Thursday, April 01, 2010

Migrant Workers Melt Like Candles in the Gulf to Give Light to Their Families Back Home

Recent shocking statements made by Chairman K V Shamsudeen of the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust (PBWT) divulged that only five percent of Indian expatriates living in Bahrain would lead a comfortable lifestyle from their earnings if they were forced to return home today. These findings reflect the extravagant lifestyles their families are creating with the hard-earned remittances received from their migrant worker relatives and a disregard for responsible saving habits. The Sharjah-based representative said that this problem occurred amongst other national groups as well, including Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Pakistanis.

Consequently, the TradeArabia News Source reported that this startling percentage of low and middle income migrant workers from India who have worked in the Gulf States for decades are returning home with little or no resources to further support their families.

The survey from which this information was derived was conducted by the PBWT and included 10,100 migrant workers from India living in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries, including 1,500 from Bahrain who admitted that their sacrifices and self-deprivation in exchange for the well-being of their families back home yielded little long-term benefit.

Shamsudeen stated that only 2% of Indian families were responsibly saving portions of the remittances they receive, and encouraged migrant workers to discuss the harsh and often unforgiving conditions they face while living in the Gulf with their families, as a way to encourage more conservative spending habits, explore wiser investment opportunities, and inspire greater appreciation for the money they receive, especially given the precarious nature of their jobs vis a vis the recent global economic downturn. Shamsudeen eloquently explained that saving in small drops will eventually make an ocean.

80% of workers surveyed were married, but only 10% had their families living with them in the Gulf.

To add insult to injury, migrant workers are often ignored by their families if they do not receive remittances. Families in India were said to not appreciate the sacrifices that their spouses/relatives make while trying to support them; many often enjoy only one meal a day and live in deplorable conditions.

5 Million "Non-Resident Indians" as they are called live and work in the GCC countries, 60% of whom come from the Kerala region in southern India.

This article is particularly au courant given recent initiatives taken by regional governments to forcibly deport migrant workers living in the GCC countries illegally, including Bahrain. Knowing that the hard work invested by these workers will yield nothing once they return home is heart-wrenching.

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