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This book is dedicated to My mother Late Mrs. Zubeda Begum, My father Late Mr. Mohammed Ghousuddin and My teacher Late Mr. Mohammed Abdul Wahab (May their souls rest in peace, Ameen)


Copyright © 2012

Yahind News Network 9 - 4 - 132/A/9/3 Mahboob Garden, Tolichowki, Hyderabad – 500008, Andhra Pradesh - India. Address in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Yahind Infotech Est. Dabab – Al-Ma’ather Housing Building No: 18, P. O. Box: 286690, Riyadh – 11323, Saudi Arabia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publishers.

Cover page Designed by: Syed Kashif Ali Razvi


Contents Contents..................................................................................................... 1 Preface ....................................................................................................... 3 From the Publisherâ€&#x;s Desk ........................................................................ 7 Solution Focused Book ............................................................................. 9 Nice book! ............................................................................................... 10 Acknowledgements ................................................................................. 12 New Income Tax Bill, boon or bane for NRIs? .................................................. 21 Education Quota for Gulf NRIs needs to expand ................................................... 26 Non Muslim Indians in GCC well off than Indian Muslims ................................. 30 NRI status of Indians in Gulf .................................................................. 35 Voting rights to NRIs .............................................................................. 38 Plight of contract workers at US Embassy ..................................................... 42 Indo-Pak cricket diplomacy and expats in Gulf ..................................................... 47 High depression among Indians in Gulf ..................................................... 52 NRIs participation in Indian elections ..................................................... 55 Indian Community Welfare Fund and Dubai consulate .......................... 58

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Resident Indians are richer than NRIs ..................................................... 61 New immigration bill to address issues of Indians in Gulf ..................... 64 Six years cap on expatriates in Saudi Arabia .......................................... 67 Reverse brain drain begins as more NRIs settle down in India ............... 71 Hindu Maulvis seek jobs in Gulf countries ............................................. 74 RTI Act and Indians living abroad .......................................................... 78 Passport in three days from next year ...................................................... 82 Money lending by Hawala operators effecting Indian laborers ............... 86 Gulf returnees to have Insurance and Pension benefits in India .............. 89 Limiting number of expats in GCC on cards ..................................................... 91

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Preface Recently, an employer from a Gulf country was arrested for allegedly luring overseas job aspirants from Hyderabad on the pretext of providing them well-paying jobs. After securing payments from the candidates who were recruited for high-salaried jobs in Gulf, he took them for a ride by assigning them menial jobs in violation of the terms and conditions specified in the contract. They were also made to sign another contract paper in Arabic with a much lower salary and a different job status. The accused had come to Hyderabad and was conducting interviews to recruit candidates for his firm according to the sleuths of the Commissioner's Task Force (Central Zone) Team, who, along with the staff of Narayanguda Police, apprehended the accused. One of the victims, Mohd Abdul Azeem Khan, had complained that the accused came to Hyderabad from Gulf in June last year and signed a contract with some of the unemployed youths from that city to deploy them in his construction company. The complainant was selected for the post of Site Administrator to work at the firm of accused, and promised a salary equivalent to over Rs. 30,000 per month. However, when he went to the desert land, he was made to work as a 'Time Keeper' at the construction site till February 2011 and paid less than ten percent of the promised salary in violation of his employment contract, according to the police. The way aspirants for Gulf jobs are taken for a ride and how information gap on the rules and regulations in those countries could prove costly in their job hunt is the theme of the book, “Expat Ride,� by Mohammed Saifuddin. The author, who works for a Bank Al Bilad in Riyadh, is a journalist by profession and has

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a regular column on Yahind.com, a web portal for NRIs, under the same title. He has made use of his long stay in the Kingdom by putting together information useful to newcomers or aspirants for Gulf jobs. For instance, they ought to know that after putting in place a sixyear cap on the stay of expatriates, Saudi Arabia recently unveiled its plan to limit their number to 20% of the population. If this proposal goes into effect, nearly 3 million expatriates will have to leave the Kingdom. The Saudi population was 18.7 million at the end of 2010, while the Kingdom hosts 8.42 million expatriates, accounting for 31% of the population, according to the book. To achieve the target, says the author, 2.9 million expatriates will have to leave the Kingdom during the next few years. “Announcement about this plan by the Labor Minister came after a meeting of the GCC labor ministers in Abu Dhabi. The meeting decided to step up their campaign to replace expatriate workers with qualified Gulf nationals.” The author quotes Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakieh as saying that 90% of the private sector work force in the Kingdom comprises foreign workers. The official document on Nitaqat program (concerning the government‟s Saudization program) notes that there are nine foreigners for each Saudi national in the private sector. According to the Manpower Research Bureau‟s findings during 1430H (corresponding to 2009), 448,000 male and female Saudi nationals were unemployed, while eight million expatriates held jobs in the Kingdom in various sectors during the same period. Of this figure, the breakdown shows that there were six million expatriate workers in the private sector. However, a report by the

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Riyadh Economic Forum said expatriates accounted for 76 percent of the countryâ€&#x;s total workforce in 2007, says the book. In terms of foreign exchange remittances from the Gulf countries, the book shows that they accounted for 27 per cent of the total inflow in the first half of 2009-10. He quotes Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi as saying that the problem was aggravated in the case of those Indians who were residing illegally in those countries. Shocking trend To quote Saifuddin: “The poor economic and financial condition of these workers in Gulf countries was revealed in the recently published news stories about the emerging trend of Reverse Hawala. According to these reports, Indian workers in the Gulf countries are facing such a hard time that instead of sending remittances to their families, many of them are forced to seek financial support from their families and friends back home, in India. Their families and friends are sending them money from India to ensure their survival. The shocking trend of Reverse Hawala is another indicator of pitiable condition of the Indian labors and blue collar employees in the Gulf countries.â€? The author points out that the Enforcement Directorate, which monitors the inflow of money by Indian migrants through the illegal hawala system, noticed an increasing trend of Reverse Hawala during 2011. Their investigations revealed that a lot of money is being sent from Kerala to the Gulf countries where a large number of migrants from this state work as laborers. The investigation also revealed that the money being sent out of Kerala to the Gulf countries is more than the remittance sent back home.

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Another issue is that of repatriation of dead bodies. The Government admitted on December 7, 2011 that there were problems in getting back bodies of Indians employed in the Gulf countries who expired during their stay. He, however, assured the Lok Sabha that all efforts are being made to deal with the issue. "There are problems in getting back the bodies. But these countries have certain rules. Especially in Saudi Arabia, the body is handed over only after a Final Report is filed. But in other Gulf countries, it takes about a week," Vayalar Ravi said in the Lok Sabha. Overall, it is a timely and useful publication, for which the credit must also go to Syed Zia-Ur-Rahman, CEO, Yahind.com, the leading web portal for NRIs in the Gulf, for bringing to the governmentâ€&#x;s notice issues missed out by the Indian press. Javid Hassan Editor, Yahind.com

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From the Publisher‟s Desk Indian expatriates planning to return home usually find themselves in a fix, as they are not sure what opportunities await them in their homeland. There is a dearth of information, since local newspapers in the Gulf at best provide only sketchy information. For instance, they may not be aware that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is planning to launch a scheme for the rehabilitation of the returnees. Those with business interest could enter the franchising market, which is experiencing a boom as the capital investment required is not high while the returns are reasonable and steady. Besides, expert guidance is on hand to steer the direction of growth on the right track. “Expat Ride,” a 100-pages book by Mohammed Saifuddin, Joint Editor of Yahind.com, represents a maiden attempt on his part to address various concerns among the returnees, while it also updates expatriates on news of interest to them. This comprehensive publication will be brought out under the banner of Yahind.com for release on the occasion of the PBD Convention that takes place in India in the first week of January every year. It is a laudable initiative by Saifuddin, a bilingual journalist with a good command of both English and Urdu. His long stay in the Kingdom, journalistic experience back home, keen observation, and an ability to read between the lines, combine to make “Expat Ride” a roller coaster ride. It makes refreshing reading also because of some interesting nuggets of information thrown in, such as Right to Information Act and Indians living abroad, Reverse brain drain begins as more NRIs settle down in India, Resident Indians are richer than NRIs, Non Muslim Indians in GCC well off

