Though the number of Indian workers earning their livelihood in Kuwait has seen a significant drop between 2015 and 2017, there is no such scale down in other Gulf countries.
Answering a question about the declining number of Indian workers in the Gulf in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament), VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, said, “As per the information received from the Indian Missions in these countries, the number of Indian workers in the Gulf countries has gone up in the year 2017 compared to the corresponding numbers in 2015 except Kuwait, where the number has come down.”
In Kuwait, the number of Indian workers has come down from 70,765 in 2015 to 38,871 in 2017. However, there is no scale down in the number of Indian workers in other Gulf countries since 2015.
A comparative statement of number of Indian workers in Gulf reveals that the number of Indian workers increased in Bahrain from 2,10,081 to 2,27,239 and from 6,50,000 to 6,91,539 in Qatar.
Similarly, the number of Indian workers in Oman from 6,69,882 in 2015 increased to 6,88,226 in 2017.
As far as the number of Indian workers operating in Saudi Arabia is concerned, there were 2,93,000 workers in 2015 which increased to 3,05,000 in 2017. United Arab Emirates had 2,06,000 Indian workers in 2015 which rose to 3,03,000.
The Minister also pointed out that as Indian workers going for overseas employment to the Gulf countries are employed on contractual basis and have to return back to India on completion of their contract period which is generally 2-3 years. Therefore, the number of workers returning to India after completion of contract is not a definitive indicator of any trend.
However, VK Singh admitted that the number of emigration clearances granted to Indian Emigration Check Required (ECR) passport holding workers going to Gulf countries for employment has come down compared to the corresponding numbers in the year 2015.
“A large number of Indian nationals holding ECR passports reportedly travel to the Gulf countries on tourist visa and get their visas converted to employment visa, thereby bypassing the e-Migrate system. These numbers as well as the number of Non ECR passport holders going to the ECR countries for employment, are not reflected in the e-Migrate emigration clearance data,” he added.
Member of Rajya Sabha Vijila Sathyananth has asked the question from the Minister in the Parliament.
Indian government has signed labour and manpower cooperation related Memoranda of Undertaking (MoUs) and agreements with countries that are destination for a large number of Indian migrant workers.
These include all the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries namely, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The agreements and MoUs seek to ensure that the respective host country has to take 'measures' for the protection and welfare of workers.