New Delhi: When Narendra Modi made his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia last year, it was widely hailed as another masterstroke by the Indian prime minister with commentators dubbing his act as ‘Modi scoring big with befriending Saudi.”
Modi’s supporters in media and outside argued that by befriending Saudi, Modi had effectively neutralised the influence of India’s arch-rival, Pakistan. However, the latest data shows that 50% Saudi jobs meant for Indians shifted to Pakistan and Bangladesh under Modi as India’s prime minister.
The Narendra Modi government had come to power on the promise of creating two crore jobs early but half of its tenure has passed and the unemployment rate is continuously increasing. This has been admitted in the Rajya Sabha by Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh.
Backwards are the largest sufferers. In reply to a question during Question Hour, Singh had said that overall unemployment was rising, but the rate was highest among the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Ironically, the government not only failed in creating jobs back at home but it indirectly shifted more than 50% gulf jobs meant for Indian workers to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The complication of newly introduced eMigration system caused havoc and Saudi employers in turn started shifting the job opportunities towards neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The unnecessary formalities in visa possessing created utmost delay in e-migration clearance for non-skilled and semi-skilled workers who go to gulf countries in search of jobs.
The government data shows that there are more than 50% decrease in number of migrant workers who go to Saudi Arabia for jobs since the Modi government came to power.
In 2013, there were 3,53,565 Indians who went on job visa to Saudi Arabia while in 2016 only 65,356 could go there for jobs.
In 2013, there were only 12,654 Bangladeshis who got employment in the Gulg country but in 2016 their number rose to 1,43,913. While in 2013 the number of Pakistanis who got employment in Saudi Arabia were 6,36,721, this number increased to 7,71,867 in 2016.
It is to be noted that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), the Government of India, rolled out its eMigration Project to all the POE offices perhaps without taking its adverse fallouts and implications into consideration.
As a result, over half a million job opportunities from India have already been lost to other neighboring nations like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka where there is no such complicated formalities like eMigrate System or Minimum Referral Wages.
Furthermore, if this policy does not change, there are fears that India will lose to the tune of $30 billion annually in the form of foreign remittance which is one of the major sources of strengthening our vibrating economy.
India gets the highest amount of remittances in the world at roughly $70 billion, almost three times the amount of FDI that comes into the country.
By far, the largest amount comes from the Gulf countries – Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – which sent a combined $32.7 billion, almost half of all remittances received. Below is the foreign remittances data as compiled by the World Bank.
It resulted into steep decline in remittances from Saudi Arabia which is the largest employer of Indian workers.
During his UAE visit in August 2015, PM Modi had promised to the Gulf employers that the complicacy of eMigration system will be resolved in 30 days, but that is yet to happen.
(With inputs from Syed Zubair Ahmad)