretty well for India, hasn't it?


 KESHAVAN: It's worked pretty well for India. And now you might even say, use the word, it's biting up in the


 DOBBS: Exactly. We're running a significant deficit with India.

 KESHAVAN: That's the reality of today. And that's the challenge. But, Lou, we have to look at it this way. The jobs that are going there are, No. 1, keeping the companies here viable, second, creating wealth.


 DOBBS: You're not suggesting that IBM, General Electric, McKenzie, Dell Computer, that these companies would not be viable if they weren't outsourcing those jobs.

 KESHAVAN: Much of their operations over here are not viable. Otherwise,

they would not have brought it from here, because the CEOs also know the backlash of politics in this country. So I think you should talk to them.They'll give you much better reasons.

 DOBBS: I do. I assure you I do.

 KESHAVAN: I know you must, Lou.

 DOBBS: And when I ask them, the answer is always the same, those who are honest and straightforward. The reason is because Indian labor is cheaper than U.S. labor.


 DOBBS: And there seems to be a disassociation on the part of many of those people between the fact that an employee in this country is also a consumer and the consumption part of our economy is two- thirds of this economy.

 KESHAVAN: No, that -- I agree with you that the labor in India is cheaper than this country. But the brains are as smart, if not smarter, in high technology there. The intellectual capital of India is enormous. Their talent, their skills, their work ethic is


 KESHAVAN: ... in the world.

 DOBBS: Absolutely, and wonderful entrepreneurs, wonderful mercantilists.



 Look, if these guys hadn't come to this country, the Indian- Americans, to Silicon Valley, you wouldn't be having Hotmail to use. I'm sure you use that. I use it. You wouldn't be having Pentium chip here. That was

designed by an Indian-American. You wouldn't probably see such a veryprosperous Microsoft, minus the Indian-Americans who work


 DOBBS: Now you're going to get a lot of people upset, because some people might not like to see Microsoft quite as prosperous. But we'll have to put that up against the Indian fellow at Sun, against the Indian fellow at Intel, against -- but, anyway, the point is, those jobs weren't outsourced. That was talent that came to this country to work. And it's worked very well for all of us.

 I hope you'll come back soon as we discuss this, because this issue, as you know, is becoming -- moving to the forefront.

 KESHAVAN: It's going to be a hot political potato this election season.

 DOBBS: Right.

 KESHAVAN: Any time you want me, I'm available.

 DOBBS: We will want to talk often. Thank you.

 KESHAVAN: Thank you, Lou.

 DOBBS: Thank you.