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than Indian Muslims and Hindu Moulvis from north India boning up on Arabic in search of pastures green in the Arabian Gulf, just to name a few. This publication, hopefully, will be the first in the series to be brought out by Yahind.com in its quest to connect NRIs with India and vice versa. We wish you happy reading. Syed Zia Ur Rahman CEO, YaHind.Com

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Solution Focused Book Expat Ride is a glimpse into author‟s relentless struggle for the good of NRIs, notably, the hardworking ill-fated needy, at times in the clutches of greedy. I found the book "Expat Ride" to be informative, innovative, inquisitive & solution-focused. I applaud the sincere YaHind.com management for its far sightedness to launch the publication of this book under their banner, on the occasion of the "PBD" convention to be held during first week of Jan. 2012 in the city of Jaipur in India. What impressed me most was, author‟s thoughtfulness and masterly style of writing, composing & compiling the book. Hearty congratulations to Yahind team. I am sure the readers will find this compressive publication very appealing, productive & fruitful in the long run. Hopefully "The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs" and other enlightened authorities will focus their valuable attention. Many others also may follow suit with concrete measures to improve the situation of NRIs of the "Sand-Dunes" & Bharat returnees of the gulf region."Mashallah" author‟s moving appealing analysis of every tick & beat of NRI hearts will avoid "Band-Aid" approaches. Spreading education and awareness will lead to fallout of "loving cooperating goodness". As someone put it wisely, “Bad thing about good time is that it ends. Good thing about bad time is that it also ends". Keep up the good work, don't falter; Prejudice against any, let's not harbor.

Dr. Majid Kazi Royal Physician of Saudi Arabia Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee

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Nice book! Nobody else but an NRI is in a position to help another NRI to settle down in Middle-East. I am glad to see the book „Expat Ride‟ by Mohammed Saifuddin because actual experiences are always better than travel brochures. This book provides good insight to the real world concerns of expatriates in Middle-East. www.yahind.com has been doing the great job since long for discovering the real expat-life in the Middle East through providing required information to NRIs. This is indeed another brilliant step by the website to decide to publish a book on an occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2012. The book is a collection of Mohammed Saifuddin‟s articles published on the website. All the articles are related to the Indian expatriates in Gulf countries. It is nice to see that there is so much more to the creative practices of Mohammed Saifuddin. I have known of Saifuddin for long and never knew that he was up to so much more than newspaper journalism. He is a well rounded writer that seems to come up with nothing but original ideas. The articles in the book do not only highlight the issues of expatriates, but also presents their solutions as well as sharing their experience in the participative living in the Middle East guide. As an active member of NRIs living in Saudi Arabia, Saifuddin provides a good food of thought, knowledge and practical advices through his pieces of writing to those who nervously enter in Saudi society. The book certainly helps ease the cultural shock. It will help the readers to discover the expat community in the MiddleEast. The book also relates the dual face of the expat‟s dream, which is as bright and shining as it is dark and treacherous.

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The publisher has structured the content in such a way that it's logically and timely set out. It is easily legible and well-presented. It can stand on its own merits and I can rate it on a scale leading up to „Must Read‟. The book can be certainly useful for NRIs as well as other expatriates living in the Middle-East to come away with some very vivid images in mind. Keep writing, Mohammed Saifuddin, you are headed in a good direction and I would be pleased to read your next offering. Best regards, Sameera Aziz S4sameera@gmail.com Int‟l Editor Saudi Gazette Dated: 7-12-2011

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Acknowledgements This book is an assemblage of my articles from a prevalent website www.yahind.com, especially preordained for the Expatriate community in the Middle-East and which were published through the year 2011. It was in my mind since long to contribute whatever miniature; I can, in my capacity as a journalist to ballpoint columns as and when plausible, if not regularly; thereby highlighting the troubles faced by the vast expatriate community in general and Indians in particular. The frenetic work schedule watered down my spirits. However, the incessant tenacity urges of Mr. Syed Zia Ur Rahman, the CEO of Yahind.com made me audacious to start penning these articles for the column, which would are presented for the valuable readers in the form of a tome. The fortnightly column “EXPAT RIDE” was a result of relentless persuasion by Mr. Syed Zia Ur Rahman which appeared on the portal for the first time in January 2011. As the response, appreciation was tremendous from all quarters. Towards the fag end of year 2009 when the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh‟s visit to Saudi Arabia was finalized, it was then that Yahind came up with the idea of bringing out a special magazine to mark the Indian Primer‟s historic visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thus, it was decided by the Yahind team to publish a magazine coinciding the Indian Prime Minister‟s visit to the Kingdom, which commenced around last week of February 2010. Prior to that, the 1st edition of Yahind special e-magazine saw the light of the day on January 26, 2011, the Indian Republic day. Then Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mr. Talmiz Ahmad launched it during the flag hoisting ceremony at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.

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After a series of long ranging discussions with Yahind‟s Bangalore based Editor Mr. Javid Hassan and the Yahind team in Saudi Arabia, the maiden e-magazine was offered to worldwide readers. The next edition of the magazine saw the light of the day during Mr. Manmohan Singh‟s visit to Riyadh. The publication of special e-supplement and wide ranging coverage the PM‟s visit to Riyadh on Yahind.com was possible only due to the support and encouragement by the authorities at the Indian Embassy, Riyadh. We were offered the facilities on par with regular newspaper journalists. We are grateful to the concerned officials at the Embassy, especially Mr. Talmiz Ahmad and Dr. Hifzur Rahman. In his capacity as the Second Secretary, Press, Information & Culture Dr. Rahman was always supportive. Above all, my sincere gratitude is due to my parents and the school teachers, who were the real driving force to light up the burning desire of journalism among me. Love and affection of my mother Late Mrs. Zubeda Begum and my father Late Mr. Mohammed Ghousuddin through out my education played vital role in shaping my career. Late Mr. Mohammed Abdul Wahab and Mrs. Asfia Subhani, correspondent and Principal of Kilpatrick Mission School, Hyderabad and my Urdu teacher Mrs. Qudsia not only pushed me to participate in many literary competitions but also incubated the habit of reading and writing. Due to their encouragement and pushing; I started getting published in print media from the school days itself. My name appeared in the newspaper for the first time in 1987. It was possible only because of my teacher‟s encouragement to participate in the literary competitions conducted by Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association in Hyderabad. I reached the venue hesitantly and delivered my speech. The results of the competition were published in the Newspapers next day. I was so

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thrilled to see my name in the winnerâ€&#x;s list that I grabbed the copy of newspaper and rushed to all my relatives to show this. Later on, the thrust of obtaining General Knowledge and seeking information about the literary competitions around the city groomed the habit of reading newspaper every morning. To sharpen our GK, reading and speaking abilities at one go, our principal started news reading session every morning during school assembly. This unique method groomed diverse skills among us. Once, my Urdu teacher Mrs. Qudsia handed me a postcard addressed to the editor of a newspaper and asked me to post it, which I did. As enthusiast, I was looking for the publication to see the letter posted by me. It was published on the third day! It encouraged me to start writing letters to the editor and later it groomed as my desire to get published. Hats off to all my teachers, their unique methods of encouraging drove me to many heights and ultimately to the place where I stand now! I dedicate this book to my parents and teacher. I would also like to express gratitude to my Mentor, Guide and Teacher, Professor Abdur Raheem whose enormous support and guidance during my Journalism Course lead me to learn the tricks of the media trade. He will always be remembered as bold and dynamic Head of the Journalism Department, Osmania University. My lecturers and friends at Anwar Ul Uloom College, Hyderabad encouraged me in all the ways. I am thankful to all of them. My sincere gratitude is due to my better half Fatima Begum; she always supported me in all my writing endeavors. My brothers Mr. Mohammed Gayasuddin, Mr. Mohammed Niyazuddin brothers in law Mr. Mohammed Aijaz Ahmed, Mr. Hasan Alay, my sisters and sisters-in-law always encouraged and supported me. My father-inlaw Mr. Mohammed Yousuf, my mother in law, all their family

