A 41-year-old engineer from Bengaluru, Hemanth Kappanna, was forced to return to India from the United States after being fired by General Motors in February. But this may not be just another layoff that many Indians in the US are currently facing. Kappanna believes that GM may not be happy with his role in exposing the Volkswagen emissions scandal that rocked the German carmaker and cost it about $33 billion.
"Certainly they could have seen me as biased. I can't really say," Kappanna told the New York Times. GM has, however, made it clear that Kappanna's dismissal "was not related to any emissions compliance concerns or related issues," the report added.
Kappanna along with two other engineering students had exposed Volkswagen's diesel-rigging scandal in 2013. They were conducting research after obtaining a grant from the International Council on Clean Transportation. The council wanted to check whether the German cars in the US were abiding by the regulations on emissions.
The three students of West Virginia University helped the varsity receive a grant of $70,000. Although the research conducted by Kappanna and the fellow students did not directly blame Volkswagen, it did warn the regulatory authorities of some crime.
Earlier this year, Kappanna was given an extension of two months' stay in the US under his work visa and some compensation. But he failed to fetch a job even after staying there for 17 years.
GM has said that the layoff was part of a broader plan in which over 4,000 employees have been fired so far. The firm also gave a one-way ticket to Kappanna to travel to his hometown and said that his nationality had nothing do with his employment being severed.