ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Scary Signal

The plight of the 7,700 starving Indian workers in Saudi Arabia is a warning.

While the news around the beginning of August that 7,700 Indian workers were starving for lack of food and living in abysmal conditions in “camps” in the Shumaisi, Sisten/Macrona, Sojex, and Taif areas of Saudi Arabia was shocking, the “Gulf dream” for Indian semi-skilled and unskilled workers migrating to West Asia in search of jobs had begun unravelling way back in the early 1990s. The Indian media regularly reported incidents of cruelty and humiliation by individual employers. Recently, there have been reports of a number of construction worksites in Saudi Arabia being closed down and workers not paid their salaries. How did Indian authorities allow this without intervening?

The deteriorating economic circumstances in the West Asian oil-rich nations have led to major flashpoints over the past few years with almost all migrant workers, including Indians, halting work on large projects to protest non-payment of wages and appalling working conditions. An Amnesty International report (disputed by the Qatar government) claimed that 279 Indian workers employed on construction sites preparing Qatar to host the football world cup in 2022 had died (among many others) in 2012 due to the bad working and living conditions.

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