The new immigration policy expected to come up in the Lok Sabha during its ongoing session is likely to bring in several changes that may impact on the fortunes of ordinary job-seekers in the Gulf countries from States such as Kerala. What are the imperatives in this context in light of the growing odds that both skilled and unskilled candidates are facing in the Gulf market? Our readers respond:

Reconsider move

The Lok Sabha plans to amend the provisions of the immigration policy whereby major changes would be brought in the present system of employment in Gulf countries. Many Indians including Keralites are working in Gulf countries and the restrictions proposed may seriously affect them. If more restrictions are imposed on skilled and unskilled jobs in the Gulf countries, it may seriously affect our people who are working in Gulf countries and those who are planning to go to these areas. Let the world come out of this present economic situation and then only should Parliament make laws or put some checks on the immigration of skilled and unskilled workers to be recruited to Gulf countries. Lakhs of Indians are working in Gulf countries and the move by Parliament may seriously affect them.

P. Sankaranarayanan


Seek Ministers’ help

Any new immigration policy should help, rather than hinder, the person affected as he seeks to be a immigrant to earn his bread in the host country. The Malayalis in the Gulf send about Rs. 1,000 crore a month to the Kerala economy which benefits thousands of homes. Changes in the immigration policy, if restrictive rather than liberal, are bound to affect job-seekers (Malayalis in the main) detrimentally. With two Malayali Ministers in the Union Cabinet, the Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed, the Minister of State for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi, the Malayalis would certainly bank upon their capacity, sagacity and diplomatic skills to see that the new policy works to the advantage of Malayali job seekers.

K. B. Rajagopalan

Chittoor Road

Provide extra staff

Kerala has the distinction of sending the largest contingent of workforce abroad particularly to the gulf countries. It is also a fact that job-seekers, particularly the unskilled, from this State suffer the maximum mainly due to dishonouring of promises made by employers. Unlike in the past, there is tremendous competition in the Gulf today from citizens of other countries who are well supported, cared for and encouraged by their respective embassies. To prevent such undesirable episodes and security risks to the host country, the job details of all those seeking a fortune in the Gulf should be strictly routed through our embassy there, so that there is a complete index of Indians working in that particular country. For this purpose, if need be, the consulates should be provided with extra staff. R. Unni Krishnan


Very important

The changes envisaged in the Immigration policy of the country is important to Kerala. This State has a very large educated youth waiting in the wings to be usefully engaged. An equal or even larger proportion is in semi-skilled and unskilled area. The one and only lucrative path for them is the promise of a job overseas. If we look at the exodus of job seekers to Gulf area and the remittances received from them during the last three decades, we can realize how this overseas job availability has sustained the Kerala State economy at a comfortable level. Irrespective of some adverse affects brought in by this boom, by and large, the State and its population has found better living conditions brought about by the employment potential in the Gulf area. Therefore, any change in the Immigration Law should not jeopardize this opportunity before the Keralites and also of other States in the country. If we introduce laws unilaterally, we would be treading on issues sensitive to the employers. These measures can prove counter-productive and lessen the chances of employment of our waiting young men.

M. Ramankutty


Help job-seekers

At present, lakhs of Indians are working in Gulf and European countries. If more restrictions and problems are added to the issue of passport, VISA, Immigration, it will directly and indirectly affect lakhs of Indians, as even today, Indians are suffering in foreign countries because of VISA and other issues. Indian embassies in other countries are not helping Indians who are facing problems.

Not only unskilled staff, skilled employees also face problems because of our restrictions and lack of communication with other countries.

Kerala will be affected more because of this as most of the NRIs and workers outside are Malayalis.

I suggest Parliament pass a bill, which favours those Indians who are going abroad for jobs. The Indian government, embassies and other institutions including the Ministry concerned should be always helpful to all Indians.

Neelandon Kuruvattoor


Complex challenges

Kerala with its high demographic density throws up complex challenges in the sphere of employment. These challenges have endowed the labour in Kerala with a migrant tendency as its inevitable attributes. Therefore, the immigration policy must be suitably devised to facilitate geographic mobility of labour from Kerala to foreign climes.

Workers from South India including Kerala prefer to work in the Gulf because the latter offers them fat pay packets sans taxation. Another preferential option to migrate to the Gulf states is their geographical proximity. The Indian diaspora makes a good proportion of the working class in the Gulf states.

However, the Gulf countries do not provide permanent residency or citizenship to the migrant workers.

This constitutes a lacuna that adversely affects the job-seekers, particularly the unskilled ones. The prospective immigrant policy should promote ethical recruitment standards.

It should embody provisions for unambiguous work permit and residence procedures to avoid exploitation of the workers.

N. Sadasivan Pillai

Camp: Modinabad

Help from embassy

Legislation will bring in a semblance of order, but along with it a number of bottlenecks and corruption. I feel, in the case of overseas recruitment, laissez-faire works better.There are risks involved in overseas jobs. Instances of girls being trafficked and children being used as jockeys in horse races are legion.What is needed is timely help to Indians in distress abroad by our embassies and other government agencies.

P.V. Divakaran


Seal loopholes

Amending the existing immigration policy is a welcome suggestion if it provides a better deal for the job-seekers.The policy should be less cumbersome and easier to understand for job-seekers. Thousands of job-seekers immigrate to foreign countries, especially to the Gulf every year. The proposed policy change should not make the job-seekers run from pillar to post to get the required documents and complete the formalities related to immigration. At the same time the envisaged policy should seal the loopholes which the recruiting agencies take advantage of.

The Government should see that the job-seeker is not cheated by the recruiting agents or the employer abroad. Assurance given at the time of recruitment regarding wages, living conditions and the nature of the job should be strictly adhered to by the employers.

Suitable monitoring cell or registration agencies should be established to sort out the grievances of any of the immigrant labourers.

Special care is necessary while allowing women to immigrate for jobs.

The proposed policy change should ensure the safety, security and well-being of the job-seekers with special emphasis on women job-seekers.Kerala’s economy is very much dependent on immigrant’s remittances, hence suitable measures are essential so as such opportunities should not be lost due to stringent policies.

Government should be able to arrest the brain drain with the new policy, so that the country can prosper at a faster pace.

P. Surendranath


Don’t create hurdles

At present, there are many hurdles and issues to get past to get a VISA to go to a Gulf country. If a new bill adding problems comes in the Lok Sabha, it will affect Malayalis seriously because most of those going abroad from Kerala are unskilled workers. They don’t know the issues involved in immigration. They only think about their livelihood on reaching Dubai or other Gulf countries and how to feed their families in Kerala. Our Government should not snatch away their bread by bringing more problems in getting passport, NOC and VISA.

Our MPs should bring the issues of Malayalis to the notice of Parliament to protect the interests of Kerala.

Sreelakshmi Sankar