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members Mr. Mohammed Ansari, Mr. Mohammed Bilal, Mr. Mohammed Khaleel, Mr. Mohammed Naser and Mr. Mohammed Rizwan extend moral support for all my endeavors. I am also thankful to my relatives Mohammed Fasiuddin, Mohammed Fayazuddin, Mohammed Sayeeduddin, Mohammed Manzoor Ahmed, Mohammed Naveed Ahmed, Mohammed Najamuddin Ghori, Mohammed Aleemuddin, Mohammed Raziuddin Shahbaz, Syed Ashfaq Ali, Mohammed Khader Ali, Shaik Jahangir etc. for their regular encouragement and support. I would like to thank Dr. Majid Qazi, the Royal Physician whose tremendous encouragement since the beginning of the column pumped a lot of vigor in me. Nutritionist and well known Urdu writer in Humor and Science Dr. Abid Moiz always mentored like an elder brother. His in-depth reading and quick response to my write-ups helped me groom my skills. Mr. Syed M Afsar bags the credit of introducing me to the print media in Saudi Arabia. A brief introduction at a cultural gathering in Jeddah led him to introduce me to the Editor of Saudi Gazette. It resulted in my inclusion in the list of freelance contributors at Saudi Gazette. Later, when Saudi Gazette launched its Urdu supplement “Awaz�, Mrs. Sameera Aziz and Mr. Mahtab Qadr were very supportive and cooperative in publishing my articles and columns regularly. Mr. Syed Fazil Hussain Parvez, Editor, Gawah Urdu Weekly, is the one who introduced me to the print journalism during my education. When I was in second year of Graduation, Hyderabad edition of Awam Urdu daily was launched and Mr. Parvez was its Resident Editor. When I approached him as a student and showed him some of my published work, he instantly commented that all these remind him of his college days. He instantly offered me the position of Sub-Editor. Later he shouldered me responsibility of

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handling the weekly youth page. As a beginner, free hand to work and huge task offered me ample opportunities to learn basics of journalism. Late K M Raziuddin was a keen observer of the youth and career guidance sections. He always encouraged and advised me in my work. I am also thankful to Mr. K M Arifuddin for this opportunity of short stint at Awam Daily. It was indeed a great learning experience for me. My seniors at Munsif Urdu Daily Late Mr. Ata Mohammed, Mr. Shafeeq Ur Rahman, Mr. Naseem Arifi, Mr. Quayyum Anwar and Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan helped me with professional guidance in day-to-day work. I am thankful to all of them. My thanks are also due to Mr. Khan Lateef Mohammed Khan for opportunity to work for the largest circulated Urdu daily. Mr. Siraj Wahab, Editor, Arab News always encouraged me with his wistful advice on my articles and reports published from time to time. Being an important figure in the English Media in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and one of the busiest journalists, he spares time to read and comment on my articles. I extend my sincere gratitude and thank to Yahind team for their continuous support in our cause. Team members include Mohammed Mubeen, Mir Mohsin Ali, KN Wasif, Javeed Ali, Dr. Mujeeb Baag, Mohammed Irfan (Jeddah), Aijaz Ahmed Khan (Jeddah), Syeda Amtul (Jeddah), Fouzia Khan (Jeddah), Mohammed Parvez, Krishnaveni Selvan, Ramesh Yalagachin, Syed Ashfaq, Mohammed Mubashir Ali Khan, Jalisunnisa Begum, Sarah Kaleem Ahmed, Muduvai Hidayathullah (Dubai), N.V. Venkataraman, Shahul Hameed, Mohammed Nayyar Alam. Senior journalists and my friends in Saudi Arabia Ghouse Arsalan, Qasim Mustafa, Syed Toufeeq Ahmed and Tajamul Ali Khan provided useful advice and inputs from time to time in writing this column.

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I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all my friends and colleagues whose advises and suggestions helped me in shaping my career in Journalism. My classmates Mirza Momin Baig and Mir Hussain Mohiuddin offered me a lot of support and help since my school days. The friends and seniors in the professional fields who extend helping hand and always cooperate with me include Nemathullah Khan (Munsif), Ather Moin (Siasat), Mustafa Ali Sarwari (MANUU), FM Saleem (Hindi Milap), Hamid Mirza (Munsif TV), Syed Abdul Quayyum (ETV Urdu), Mohammed Abdul Basith (TV9), Noorul Arifeen (Etemaad), Mohammed Abdur Rasheed Junaid (Gawah weekly), Najeeb Ahmed (HMTV), Abid Abdul Wasey (MANUU), Shaukat Ali Sufi (Rashtriya Sahara), M A Majid (Etemaad), Amer Ali Khan (Saisat), Mohammed Rasheeduddin (Siasat), Shahabuddin Hashmi (Siasat) and others. My friends and acquaintances in Saudi Arabia Mohammed Abdul Raouf, Mohammed Rasheeduddin, Vilayat Hussain, Syed Izhar Ali, Mohammed Yousef, Mirza Saadullah Baig, Mohammed Sirajuddin, Mohammed Fareeduddin, Shaik Arif, Syed Zubair, Ayas Bagan, Mohammed Salahuddin, Rizwan Shaikh, Abdul Kareem, Mohammed Abdul Baseer, Mohammed Majeeduddin, Mohammed Osman Siddiq, Mohammed Abdulhai, Mohammed Ishaq Ahmed and others who encouraged me back and front. Indian social and cultural organizations in Saudi Arabia and their office bearers were always very supportive in providing useful feedback for our publications. We would like to thank Hindustani Bazm-e-Urdu Riyadh, Bazm-e-Ittehad Saudi Arabia, Alilgarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) Riyadh, Andhra Pradesh United Society (APUS), Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association (JMIAA) Riyadh, BISWAS, Federation of Kerala Associations in Saudi Arabia (FOKASA), Indian Engineers Forum (IEF) Riyadh, India Business Forum (IBF) Riyadh, Deccan

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Cultural Association Riyadh, Tanzeem Hum Hindustani, Telugu Kala Kshetram, Riyadh, Tamil Sangham Riyadh, Khak-e-Taiba Trust Jeddah, Urdu Academy Jeddah, Zinda Dilaan-e-Jeddah, Jeddah Cricket League, AP NRI Forum Jeddah. Migrants Rights Council Hyderabad, an NGO working for Gulf Migrants is very supportive in our cause. Its president Narayana Swamy and Vice President M Bheem Reddy always encouraged us in our endeavors. On behalf of the Yahind team, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to our patrons who helped us by placing their advertisements in our publications; they include Khana Khazana Restaurant Riyadh, Arms International Construction Riyadh, Inter Continental Educational Consultants Riyadh, Mezbaan Restaurant Riyadh, Jeddah Cricket League etc. There are many prominent Indian community leaders in Saudi Arabia who encourage Yahind.com through one way or the other. We thank all of them. Some of them are Sharief Aslam, Siyadat Ali Khan, Jamal Qadri, Shameem Kauser, Nayeemullah Shareef, Architect Abdur Rahman Saleem, Salem Zubaidi, A A Shameem Khan, Dr. Mohammed Ashraf, Mohammed Quaiser, Ubaid Ur Rahman, Akhtar Ul Islam Nadvi etc. During my stay in Saudi Arabia, I had a short stint with Al Harity Company for Exhibitions Ltd. in Jeddah as Publicity and Promotions Officer. Even though it was a very short spell of few months, I gained a lot of insight in Public Relations and Event Management. I am thankful to Mr. Zahoor Siddique, Director Exhibitions, for this great opportunity. I still regret that prolonged vacation, due to some ill-fated events back home, which drove me away from continuing this lucrative job.

