Help sought for Indians in Gulf hit by global meltdown

March 2nd, 2009 - 7:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghDubai, March 2 (IANS) A Gulf-based Indian charitable body has appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to dispense financial assistance to Indian workers in that region returning home after the global economic meltdown.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Welfare Trust, a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based charitable organisation working for the welfare of expatriate Indians, in its letter, appealed to the Prime Minister to ensure that an immediate assistance of Rs.100,000 each is provided to deserving workers who had to return after losing their jobs in the Gulf and admission granted to the children of such workers in Indian schools.

“The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is expecting an exodus of 500,000 Indian workers from various countries as a result of world economic recession,” K.V. Shamsudheen, the trust chairman, wrote in his letter.

“Based on this, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs proposed a package of Rs.114 crore (Rs.1.4 billion) to (the) Finance Ministry which was rejected by the Finance Ministry. On behalf (of) non-resident Indians we strongly condemn the decision of the Finance Ministry.”

A large number of Indians are among the thousands of expatriate workers in the Gulf who are reportedly leaving the region in the wake of the global economic meltdown, which cost them their jobs.

According to media reports and surveys, the once-booming construction sector in the Gulf is among those affected by the global crisis. A vast majority of expatriate Indians work in the construction sector in the region as contract labour.

In his letter, the trust chairman called upon the Indian government as well as state governments, to provide the following as rehabilitation package to those affected: an immediate assistance of Rs.100,000 to deserving Gulf returnees; prepare a data bank of Indian workers returning from abroad; order private and public sector companies to recruit from this data bank people who are found to be experienced, exposed to moderns technology and with special work culture; approach various counties which are not affected by the financial crisis and reach an agreement to recruit the Indian workers from the data bank of foreign experienced hands; and instruct schools in India to admit the children of the returnees.

“Most of the people returning from Middle East are unskilled workers, semi skilled and semi skilled workers with low wages. They are getting termination notice before they settle down. Majority had huge loan commitment at home and abroad,” Shamsudheen wrote in the letter.

The letter, citing World Bank figures released in March last year, pointed out that Indian workers abroad sent home $27 billion in 2007 to make India the top receiver of migrant remittances.

“Thanks to Indian rupee exchange advantage in 2008 it went up to $32 billion. (The) Main source of this remittance is the lower and middle-income Indian workers in the Middle East with its estimated five million NRI workers,” it stated.

“The NRI remittances are over three times the foreign direct investment (FDI) to India. We believe the Indian government must look after NRIs more than foreign investors,” it added.

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