Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Gulf News
As India enters the second phase of lockdown for another 19 days for containment of COVID-19, panic and tension among millions of helpless India expats in Gulf countries is deepening, triggered by the worsening shape of the global economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. While experts and organisations (working with the expatriates) are estimating the possible job losses of Indian migrant population in Gulf countries, the central government is yet to announce its plans on how to deal with the imminent crisis.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make ‘special consideration’ of the Keralites who want to return from countries in the Gulf region. "At the earliest opportune time, Government of India may consider arranging special flights to bring these people back,” wrote Vijayan while assuring that the state government will take responsibility for the “testing and quarantining needs of the Keralites” who are returning.
The worsening economy of the gulf countries due to fall in crude oil prices and other non-oil-related businesses will have an adverse impact on the Indian workers in Gulf countries, says political analyst Prof. K Nageshwar. “The fall in recruitments, increase in taxes, unpaid salaries, delayed salaries and preference for locals in new jobs are among the factors that will cast an adverse impact on Indian workers there,” Nageswar told NewsClick.
Estimatedly, there are over 90 lakh Indians in Gulf countries, majority of them are categorised under semi-skilled and unskilled labourers who will bear the major brunt of the pandemic crisis.
According to Telugu Daily Eenadu, Nearly 10,000 people from Telugu states who went to Gulf countries on visiting visas before the coronavirus outbreak are now stranded there and are uncertain about the coming future. “Telugu communities in the United Arab Emirates are worried over the increasing spread of coronavirus and job losses due to the closing down of many countries,” Eenadu quoted R Shekar from Dubai as saying.
Organisations working with the expatriates in Gulf countries are also estimating massive job losses and return of workers back to India.
Recently, Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Organization based in Sharjah had written to the prime minister requesting for the arrangement of special flights for jobless workers back to the country.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that on Sunday, the UAE warned of possible action against countries refusing to allow migrant workers to be repatriated. “Several countries have not been responsive about allowing back their citizens who have applied to return home under the current circumstances,” stated the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
On the other hand, the number of coronavirus cases is exponentially increasing in both India and Gulf countries. Six Gulf countries--Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE--have reported 16,573 COVID-19 positive cases and 111 deaths, while India has reported 10,750 COVID-19 positive cases and 360 deaths, at the time of writing.
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