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Mr. Syed Zia Ur Rahman, CEO and Mr. Javid Hassan, Editor, Yahind.com were the real back bone of this book. Their insightful guidance at each and every step has an important and vital role. As a result, we are able to present this book to our valued readers. I am thankful to Dr. Majid Kazi, Mrs. Sameera Aziz, Mr. Javid Hassan and Mr. Syed Zia Ur Rahman for expressing their enlightening views about this book. I am also thankful to all the team members of Yahind.com for their regular support and encouragement. I would like to thank Syed Kashif Ali Rizvi for his time and efforts in designing the book. Finally, I regret if I miss to mention any one who helped me in any way. I pray to the Almighty to shower his mercy and blessings on all my well wishers. Last but not the least; I would like to express my sincere thanks to the readers whose feedback and insight helped me in continuity of EXPAT RIDE on www.yahind.com Mohammed Saifuddin, Riyadh, KSA mohdsaifuddin@gmail.com

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New Income Tax Bill, boon or bane for NRIs? The Indian government has tabled a bill in parliament to replace existing income and wealth tax laws with a new tax code which is believed to widen tax net, provide incentives to investors and increase government revenues. It will also compel the NRIs to shorten their stay in India if they want to get exempted from the proposed new tax. The proposed DTC Bill mandates NRIs to pay tax on their global income when they reside in India for a period or periods amounting to 60 days in a year, whereas in the existing IT Act NRIs have provision to stay for 182 days in their home country. The Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee presented the proposed bill in the parliament in this August. And if everything goes as planned by the government, the new tax code will be effective from 1st April 2012. As the stage is all set by the Indian government to implement the new tax code, the Indian expatriates working in the Gulf countries have raised their concerns on the governmentâ€&#x;s intention to bring them under the tax net. Most of the Indians working in the six Gulf countries viz., Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait are semi skilled workers and blue collar employees, whose earnings are the result of their hard work under the pathetic conditions. Their earnings are not as hefty as that of the NRIs in America or Europe. With the limited income and responsibility of family back home, they retain a little amount for their disposal which is hardly sufficient for their maintenance. Most of them live a bachelor life without families as they canâ€&#x;t afford to bring their families to live with them. In fact, the ill fated workers,

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most of whom are the laborers, live in such a pitiable condition that a whooping ninety five percent of them donâ€&#x;t save anything and forced to return home empty handed when their contract is finished. The rising concern of Indians in the Gulf countries should be sympathetically considered by the Indian government. The Indian government declared that the intention behind including NRIs under the tax net is to fetch those businessmen who spend considerable time out of India; just to get exempted from the income tax. Understandably, government believes that by compelling the NRIs to stay for a minimum of ten months a year out of India, they will curb such businessmen. Whatever the intention government may have, the new tax code will definitely affect the Indian workers in the Gulf countries adversely. The contributions of the Gulf NRIs are not only evident in India, it is commonly known that their money remittances play vital role in strengthening Indian economy. Other than that, there are many other sources through which the hard earned money of these poor Indians in Gulf is helping the country. The dismal condition of these poor workers in Gulf countries was revealed in the shocking result of an on-line survey conducted by a Dubai based NGO Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust. According to this survey conducted few years back, a whopping 95 per cent of Indians in the Gulf countries do not save even a penny and return empty handed to India irrespective of their stay in the oil rich countries. Even after working for say a decade or more, they canâ€&#x;t save for their future. Only five per cent of the Indian work force; including

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the white collared, bring enough money to live happily back home. Similar percent of them save enough money to live happily; even after working for a decade. The survey also revealed that ninety percent Indian expatriates in Gulf countries live without their families. As per the survey, only 15 per cent of Indians in Gulf get salaries above 4500 Dirham. Only two per cent of NRI‟s families back home save something for future. The most significant observation of the survey is that the middle income NRIs in the Gulf countries sacrifice even the basic necessities and leads a pathetic life for the sake of the families in India. The extreme climatic conditions under which they work lead them to health problems, but neglecting this; Indian workers keep on working to remit maximum amount to ensure good standard of living for their loved ones back home. The survey further revealed that the dependents of these workers in India spend generously and lead happy life but they don‟t consider saving something for the retired life of their bread earner. Only two percent of the families save something from the remittances from Gulf. Commonly it is believed that the Indians in Gulf save hefty amounts and stack their remittances in their NRI accounts. But the real fact is contrary to this popular belief. In fact their regular remittances to families in India are spent on domestic needs, acquiring a house or on marriages of their sisters and daughters. According to the Reserve Bank of India report “Remittances from Overseas Indians: Modes of Transfer, Transaction Cost and Time Taken”, a predominant portion of 61 percent of the remittances sent to India from abroad is used for family maintenance (food, education, health etc).

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Most of the workers in Gulf don‟t have any source of regular income in India when they return. This mostly results in their seeking another job in Gulf. The inability of these poor workers is evident in the RBI report which states that only four percent of the remittances are invested in land, property or equity shares. The Indian workers in the Gulf countries have bleak future in India when they return home. Upon their return to India, firstly they have to compete with the young job seekers who are definitely the first option for the employers who are eager to add new blood in their teams. Secondly, they don‟t have any source of regular income in India to live a happy life. This mostly forces them to end up in seeking another job in the Gulf or take up petty jobs to survive. The Pravasi Bandhu Trust survey revealed that only five per cent of respondents feel they could lead comfortable life if they go back for permanent settlement in India. Based on the above facts, it will be really unfair to put the tax burden on the shoulders of the Indian expatriates living in the Gulf countries. As India already has a law against double taxation; it is most likely that these Indians in the Gulf countries would be mostly affected by the new tax code. It will also force NRIs to count the number of days they live in India and discourage them from travelling to India. There are many low income workers like construction labors, helpers, maids, etc., who can‟t afford to go on holiday ever year. They travel once every two or three years and stay for as long as three months.

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Some companies facing financial problems send their employees for unpaid vacations for as long as six months. Few others are forced to lengthen their vacation due to their health problems. It will be unfair to ask such poor workers to pay tax if they spend long vacations at home. There is a necessity for Indian government to conduct study of the Indians in Gulf and carefully draw a line of distinction between the Indian workers in the Gulf countries and those living in other countries. There is a long pending demand from Indians in this part of the world to rip off the NRI tag from them. The poor Indian workers in Gulf should not be treated on par with those NRIs in western countries. Many times, Indian ministers and political leaders have accepted this fact and favored giving special status to Gulf NRIs, but none of them raised any voice in the parliament to give such a status and to create special category to these people.

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Education Quota for Gulf NRIs needs to expand After the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2003, the Indian government has announced a scheme for fifteen percent reservation of supernumerary seats to the NRIs, PIOs, foreign nationals and Children of Indian Workers in Gulf Countries. In 2004, AICTE reserved one third of this quota or five percent of total seats for the children of Indians living in the Gulf countries. The scheme was initiated after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised to solve the problem of Gulf NRIs children‟s admission in India. In the first PBD held in January 2003, Vajpayee said “to meet the educational needs of children of the workers in the Gulf, we plan to reserve a certain proportion of seats in our academic institutions for the children of the Gulf NRIs”. Subsequently, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) issued the notification on 21 Jan 2004, which not only reserves one third of the fifteen percent supernumerary seats for the children of Indian workers in Gulf but also mentioned that they will be treated on par with the local candidates for admission and fee. And NRI fee should not be collected from them. With the above regulation AICTE not only separated this group from the title of NRI but also allocated the quota of five percent seats in colleges and universities. Accordingly the notification says “under these regulations fifteen percent (15%) seats in all the institutions / University Departments, approved by AICTE, offering technical courses leading to Diploma, Degree and Post-Graduate Degree in Engineering & Technology, Architecture & Town Planning, Pharmacy,

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Applied Arts, MBA & MCA, Hotel Management & Catering Technology, shall be allowed on supernumerary basis from amongst Foreign Nationals / Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) / Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries, over and above the approved intake, provided that 1/3rd of the 15% shall be reserved across different disciplines in the educational institution, for the Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries”. It further added “There shall be no NRI fees. The Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries shall be treated at par with resident citizens”. As the children‟s education is a major concern of parents, the scheme was appreciated by all sections of the Indians in GCC countries when it was initially announced. But the quota was not implemented in all the colleges and universities with true spirit. Only few colleges implemented it. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) provides a list of institutions where the seats are available for the children of Indian workers in Gulf countries. It is surprising to note that only sixty colleges in length and breadth of India offer seats to children of Indians working in the Gulf countries. Still a large number of colleges do not implement the scheme. The colleges are using the same AICTE notification for avoiding this quota. First of all the notification does not mandates the colleges and universities to implement the quota. As the seats are supernumerary, these seats are in addition to the actual seats allotted to the college. Hence, it says the college should have sufficient infrastructure to accommodate these additional students. Any college can

