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Indians in Saudi Arabia won't suffer much

Indians in Saudi Arabia won
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Amid an uninterrupted tradition of cordiality between India and its neighbors in the Middle East, the visit of Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to...

Amid an uninterrupted tradition of cordiality between India and its neighbors in the Middle East, the visit of Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to Saudi Arabia has set off a flurry of interest which looked contextually unusual. A But this was so because of the reports of drastic changes announced by Riyadh in immigration rules leading to fears that many Indians gainfully employed would lose their jobs in the Kingdom.

The core of the problem, however, stemmed from the presence of large contingents of illegal immigrants from Asian countries. Yet, the labor force from India has been the largest in the Kingdom, and, as such, the prospect of the axe falling on the Indians working in Saudi Arabia was naturally of grave concern at this end.

Indian migrants in the Arab countries topped the list of all those working in the Gulf and the neighboring countries. In this scheme, Saudi Arabia occupies a very special position: after all, the Indian workforce there totals two millions or more. A Salman Khurshid's visit in the context was thus undeniably of great significance. He did not, of course, go there to plead for any illegal entrants, but his mission was indeed to see that no bonafide entrant was allowed to suffer as a result of the new rules. He found the Saudi authorities sympathetic to India's case. In fact, they expressed readiness to re-consider the cases of the illegal entrants in case of extenuating or extreme circumstances.

The oil boom in the Middle East in the 1970s proved to be a path-breaker and large-scale migration of job-hunters got off to a start from Asian countries to the region. These ranged from humble manual laborers to skilled hands and those aspiring for high jobs and top positions. A The situation remained unchanged for the next few decades till the Arab world came to realize its own potential in the changing times and began sending its own people for higher education in the West to acquire skill and know-how to qualify for the positions available in their lands.

This was a slow process and Western experts still occupy commanding heights there, so to say. India, on the other hand, has come to be particularly known for its doctors and engineers, apart from its educationists and academics who have earned fame in the region. An important point which should not allowed to go unnoticed relates to the easy adjustability of the migrants from India with the local population in the Arab countries. Hence, one would have rarely heard of any friction between them and the Indians working there.

Even as there are large numbers of Indians in many Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia occupies a pivotal position among them all not only because of its huge potential and resources but also due to its socio-cultural peculiarities as well as for the reasons of faith. A Thus while Indians of diverse denominations are found in sizable proportions in the Gulf, and several other countries, the migrant force are Muslims in Saudi Arabia� predominantly from the northern States in India, apart from Bangladeshis.

The UAE and other Gulf States have, on the other hand, predominant presence of people from Kerala and some other States in the South. The reports emanating earlier proved to be no more than a false alarm. The Indo-Saudi bonhomie has indeed prevailed. Reports doing the rounds in the Capital also suggested that Salman Khurshid would utilize his meetings with Saudi leaders to find out how the latter could use their influence with Pakistan to curb the activities of terror outfits based in Pakistan against India.

But this was as far-fetched as fallacious. India stands firmly on its policy of bilateralism with Pakistan as indeed with any other country at that.

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