What to do with workers booted out from Saudi?

India has over 1.3 lakh workers who have been sent home from Saudi Arabia, and is at a loss because it doesn’t know what to do about them. India’s economy isn’t exactly booming.

The Indian government says it is trying to help about 130,000 people find jobs at home, after Saudi Arabia booted them out under its new ‘Nitaqat’ employment law.

“We are working out a common strategy with the state governments concerned,” Vayalar Ravi, federal minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, was reported as saying. “The most number of Nitaqat-affected people hail from Uttar Pradesh, followed by West Bengal.”

A Saudi government deadline for all migrant workers to legalise their work status, risk imprisonment, or go home, expired in early last month.

The kingdom earlier this year unveiled Nitaqat, a domestic labour policy designed to guarantee a minimum hiring quota for Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia’s Nitaqat law stipulates that one out of every 10 jobs in the kingdom — whose petroleum-rich economy largely has relied on manual labour by millions of migrant workers — must go to a Saudi. That’s just a ten percent reservation for the  local chaps.

“These workers are now facing great difficulties. The Indian economy is not exactly booming now. Growth rates are down and industrial production has been hit,” M.A. Baby, Kerala’s former education and culture minister said. “So there are no jobs for the Nitaqat-affected workers.”

Many of India’s migrant workers in Saudi Arabia come from Kerala.

At the state level, Uttar Pradesh is doing its best to find jobs for 29,000 men who returned from Saudi Arabia in July, UP Labour Minister Waqar Ahmed Shah told the media.

“We have appealed to the central government for help but they have not yet reported the formation of a specific policy on how to rehabilitate the Nitaqat-affected people,” he said.

“We have to understand that now there are a large number of able-bodied men who are out of jobs. The economy must find places for them and unless that is done, there will be disturbance of the social balance,” Shah added.

For his part, West Bengal Labour Minister Purnendu Basu expressed scepticism that India’s federal government could intervene in time to find jobs for these migrant workers.

“The problem is that, once back, the Nitaqat workers don’t sit idle at home. They move away to other states in search of employment. So whatever policies we evolve would prove useless. That is why the central government must take the initiative,” Basu told the media.

Further complicating the problem of what to do with India’s Nitaqat population is that foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country’s industrial development plans — seen as crucial for boosting jobs for the domestic workforce — has fallen sharply in recent years, experts say.

In 2011, India attracted $35.12 billion (2.17 trillion rupees) in FDI, but that figure plummeted to $22.42 billion (1.38 trillion rupees) in 2012.

“India desperately needs $1 trillion (62 trillion rupees) in FDI for investing in its ambitious infrastructure development plans. Only projects like those could be of use to people who have been forced to come back from [Saudi Arabia],” said Lalit Khaitan, chairman of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India’s Northern Regional Development Council.

Share Button
Posted by on December 7, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,INDIA -WIDE,Uttar Pradesh. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login