Across the gulf-THE HINDU-17-04-2020


Around eight million people in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries constitute a unique cohort among Indian diaspora communities around the world. Their labour is vital for the GCC economy. With no option of assimilation into their host countries, their link to the home country remains intact, unlike Indian immigrants to the West. The vast majority of them who are on subsistence wages are facing a tough situation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of them suffer from preexisting medical conditions and are used to procuring medicines from India, which is now impossible. Vast sectors of the economy are shut, rendering many of them jobless. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nurtured good relations with all rulers of the region but the ongoing crisis is testing the endurance of India’s ties with some of the GCC countries. The UAE government has said it might revise current partnerships concerning labour relations with nations refusing to cooperate with measures to repatriate private sector expatriates who wish to return home.

The country’s ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna has promised only those who are tested negative for the virus would be repatriated. The Centre must take the initiative to bring together State governments, and work out arrangements with national governments in the region in a manner acceptable to all.

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