Post-Arab Spring, there is some concern for Indian jobseekers in the Gulf, which now accounts for over 6.5 million Indian nationals.
The Indian workers have started feeling the pinch in countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as laws in these countries ensure that their nationals get employment on priority. Henceforth, there is nothing much New Delhi can do about it.
The Gulf countries had factored unemployment among the youth as a major trigger for the Arab Spring that uprooted regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and its ripple effect was seen across the globe.
“Unemployment is seen as one of the main factors for the Arab Spring and countries in the region are alive to this reality,” says a senior government official.
The oil sector, the backbone of the Gulf economy, doesn’t give direct employment. Moreover, there are plenty of cheap expatriate workers available in these countries.
Saudi Arabia, where 2.45 million Indian workers reside, is implementing labour law Nitaqat with greater focus this time.
The law reserves a minimum of 5% and a maximum of 30% in the private sector for locals. Kuwait has also introduced a similar law.
Most of the Gulf countries are sending back those who over stay their visa period or cracking down on those who use illegal methods to gain employment such as changing visa or sponsor.
Many of them are sent back with amnesty. Recently, as many as 3,500 Indians came back with amnesty from the UAE.
Despite constant pressure from Kerala politicians, including overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi, New Delhi has limitations in making the domestic Saudi law a “bilateral issue”.
Over two lakh people from the state are in Saudi Arabia.