Regional Politics over Stranded Migrant Workers in GCC Countries

May 13, 2020 12:10 PM

The apathy shown by the center and state government over the hapless migrant workers in GCC countries is pathetic. I wonder where the jingoism and nationalism vanish when there is any issue related to the migrant workers in the Arabian Gulf. It is indeed shocking how things have changed in the last three decades. Thirty years ago the famous airlift from Kuwait after the 1990 invasion was efficient and quick. What are we lacking today? The answer is political will. The foreign minister IK Gujral played a pivotal role in rescuing 1, 70,000 Indians stranded in Kuwait by negotiating with Iraq. It was a phenomenal escape and also a feather in the cap for Air India which holds a Guinness Book of World Record for the highest number of evacuation by any airlines.

Let’s refrain from making it a political issue and understand the plight of the migrant laborers working in the Gulf. Arabian Gulf is not a bed of roses and the people work extremely hard to make money. They also have an extra responsibility to support their family members back home in villages and cities. In Saudi Arabia, the average monthly expenditure of food per person is 572.13 Riyal which is 11,454.17 Indian Rupees. This is excluding the monthly rent. Kuwait would burn a hole in the pocket. Imagine one kg of potato is 0.28 Kuwaiti Dinar and 68.14 India Rupees. The exchange value of Dinar is enticing but the expenses are scary. Apart from food and accommodation, job security is not guaranteed. Indian maids from Andhra and Telangana who work as domestic help are exploited.

There are many reports of horrible treatment by the rich Arabs. Many migrant workers under extreme poverty take loans and move to greener pasture. The high exchange rate of Dinar, Dirham, and Riyal sway them to try their luck in the Oil-rich countries. But the moment they land the maidservants are imprisoned in the golden cage and their Passports ceased. Kafeel(Sponsor) take the passport and wouldn’t return. These helpless victims are at the mercy of the Shaikh family. Indeed the Kafeeldom is a serious problem.

Many workers and maidservants bear the brunt and slog every day in the palatial bungalows of the Arab Shaikh. There is no holiday and respite for them. It is outright exploitation and there are cases of verbal and physical abuse.

It is rather shocking that our politicians give a hoot about them. The Chief Minister of Andhra wants free medical checkup and quarantine for Andhra Telugus who returned from Gulf. He is demanding that KCR should open airlines and send them to their respective towns in AP. On the other hand, the Chief Minister of Telangana is all at sea, and his silence is affecting the 12, 00,000 Telangana workers stranded in GCC countries. The Center has no clue about it. It is up to every Indian to decide if the plight of the stranded workers should be seen from the prism of caste and religion. Should we again start the Andhra and Telangana debate and let the migrants suffer?

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