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simply deny implementing the quota by stating that they donâ€&#x;t have the required infrastructure for it. The AICTE should work out on the modalities by offering some concessions or facilities to colleges against implement this quota. The quota was implemented in Maharashtra for the admissions to the current academic year in a big way. Many students from the Gulf countries got the admission in engineering colleges with the annual fee of Rs. 37,500 against US dollars 5000 which they used to pay previously under the NRI quota. The scheme is excellent but it should be ensured to facilitate maximum number of students by attracting more colleges to offer admissions under this scheme. We are all aware that the Indians living in Gulf countries used to get the admission of their children in professional courses offered by private colleges through the management quota reserved for NRI students; for which they used to shelve whooping fee. Acting as vultures, the private colleges fleece the students by charging them huge fee for a seat in professional courses. The reservations are limited only for few courses which fall under the AICTE; these are Engineering & Technology, Architecture & Town Planning, Pharmacy, Applied Arts, MBA & MCA and Hotel Management & Catering Technology. The reservations should be expanded to medical and all other courses. On one hand, AICTE notification says that the children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries will be treated on par with the local candidates. And on the other hand, it says those who fail to get the seat under the reserved quota of 1/3 of 15%, have to seek the admission under the remaining 2/3rd quota reserved for Foreign Nationals / NRIs / PIOs. It means,

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children of Indians workers in the Gulf Countries have to pay much higher fee, similar to that of Foreign Nationals, NRIs and PIOs, if they fail to get seat under the reservation. With this, that part of the notification which says there shall be no NRI fees for the Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries, giving the Gulf Indians same status as residents becomes futile. In view of this part of the AICTE notification, those who fail to get the seat under the reserved quota; should be allowed to compete in the open competition, then only it will be said that the children of Indians in Gulf countries are truly treated on par with the local residents. The Indian Workers in the Gulf countries and their children have to shelve exorbitant fee for the correspondence and distance learning courses offered by Indian universities. The annual fee of a three years bachelorâ€&#x;s degree course in Gulf through correspondence is around thousand dollars per year, while the fee in India for the same course would be hardly Indian Rupees 2000 – 3000. Due to this huge difference in the fee structure, many semi skilled and blue collar Indian workers are compelled to stick to the same position and profession for long time, without any career development. Distance learning and correspondence courses should also be brought under this scheme and fee should be equal to that of Indian residents. The students could be charged additional fee for dispatching course material and administrative services. But the total fee should not be in US dollars.

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Non Muslim Indians in GCC well off than Indian Muslims Generally it is thought that the earnings of expatriates in the Gulf countries have changed the lives of Indian Muslims in a big way. It is undoubtedly true that the economic and financial condition of Muslims in several parts of India has improved after the Gulfâ€&#x;s petrol boom. But it is not correct to say that Gulf countries became pasturing land for the Muslims only. These countries opened the floodgate of opportunities for everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion. The trend of migrating to Gulf equally benefited all the communities in India. Majority of well off Indians in Gulf countries are non Muslims. The non Muslim Indians in the six GCC countries may be lesser in number compared to their Muslim counterparts but, it is irrefutable fact that even in Gulf countries the nonMuslims are much better-off than Muslims when compared to their living conditions and standard of living. The majority of Indian Muslims in Gulf countries are semi skilled workers and blue collar employees. Where as, the majority of non Muslims are holding key positions in different sectors and also dominate the retail business. It may be unbelievable for few, but the reality is that nonMuslims on key positions outnumber Indian Muslims in various sectors like banking, finance, hospitality, transportation; healthcare etc. The above facts are not just assumptions, they are real facts derived from the figures emerged after analyzing the list of one hundred powerful Indians in six GCC countries. The list is compiled and published by Dubai based English magazine

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Arabian Business. Famous for its listings of Richest Arabs, Arabian Business Rich list, Efficient CEOs, Smart Banks; the magazine brought out its first ever list of Gulfâ€&#x;s hundred most influential Indians. Can you imagine what could be the number of Muslims in the list of 100 influential Indians in GCC? You may think they dominate the list or you may assume that they make at least half of the list. Hold on! You may be surprised but the reality is that they canâ€&#x;t even make 20 % of it! The number of Muslims among 100 powerful Indians in GCC is just 18. The power list of influential Indians is based on how much impact the actions of one person can have on others, hence the more impact, the more influence. The publishers considered Indians from across the six Gulf nations Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman from all walks of life. List includes the big names from more than 20 sectors including business, media, entertainment, law, academia, arts, fashion, music etc. Among the 18 powerful Muslim Indians included in the list, 13 belongs to UAE, three from Saudi Arabia and one each from Qatar and Oman. When Maghanmal Pancholia arrived in the UAE seven decades ago aboard a Chinese cargo ship he was looking for a new life and a business opportunity. Renowned as the oldest expatriate in the emirate, he eventually rose up through the business ranks and became one of the most influential players in the Indian community. As the Chairman of Arabian Trading Agency, he is placed fifth in the list. Pancholia is believed to be a trend setter for Indian expatriates to make their fortune in the retail business. This

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trend spread among Indians in UAE so stead fasted that the list is dominated by those associated with the retail sector. Thirty retailers make their entry to the list. The Managing Director of retail giant Emke Group Yousuf Ali MA took the top spot and emerged as the most influential Indian in Gulf. The retail mogul sits atop a business empire that owns Lulu Hyper Markets and employs 22,000 people from over 29 countries. The group has a turnover of more than $3.5 Bn globally. It is one of the largest Indian-owned conglomerates in the Gulf. Most of the Indian Muslims in Gulf are employed in private sector. Only few of them tend to do business. Among thirty Indians representing retails business, only five are Muslims, including the top listed Yousuf Ali. Even though Gulf region is regarded as the pioneer of Islamic Banking and Sharia compliant Financial Services, the majority of Indians playing vital role in the boardrooms of international and local banks in the region belongs to other communities. While 17 top executives from Banking and Finance sector got listed as powerful Indians, surprisingly the list does not include any Muslim! Just one Mustafa Vayazil appears in the list but represents Insurance sector and not banking. He is the Managing Director of Gargash Insurance, UAE. Only two Muslims appear among the fifteen big shots listed from the construction and real estate sector. While P Mohammed Ali, Vice Chairman, Gulfar Company, Oman stands as the sixth powerful Indian in GCC, Syed Salahuddin, Managing Director, ETA Ascon & Star Group holds twentieth position in the list.

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The list includes four names for Saudi Arabia. President of Indian Overseas Congress, Saudi Arabia, Dr. Asaar Khan find place on 23rd slot in the list. Founding Member of International Indian School Jeddah Dr. Rafiuddin Fazulbhoy is placed on 53rd position. The Kingdomâ€&#x;s Royal Physician Dr. Majiduddin Kazi is on 83rd position. Managing Director of Nasser Al Hajri Corporation in Eastern Province, Dr. Ravi Pillai is placed on number 90. It may tend some readers to surprisingly raise eyebrows but Indian women proved their prowess even in the deserts of Arabia. Five women became the part of the powerful Indians list. They represent Healthcare, Media and Marketing sectors. The top among these women is the founder of Zulekha Hospital and Healthcare Group, UAE Dr. Zulekha Daud. She left India 40 years ago and came to UAE with a dream to offer affordable quality medical facilities to all. She set up the Zulekha Healthcare Group in 1961 which now employs around more than a thousand staff and treats over 550,000 patients every year. The Group has expanded and includes a new 88-bed hospital in Dubai, four medical centers and three pharmacies. This year, Daud signed a $24m financing deal with the World Bank to provide affordable hospital care in India and the UAE Shobha Menon, Second among women in the power list, is from Advertising industry. Currently CEO of Equity Advertising, she carved a niche for herself in the industry during the last two decades. When she joined multinational advertising agency, Fortune PromoSeven in 1990, its Regional MD Donal Kilelea warned that if she does not perform well in two weeks, she will be sacked. She progressed in her career with many leaps and bounds to grow and went on to become the legend of Dubaiâ€&#x;s advertising scenario.

