New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power around three years ago, he promised creation of millions of jobs for the burgeoning army of unemployed youth in the country. But the promise of achche din for the unemployed youth of India remains a mirage of sorts.
The unemployment has risen at a fast pace in the country as new employment generation has come to a standstill during the last close to three years of NDA rule.
On the other hand, faulty government policies regarding employment in Persian Gulf has ensured that Indian jobs have gone to Pakistan and Bangladesh in hundreds of thousands.
The disaster called e-Migrate Project
The Government of India has been claiming that it has been trying to improve the working condition of its employees in Gulf countries, especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the largest employer of the Indian labor force in the Persian Gulf. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs of the Government of India has tried to streamline the recruitment of the Indian labor by rolling out the e-Migrate Project and insisting a minimum wage for the Indian labor from India in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The project required foreign employers to register with the e-Migration system through Indian mission and get clearance through the standard procedure guidelines for emigration clearance.
But alas, instead of boosting the employment opportunities for the Indian workers in Saudi Arabia, it seems to have a negative impact and caused the demand of the Indian labor to drop suddenly. The demand for the Indian blue collar jobs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has steadily declined following the launch of e-Migrate Project that required the Saudi employers to pay a minimum wage of Saudi Riyal 1700 instead of the going rate of Saudi Riyal 1200.
Arch rival Pakistan thrives
The biggest beneficiary of the rollout of the project is not Indian youth, but Pakistani workers and to some extent Bangladeshi workers. The demand for Pakistani labor has suddenly gone up substantially over the last two years while the demand for the Indian labor has nosedived.
The rollout of the project began early 2015. And the impact became visible soon after. In the year preceding the change i.e. 2014, as many as 329882 Indians went to Saudi Arabia for employment. In the year 2015 there was a perceptible fall in the number of Indians recruited in the Saudi Arabia. The number went down to 306642. The impact was small as the complete rollout of the project was over only towards the end of the year.
Numbers speak louder than words
But in the year 2016, the massive impact of the new policy became visible as the number of Indian workers recruited by employers in the Saudi Arabia went down by more than half compared to the year 2014. The number of Indian workers went down to as low as 165356 in the year 2016.
The sole beneficiary of this drop caused by the policy change by Ministry of Overseas Affairs was none other than Pakistan. As the number of Indian employees recruited by Saudi Arabian employers went down, the number of Pakistanis employed in Saudi Arabia went up. Bangladesh too benefited from the drop in Indian workers’ recruitment by Saudi employers due to the ill-thought out policy by our government.
Bangladesh, Pakistan benefit the most
The way Pakistan benefited from our botched up policy can be gauged by the fact that while in 2014 only 312489 Pakistanis were employed in Saudi Arabia, their number shot up in 2016 to as high as 522750. In the year 2016 when the number of Indian workers went down by half, the number of Pakistanis recruited by Saudi employers swelled to 462598.
Prior to policy change, India was equal to Pakistan in terms of employees recruited by Saudis. In the year 2012 as many as 356489 Indians were recruited in Saudi Arabia against 358560 Pakistanis, while in the year 2011 as many as 293880 Indians were recruited by Saudi Arabian employers compared to only 222247 Pakistanis. So, Instead of benefitting the unemployed youth in India, it is destroying their chances to get job and make a living for themselves and their families.
Besides Pakistan, Bangladesh too is benefiting from the ill-thought-out policy. In January 20115 only 8655 Bangladeshis were recruited in Saudi Arabia, the number shot up seven times to 42272 in January 2016. It is about time that Government of India came to the rescue of the unemployed youth of the country and reverse the changes made by the Ministry of Overseas Affairs to once again improve the chances of employment in Saudi Arabia, by far the largest employer for Indian labor force in the world.