Indian Workers In Saudi: Stranded In A Foreign Land

Posted on July 21, 2012 in Specials

By Abhishyant Kidangoor:

Gulf countries attract throngs of Indians for both work and leisure. It is a fact well known, that India shares a good relation with all the Gulf countries owing to the large number of Indian citizens working there. However, what we see as a happy and peacefully settled life may not be the actuality. Those settled in Gulf countries go through a lot of ordeals. The recent incident that occurred in Saudi Arabia highlights the situation.

78 Indian workers, mainly hailing from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were stranded in Tabuk, a town located 1000 km from Jeddah. These workers, who were recruited two years back by a Tabuk based company through an Indian recruiter, were left without food and water. However by the beginning of 2012, they stopped receiving their salaries. To add to their woes, their free movement in and around the city were restricted as they were never given their mandatory medical and identity. Their return to India was also hindered by the absence of the passports, which were taken by their employee, when they had joined two years back. This has left the workers and their families perturbed. For all we know, this might just be the tip of the iceberg.

But what is even more disappointing is the inadequacy of the Indian government in setting up effective measures to help people stuck in such unwelcome circumstances. For instance, the Indians stranded in Saudi Arabia had informed the Indian consulate in Jeddah about their plight and had requested for necessary actions six months back when they were denied their salaries. However effective steps were not taken then, which led to the worsening of the situation.

At present however, legal assistance is being provided to these workers by the Indian consulate in Jeddah. But this situation could have been avoided, had action been taken six months back when signs of problems were noticed. The consulate has ensured that these workers will be reimbursed their salary for four months but the trauma undergone by these people, in a completely strange and foreign land is inexplicable. The Indian government should take quick and efficient steps to assure these workers of a proper employment back home and also work to avoid such incidents in the future.

Working and living in another country, as alluring and attractive as it may sound, may not be as easy. Many countries, especially Gulf countries follow extremely stringent rules and regulations, the violation of which may have severe consequences. What one might find normal in our culture might be completely inappropriate according to another culture and can be perceived in a wrong sense. The high salaries, exposure and the relative value of Gulf currencies are all factors that attract Indians.

Working abroad is seen as a matter of pride by many. It is indeed a good opportunity to learn more about the customs of other countries and to get more exposure. Higher salaries and better life style is indeed guaranteed. But living the life of a second citizen is something that remains.