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Another medico Dr. Sarita Kapoor is on the 82nd position. A Dubai based obstetrician and gynecologist has been serving the vital needs of women in the UAE for the last fifteen years. She was trained at various institutions in Chennai, Singapore and Germany. She used her experience to help local couples with infertility with the latest international high-tech procedures. In her spare time, she also carried out substantial charitable work. Social worker in the Healthcare sector, Gulshan Kavarana, Director, Special Families Support (SFS) Group makes the position at 92. The Dubai-based mother of two has made it her mission to help children with special needs, particularly after her daughter was diagnosed with autism. She now heads the SFS Group, which was founded in 1999. Kavarana helped hundreds of parents to cope with their children having special needs. Model and Fashion Graduate, founder of Queen Bee Production, Uma Ghosh Deshpande, got a slot on 93rd position. She also has a fashion label, clothes from which sell in some of the UAEâ€&#x;s most high-end stores. She seeks to diversify to different media activities. Among the list, 83 are from UAE alone. The names from Qatar and KSA are six and four respectively. Kuwait and Oman has three each while Bahrain has only one name. It will be interesting to see in the coming years whether representation from countries other than UAE will increase.

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NRI status of Indians in Gulf The Indians working in the Gulf countries have been demanding from the Indian government since long time to rip off their NRI status. They have been demanding for this because there is a lot of difference in their lifestyles and standard of living compared to those NRIs living in the rest of the world. The major benefit to those who migrated to other countries is that they can get the citizenship of the country after spending a specific time there. But, the situation of Indians in Gulf is different. Their condition is similar to that of the transit passengers; irrespective of the length of stay, they have to finally return home one day or the other. Due to the lack of higher education facilities in GCC countries, most of the parents are compelled to shift their families to India when their first child passes out from high school. There are many reasons for the Indians living in Gulf to maintain closer social and cultural contacts with their motherland. They are more loyal than other NRIs to their home country and were proved more powerful to India by strengthening its economy by their remittances. Their problems are different from other NRIs. Many times government of India accepted that the problems of its citizens in the Gulf countries are different from the Indians in other parts of world. But the plea of Gulf Indians to rip off NRI status from them fell on the deaf ears of the successive governments of India. The year 2003 witnessed the first positive initiative for the Indians in Gulf when the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee realized that the educational needs of children of the Indians living in the Gulf countries are different from the

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rest of the world. Realizing this fact he assured in Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Sammelan to solve the educational problems of children of Indians in Gulf countries. Subsequently, AICTE issued notification to reserve fifteen percent supernumerary seats above the allotted seats and one third of this quota is specifically reserved for the children of Indians living in the Gulf countries. That was indeed a welcome decision, but this alone is not enough. Just a single step does not solve all problems but a lot more needs to be done. It was already discussed in this column how far this education quota is beneficial to the children of Gulf NRIs. But the positive fact is that the government of India at least realized that the problems of Indians in the Gulf countries are different from other NRIs. Their problems can not be solved by just reserving supernumerary seats in few courses. The NRIs living in the countries other than the GCC lives a lavish life and reap a lot of benefits. The major among them is that they can obtain the passport of the country where they are living. On the one hand Indian government has done little for the Indians in Gulf countries and on the other hand offered the golden platter of PIO card to those who have the passports of other countries. Staying away from India for long time and obtaining the passport of other nation does not make any difference to them in India. Being a PIO card holder they can get many benefits in India. The Indians living in Gulf were disappointed with this as they are more loyal and closer to their homeland compared to other NRIs. Indian government should create a separate category for the Indians living in Gulf through parliamentary act and provide the reservations with other facilities similar to that of other reserved categories. In India different criteria are used for

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providing reservations to the unrepresented and weaker sections of the society. The variety of criteria includes caste based reservations, gender based reservations, state of domicile, and special category groups like freedom fighters, sportsmen, ex-servicemen, physically handicapped etc. So creating a new category for the Indians living in Gulf countries should not be a problem for the government. About two decades back some concerned Indians in Saudi Arabia raised this issue and formed an association called NRI Contract Workers Association. The association made several representations to the government with a demand to call the Indians living in Gulf countries as “NRI Contract Workers�. But these representations did not brought any fruits. The Indian government has already accepted the Indians living in Gulf countries as a separate group, different from other NRIs. In the AICTE notification they were referred as the INDIAN WORKERS IN GULF COUNTRIES. The same methodology should be adopted to create new category through which the NRI tag could be ripped off from the Indians living in Gulf countries. The social and cultural organizations of Indians in the Gulf countries should raise this demand. This issue should be properly and effectively taken up with the concerned Indian authorities.

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Voting rights to NRIs With the passage of Representation of People (Amendment) Bill 2010 in the parliament and subsequent publication of the Gazette Notification, around 11 million NRIs spread across the globe has got the franchising power and they are now able to participate in voting process to select their representatives in assemblies and parliament. The batch of NRIs from Tamilnadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Pondicherry will be first group to cast their vote. They will get this opportunity as soon as in May when the elections of the above states are scheduled. For the first time, NRIs will have their say in deciding the fate of 824 MLAs from the above mentioned 5 Indian states. Till now, no person could be on the votersâ€&#x; list if he or she was outside India continuously for more than six months. On February 4, the Centre notified rules allowing NRIs, who fulfill certain criteria, to vote in elections in India. The above announcement came in following the Prime Ministerâ€&#x;s promise last year. He assured the Indian passport holders living abroad to give them voting rights while addressing the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. Under the revised rules, NRIs holding Indian passports, who have not acquired or applied for citizenship of another country, and who satisfy the electoral officer of the area/locality cited as address in his passport, will be allowed to vote in elections in India. The Indian passport holders living abroad should fill the form 6A and send it to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of the constituency of his/her residence in India. Moreover the

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NRIs should physically present in their constituency on the day of polling to cast their vote. The Indian diplomatic missions in different countries have already uploaded the form 6A on their websites along with the notifications from the respective state election commissions where the elections are due in May. The NRIs have to download the form and send it to the concerned ERO. The address of EROs for all the constituencies is available on the web site of the Election Commission of India. Initially the registration process will be manual, where the NRIs have to download the form from the internet, fill it and sent it along with required documents to the concerned ERO. Automation of this process could be possible in future as Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi was quoted as saying that the process of making online enrollment of NRIs in the voter list will be finalized and after which NRIs will be able to register as voters through the web site of the Indian government. A separate electoral roll will be prepared by the commission for the NRIs, though their process of voting will be exactly the same as ordinary voters. It is indeed a welcome step to involve NRIs in Indian political framework. It is a healthy step which will help in strengthening the democracy in India. Irrespective of whether the NRIs will cast the vote or not, the new rules will definitely benefit those who have political aspirations. According to the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, a person eligible to vote in a constituency is also eligible to contest from that constituency. Since the new rules are silent on this count, it means that NRIs would also be allowed to contest election.

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Some states have a large number of citizens living abroad and rich NRIs from such these states having political ambitions will definitely take this opportunity as a hot cake and contest the polls. According to columnist Moiz Mannan “in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat there are entire districts that boast of “every home” having at least one member abroad. Many of these NRIs have political ambitions and the money and influence to fulfill them. So far, the only impediment in their path was the restrictions on NRIs getting enrolled in the voters‟ lists.” Now the main question will be that how many NRIs will actually be interested to travel all the way to their native place, just to cast their vote. Practically, it will be almost impossible for many to participate in polling. The polling ratio of the NRIs is expected to be very low. Very few of them would actually cast their vote. Precisely speaking, only those NRIs are expected participate in elections whose vacation coincides with the election dates. Several NRIs think that the voting rights conferred upon them are meaningless as no one will spend the hefty expenses and time to travel all the way to India, just to cast their vote. Rather, elaborate arrangements should be made to facilitate them to cast their vote at the place of their residence through postal ballots. The May elections for the five assemblies will boost new enthusiasm among NRIs after which the picture will be clear about how NRIs react to this new opportunity. But the demand of Punjab‟s Education Minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan is also very important who demanded that the possibility of email balloting should be explored as it may not be possible for each NRI to physically visit his native place during elections.

