Friday, December 16, 2011

The dark side of an Emirate - Johann Hari

For those who have worked in the Persian Gulf, or, for those who have been there, Johann Hari writes candidly about what goes on behind the glitter of malls and office complexes The dark side of Dubai - Johann Hari in The Independent.

Yes, I have been through it all. I lived in a camp in the desert, I have seen the exploitation of labour, I have seen the taking away of passports, I have seen the cruelty meted out to my compatriots. Ours was a British Multinational, so we were comparatively better off. However, I could see the workers of the contractors struggling under the harsh sun for 12 hours or more without proper wages or over time.

It's indeed sad to see how development has gone horribly wrong for these immigrants who make these countries rich. It says in the article that the Indian Embassy counted around 900 suicides/deaths, but then it stopped counting, or, forgot to give away the true figures. For a parent in Kerala sending a son to the Gulf is a big risk because he may not come back. He will either be killed, murdered, or, commit suicide.

Rivalries between Asian nationals are very high. There's an unacknowledged war between: Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangla Deshis, and Philippinos. People get beaten up if they aren't careful. That means that it is very easy to accomplish a murder on a construction site. Just push the fellow down from a tall under-construction building and say he fell down. Who will know?

True, when we enjoy the hard work of an immigrant, also think about what he/she is going through in the desert country. It's callous how Indian embassy officials do not investigate conditions their citizens are living in those countries. I think India which has more expatriates than other nations should make it mandatory to investigate all the labour camps before sending its citizens there and ensure that they are paid legitimate wages.

External affairs ministry, are you listening?

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