Gulf has slowly emerged as one of the top destinations in the world where Indians migrate for better employment opportunities. Gulf countries like Oman, Bahrain and Qatar specifically attract a large number of blue-collar workers. In fact, blue-collared Indian workers in these countries have remitted USD 33.47 Billion back home, between April to September 2018.
However, as per an RTI response carried by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, for every $1 Billion they remitted back to India, about 117 Indian workers died in Gulf countries.
More than 10 deaths every day in the last 6 yrs
Venkatesh Nayak from Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative first submitted an RTI to the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The RTI application was then transferred by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to the CPIO of the Indian embassies in six Gulf countries. It is not very clear if the MEA maintains information about the deaths of Indian workers unless queries are raised in Parliament.
Of the Indian embassies of six countries, the information was received from Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, the Indian Embassy in Kuwait replied that the details about deaths of Indian workers could be obtained from the official website, while the Indian Embassy in UAE refused to provide any information citing Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. This section refers to an exemption in case disclosing information may cause unwarranted invasion of privacy.
With the information obtained from these Embassies, combined with the data provided in Parliamentary questions in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, he encountered a staggering revelation. He said, “Available data indicates, at least 24,570 Indian Workers died in the six Gulf countries between 2012 and mid-2018. This number could increase if the complete figures for Kuwait and UAE are made available publicly. This amounts to more than 10 deaths per day during this period.”
Among the six Indian embassies, only the one in Qatar shed some light on the causes of death. They said that 80% of these deaths occurred due to natural causes, 14% in accidents and rest 6% were reportedly due to suicides.
Remittances received from Indian workers in Gulf countries
As per the report in Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, between 2012-17, India receives $ 410.33 billion in remittances from around the world. Of this, $ 209.07 billion was received from Gulf countries, more than half of the total remittance received.
If the amount remittance obtained from the Gulf countries were to be compared with the number of deaths, for every $1 billion received in 2012-17 from Oman there were 187 deaths; 183 in Bahrain; 162 in Saudi Arabia; 74 in Qatar and 71 in UAE.
“For every US $1 Billion they remitted to India 2012 to mid-2018, there were at least 117 deaths of Indian Workers in Gulf countries,” said Nayak.
Indian workers in Gulf countries
Time and again the hapless condition of Indian workers in Gulf nations has been highlighted. Often agents trap gullible men, mostly from rural areas, give them an unrealistic and disillusioned idea of earning money there.
It is often observed that the working conditions are extremely harsh. There have been reports of untimely payment or even physical abuse. More often than not, employers confiscate the passport of the workers thereby restricting labour mobility. TAll these factors add to the stress and there have been multiple reports of migrant workers taking the extreme step.
It is thus very important the governments of these countries along with the Indian government work towards building humane conditions for the migrant workers. The first step towards this would be maintaining a proper database of the worker deaths and the causes.
Also Read: India Received $33.67 Billion In Remittances From Five Arab Nations in 2016