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Election Commission of India (ECI) should consider providing the polling facility for NRIs in foreign countries. Possibilities of postal ballots or voting at Indian missions can be explored. The Conduct of Elections Rules 1961 confer the rights of postal voting to some special groups of people like Security and Armed Forces, policemen serving outside their state, staff on election duty outside the place of their residence, and diplomatic staff. These rules could be amended to expand the coverage and inclusion of NRIs for postal voting. The NRIs from Tamilnadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Pondicherry will have an opportunity to cast their vote in the polling for respective legislative assemblies scheduled in May. To enroll their names in the electoral roll, they have to send the filled in form 6A “Application for inclusion of name in electoral roll by an overseas elector� to their respective Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) along with the copy of the passport. The form should be attested by competent official at the Indian mission. Indian diplomatic missions in several countries have started providing these forms on their websites. In Saudi Arabia, the form along with the guidelines is available on web site of the Consulate General of India, Jeddah www.cgijeddah.com The site also contains the notifications for registration of Indian passport holders issued by the Chief Electoral Officers of the five states where the elections are due in May. All the information related to the electoral registration of NRIs can be obtained from the web site Consul General of India, Jeddah.

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Plight of contract workers at US Embassy It may be a dream of many professional and executive expatriates from Asian countries in the GCC to work for diplomatic missions, especially the embassy and consulates of the United States of America. But, the fate of poor Asian laborers remains same and it does not make any difference for them whether they work for the American diplomatic mission or the small firms run by individuals from single rooms. At both the work places they are equally prone to exploitation and abuse by contractors. This is not a common view or observation, but the shocking findings of the American inspectors from the State Department‟s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). They researched six contracts at U.S. embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates and at two consulates general in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East Regional office of the Inspector General of US Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors prepared the report (Report No. MERO-I-1106,January 2011) titled “Performance evaluation of Department of State Contracts to Assess the Risk of Trafficking in Persons Violation in four states in Cooperation Council for the Arab state of Gulf”. The report revealed that majority of the poor workers lives in bad conditions. More than 70 percent of the workers interviewed live in “overcrowded, unsafe, or unsanitary conditions,” the report says. The criticality of the situation could be understood by the most shocking fact that the among 77 workers interviewed, 20 workers are provided with the quarters having a personal living space lesser than the

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space provided to the inmates at the security prisons in the United States. Janitors in Abu Dhabi get an average of 24 square feet of living space. (While the federal prisoner in the U.S. gets between 45 and 60 square feet.) In Abu Dhabi, 8 to 10 workers were bunked in a 12 by 18-foot room; there are only 15 to 20 bathrooms in a camp which houses over 450 people. According to the report, the contractor in charge of those workers tried to misguide the OIG investigators by taking them to other building which was not where the workers actually lived. “In Riyadh, the embassy‟s 19 gardeners share a dilapidated apartment building with numerous fire and safety hazards” adds the report. Several findings of the report include indicators of coercion (confiscation of documents at the work destination), indicators of exploitation (bad living conditions and payment issues), and indicators of abuse of vulnerability (absence of language education and general abuse of a lack of information). The department‟s inspector general said in the report that the contractors who supply gardeners, maids, cooks and local guards to embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are engaged in practices that fall just short of violations of US human trafficking laws. Seventy seven percent laborers at the four embassies and two consulates in question told investigators that they had to pay recruitment fees to get their jobs. More than 27 percent of them paid the fee amounted to more than a year‟s salary. While 50 percent respondents said they have paid the

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recruitment fee which amounted to more than six months salary. “This, in several cases increased risk of debt bondage”, the report observed. The OIG inspectors also found a number of payment issues which ranges from withheld wages, confusing calculation of earnings, wage differences based on nationality among others. It increases the risk that workers have been exploited at the work place, the report observed. Variation in salaries based on the nationality seems to be a major issue where US embassy workers of different nationalities often received different wages for doing the same jobs. For example, a Bangladeshi janitor at the U.S. embassy in Riyadh gets paid $4.44 a day. A worker of Indian origin doing the same job makes double, $8.89 a day, the report found. At the U.A.E. embassy, most guards make $22.71 a day, equal to the minimum wage. But the Ethiopian guards there make only $13.62 per day, well below the legal minimum. Workers also reported that allowances for food and maintenance were not enough to cover their living costs. Eighty three percent of the workers interviewed perform overtime or work outside to supplement their income. Workers at the U.S. embassy in Kuwait weren‟t aware that they are entitled to two weeks of vacation per year. Lack of this information leads one employee to work eight straight years, without taking any time off. “All the contractors surveyed held the passports of the workers, many of whom are from South and Southeast Asia, a practice that is barred in each of the four countries”, observes the report. However, the report adds “OIG found no evidence in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or UAE that Department-funded

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contractors were engaged in severe forms of trafficking in persons, solicitation of commercial sex acts, sex trafficking or involuntary servitude, as defined by Section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000�. At all the four embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE and at the two Consulates general in Saudi Arabia and UAE, OIG found contractor practices indicating an increased risk of trafficking in persons, as defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Reacting to the unsafe housing accommodations of the gardeners at the US Embassy in Riyadh, the report recommended the embassy that in consultation with Office of Acquisition Management it should inform the gardening contractor that keeping workers in unsafe housing is unacceptable to the US government. The report also recommended that in future solicitations all the four embassies should require contractors to include detailed descriptions of housing accommodations provided for foreign workers and ensure periodic inspection of foreign workers housing by contracting officers representative. Among the seven recommendations to the embassies it was asked to inform contractors that they require to provide the workers standard contract in English and their native language that include policy on wages, overtime rates, allowances, salary increases, and contract term, leave accrual and other personal matters. The recommendations seem to be impressive but the issue should be effectively followed up by the concerned and contract workers should be assured of improvement in their living conditions. What is necessary is that the place of work

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and accommodations should be regularly checked. The Embassies should ask the suppliers of contract workers to ensure well being of workers. The Office of the Inspector General should ask the US diplomatic missions to submit the action taken report.

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Indo-Pak cricket diplomacy and expats in Gulf As the subcontinent dances to the music of cricket, the battle drums can be heard in the Gulf countries where a lot of Indians and Pakistanis have good relations with each other. When the Indian and Pakistani cricketers confront with each other in a world cup semifinal in Mohali, a lot of fanfare and frenzy is expected to witness in the Gulf countries where Indians and Pakistanis make a huge chunk of expatriates. Due to the traditional rivalry of the two teams, thrill and excitement will be at its peak at Mohali. The cricket diplomacy unfolded by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by inviting his Pakistani counterpart to witness the historical event, will add more enthusiasm among the players as well as spectators. Irrespective of their traditional rivalry and the political events between the neighboring countries, the players of both the teams are very good friends. Several of them not only speak the same language but have much more in common. What more, the venue of the semi finals, Mohali in Chandigarh makes Pak players feel as they are playing in their homeland. They are all familiar with Punjabi culture and language which will make them feel like at home. Both the teams experienced mounting love and affection by the cricket crazy crowd of neighboring country whenever they clashed with each other in the sub continent. Be it the Indian cricket fans or the Pakistani crowd, they shower the praising ovation to good cricket of any neighboring player. The grand event should be taken in a pure sporting spirit. If India wins the match, the Indian crowd will surely go wild.

