Policies in the home country must factor new Problems and Issues faced by Indian Diaspora: John Mathew Chandi John

Published Date:   Thursday, Apr 07, 2016

Seminar on “Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Adventures” which was jointly organized by GRFDT and Bharati College on 7th April 2016, brought out many issues of contemporary Indian diaspora. John Mathew Chandi John who narrated many of his lived experience as being a part of Indian diaspora for several years said, there must be some policy to address new challenges of Indian diaspora.

Mr. John said that "in the last one year or 18 months the world economy had undergone a sea change". Countries like Venezuela, Nigeria, Brazil and Algeria instead of being surplus countries fell in to the list of deficit countries. Very rich Gulf countries of yesteryears are no more rich countries and they are heading fast towards the status of deficit countries. All these mega changes were caused by the rise and fall of almighty crude oil. The army of migrant workers in Gulf countries army will be the biggest losers from the slump of oil prices and the impact will reverberate to poor countries across the middle east and South Asia. The rise of oil bought an unprecedented influx of migrants from poor countries in Asia. Migrants account for 30% to 65% of the resident population in these countries. In 2015 Saudi Arabia hosted 2 million migrants from India,1 million each from Pakistan and Bangla Desh, 0.75 million from Egypt and comparable numbers from Syria and Yemen. Smaller but significant numbers migrated from Afghanistan, Sudan, Nepal, Myanmar, Jordan, Lebanon and Ethiopia. These migrant workers amounting to 26 million were sending tens of billions of dollars to their countries which were an important or major source of foreign exchange for the respective countries. Out of these 26 million migrants more than 10 million are Indians. Majority of them are going to lose their job plainly because the economic model of the host countries is under threat from the fall of oil which has pushed the Governments’ budget deep in to the red and economies are close to recession.

The impact of the stoppage of Petrodollar flow in to India and the return of Indian diaspora back to India is a subject which needs research. Unfortunately no one in the Government is concerned about it, as the number 10 million is insignificant compared to a population of 1250 million. The fact to be realised is each expatriate is supporting at least five others in India and thus the affected population number will reach 50 million which is quite significant. Petrodollar loss is compensated to an extent by the drop in oil import bill. The social impact, particularly in Kerala will be very serious.

Indian diaspora in other countries are not affected by the fall in oil prices; on the contrary most of those host countries are net importers of oil and hence their economies are favoured. Middle East and North African countries are heading fast towards recession and resultant unemployment as stated earlier. Saudi Arabia has decided to cancel the trading license of all foreign small shopkeepers; they are groceries, automobile workshops, electricians’ shops, restaurants, repair shops for mobile phones and televisions and a host of other service providers. Those shops will be manned by Saudis. This decision at once throws out a few thousands skilled workers from their livelihood. Do we have enough space for them in India? Similarly the jobs of lakhs of nurses, teachers, clerks and office workers will be replaced by the locals as they are getting qualified and the governments are encouraging them to take up such jobs to reduce financial burden of subsidies and unemployment allowances, Mr. John said.

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