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Whom to look up to?

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The Centre and the state governments haven’t so far addressed a report which suggests that the latest developments at the international level as well as the unfavourable scenario in the economic sector jeopardize the future of the Indians, who left for abroad in search of a better future.

No attempts have been initiated in this regard to discuss or find solutions to the matter. With newly implemented changes in the legislations after the US president Donald Trump assumed office, thousands of employees including Indians are in the fear of losing their jobs. The new employment laws in Australia also worry the foreigners. Several reports have been surfacing of late that warn of a bleak future awaiting the Gulf expatriates who bolster the economic backbone of several states including Kerala. In a conference of Ministers of State for External Affairs recently held in Delhi by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the word of caution from the Indian ambassadors in Gulf countries deserve immediate consideration. Given the current scenario of ongoing economic stagnancy faced by the Gulf nations due to the fall in oil prices and other reasons, the diplomats who have realized the crisis personally, say that the move to send back the expats is likely to be continued in coming years. The meeting emphasized on the need for implementing rehabilitation projects and schemes by the state governments for the Indians returning home.

The recently implemented amendments to the labour laws in Saudi Arabia where more than 25 lakh Indians make a living, aggravates the return of the expats. With ‘Nitakat’ law made more stringent by classifying the business establishments into different categories, many had to leave the country. However the fact that there has not been an exodus as feared brings relief. At the same time, the frequent new directives issued to reinforce Saudization, has led to the expelling of foreign employees from different sectors. The mandate that only Saudi nationals should be employed in malls would surely leave a large section of the work force including Keralites in trouble. About 19, 000 Indians returning home availing the amnesty declared by the Saudi government for 90 days starting from March 29 points towards the complex reality of the rehabilitation crisis created by the mass exit from a country. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj have said that it was the responsibility of the state governments to rehabilitate the returnees and that the Centre was willing to extend the required assistance. Kerala assembly last week, unanimously passed a resolution demanding the Centre to take initiatives to safeguard the expats who are presently in severe employment crisis. A very vague suggestion to provide the same benefits like the boosts given to the exporters and concessions provided to the foreign investors to the expats has been included in the resolution.

The Centre and the state governments have not been able to formulate a comprehensive emigration policy or make effective measures for the welfare of the expats despite the Gulf migration that spans half a century revamping the social and employment sectors and staggeringly improving the life standards of the people. Those concerned haven’t so far planned any policies and projects with prudence or form any comprehensive schemes other than suggesting some quick solutions whenever issues arise. The political leaders and Ministers who pledge promises when they step into the Gulf soil, usually fail to remember everything when they return home. Innumerable rehabilitation schemes were announced during the time when ‘Nitakat’ became a hot topic of discussions as well as apprehensions even in Kitchens. One would be shocked if it’s examined what happened to all the schemes later. The misfortune of those who were compelled to flee from their home as they failed to repay the loan they took for rehabilitation, was what was heard later. On one hand, the expats always complain of neglect. But on the other hand, there exists complaints that they don’t make the necessary efforts to properly understand or utilize the welfare schemes formed by the governments. The credible reports about the mass departure of the expats remind us that that the path forward would be difficult with such sloppy approaches. The Central and the state governments should form different schemes and hold collective discourses on effectively implementing them.

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