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But if luck favors Pakistan, then the Indian spectators should seize this opportunity to carry forward the Prime Ministerâ€&#x;s cricket diplomacy by expressing wholehearted love and affection for the visiting team. We should make our neighbors realize by our admiration that we are equally happy with their victory. Let them leave the Indian land with bonding memories of our love and affection. Let this be a parting gift from Indian cricket lovers to the Pakistani team. The drama of politicians to disturb the sporting event and blaming the people who appreciate the good cricket of neighbors should be dealt firmly. Bal Thakrey already criticized the Prime Ministerâ€&#x;s initiative and called it as an act of sprinkling salt on wounds of Indian people. The role of cricket and other cultural events are very prudent in developing people to people relations. The political goons can create disturbance during any event but they can not stop their fellow countrymen from loving with the arts and culture emerging from neighboring land. They may stop the artists from traveling and performing in the neighboring country but they have no control over their own countrymen who instantly start dancing on the musical tunes emerging from across the borders. Same is the situation with the cricket and other sporting events. Far away from their homes, here in the Gulf countries, both Indians and Pakistanis are eagerly waiting for the big day. For many cricket fans, this clash of titans in the semi finals at Punjab Cricket Stadium, Mohali will be more important than the final match. Here in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, for a lot of Indian and Pakistanis, playing cricket is a favorite weekend activity. Many teams and clubs have emerged during last few

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years. Many of these teams have combination of best players from both the countries. Such teams are the best example of what the sportsmanship and sporting spirit is. Irrespective of their nationalities they strive hard for the victory of their team. Many a times, they have to clash with players of their own country from the rival team. But this never became a hurdle in their commitment to play for their team. Several companies have formed their teams and promoting the cricketing in Saudi Arabia by sponsoring mega events. The cricket is being played in the Kingdom since around forty years. To lead the development of cricket in the Kingdom, Jeddah Cricket Association (JCA) was formed in 2008. The new association got a shot in the arm on the opening day with 34 teams registering with it for the inaugural season. Now the number of registered clubs has grown up to 42 and it has equal ratio of Indians and Pakistani players. According to the Vice President of Jeddah Cricket Association (JCA), Aijaz Ahmed Khan, JCA is the binding force among the people of two countries and other nationalities in the Kingdom. Expressing his views about the relationship between the Indians and Pakistanis in the Kingdom, Aijaz said “we did not had any problem among Indian and Pakistanis, even when the situation is very tense at the borders, we were living in peace in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and following the law of the land. We all respect the local laws and we came here to work & we will concentrate in our works, the main priority is our work and then other things.� Even though the Indo-Pak semi final match can be viewed at home and it is also available live on several sites on the internet, the joy of watching the match at an Indian or

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Pakistani restaurant with a mixed gathering of both nationalities gives an unmatched joy and pleasure. Hence several restaurants have made special arrangements of screening the match with the special menu to attract more crowds. “Every Indian wants India to win and their country‟s players to perform well and it is vise versa for our Pakistani counterparts, but those who are watching together will definitely appreciate good cricket. The good game on the ground should be encouraged with spontaneous applause for the players of both the countries” Aijaz adds. With both Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers watching match at the stadium, the players will get a lot of motivation. Especially the Pakistani player will feel like they are playing in the home ground. The massive semi final between the arch rivals India and Pakistan is indeed a clash of titans. It will be a festive day for many expats in the Kingdom. Even though Wednesday will be a working day, several die hard cricket fans from India and Pakistan have already chalked out their plans to either bunk office or take leave. Former Pakistani cricketer Javeed Miandad suggested for including former cricketers, other sportsmen and artists in the delegation accompanying the Pakistani Prime Minister to India. “Despite tensions, India vs. Pakistan cricket should continue. Tension is all over the world. Terrorism is all over the world and we must fight it” Miandad said in an interview to Mid Day. “It‟s not a war. It is a cricket match between two teams. There will be a winner and a loser but we must use cricket to build relationship between two countries. Sport has

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always solved problems between India and Pakistan” he added. Let‟s hope that the hostility between the two neighboring countries may unfold as a new beginning of peace process with this semi-final where Indian Prime Minister‟s cricket diplomacy could play an important role in making a history of better relations.

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High depression among Indians in Gulf Seventy percent of those who commit suicide in Dubai are Indians. Indians in Gulf countries are more prone to heart diseases. These are the two disturbing news which attracted the attention of concerned Indians. Higher cost and poor standard of living coupled with the financial crisis, leads the poor Indian labors and blue collar employees in the Gulf countries to the situation of uncertainty leading to mental and psychological problems. Work related physical and mental hardships, unhygienic housing facilities; extreme weather conditions, loneliness, boredom, etc. are the most common problems being faced by Asian laborers. Worried with sky rocketing prices of essential commodities and increasing home rents, many Indians are reportedly planning to send back their families while those living without families, are compelled to cut off monthly remittances to their families. Faced with the above problems; many Indian expatriates are going through such an extreme traumatic situations that the trend of suicide has reportedly increased among them at an alarming level during the last few years. The gravity of the situation could be understood with the fact that Indians stand top on the number of suicides in Dubai and other places. Among those who committed suicide in Dubai the year 2009, 70 percent were Indians. Quoting the officials, an Emirati news portal reported that among 113 people who chose to end their lives, 79 were from the India.

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In 2008 among the 148 cases of suicidal deaths, 110 were of Indians. In the first 10 months of 2010 there were 56 Indian expatriates among the 94 suicide cases. The expatriates of other nationalities also commit suicide but the high ratio of Indians is a matter of high concern for us and the situation invites Indian social scientists and welfare organizations to take effective steps to control this trend. They should come forward to offer counseling and guidance to the effected people. The general trend of Indian expatriates in the Gulf countries is that upon reaching the new land they forget everything and commit themselves for betterment of their dependents back home. Their family starts to reap the benefits with extra comforts and additional facilities and normally starts to demand for more and more comforts. But the situation of their NRI bread earner becomes pathetic day by day. Many expatriate complaint that their families do not realize the real situation and not recognize the hardships and scarifies of the expatriate. They consider him as just money minting machine. High cost of living due to the increase in prices of essential commodities, food grains, vegetables, house rent, education, transportation etc have forced the Indians in Gulf to decrease their savings to such an extent that many are forced to live without any savings for future. The financial crisis and work related stress, coupled with unhygienic living conditions, loneliness and boredom due to living away from family generally leads many poor immigrants to the illness leading to mental and psychological problems.

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Recently it was reported that the doctors have warned that the blood pressure and heart diseases in Middle East will continue to rise by as much as 174 percent during the next decade. Majority of the patients affected by heart related illness in this region are Indians. This fact was recently disclosed by a news portal; www.emirates247.com which quoted Dr Afzal Hussain Yousuf Ali, consultant cardiologist at the Dubai Heart Centre, Dubai Hospital as saying that “almost 80 per cent of the patients who come with heart – related illnesses are from the Indian subcontinent”. According to Dr Azzan Bin Braik, consultant cardiologist at Rashid Hospital, the number of expatriate patients has increased during the last two years. “It could be due to an increase in the expat population in the country. Other factors such as work related stress, depression and financial losses could also be contributing to the problem”. The situation demands the services of psychiatrists at the hospitals and medical centers but they are rare here. A quick survey of polyclinics and hospitals run by the Indian managements in the Saudi Arabia revealed that they have very good physicians and surgeons but most of them don‟t have psychiatrists. Other hospitals may have this faculty but the practitioners are mostly Arabic speakers which is hardly beneficial to the laborers and blue collared employees. The welfare section of the Indian Diplomatic Missions in the Gulf countries should use the services of psychiatric counselors so that the Indian laborers get adequate counseling from them.

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NRIs participation in Indian elections Doubts raised by several people about the effective use of voting rights by the Non Resident Indians proved to be true in the first election after pronouncement of voting rights to NRIs. Kerala, the state with largest number of NRIs spread across the world, proved that the participation of NRIs in the voting process is ineffective and the number of their votes is so less that it merely makes any effect on the political framework of the state. After the announcement by government that NRIs should physically present in their constituency on the day of election to caste their vote, it was observed by many that practically it is not possible for many NRIs to participate in the voting process. It was demanded by many sections to make alternate arrangements like postal ballots or on line voting. While the number of NRIs from Kerala is over two million, their voter turnout was merely 4,639. Most of these voters are believed to be in their homeland on their vacation and they came across elections by chance, hence they voted. Almost half of those registered on electoral roll did not turn out for voting. For many families in Kerala, NRIs are the main bread earners and they mainly depend on their remittances sent from a foreign country. Political parties of Kerala were the front runners in demanding voting rights to NRIs and Kerala was the first state to set up a department for the welfare of its NRIs and initiated several schemes for them. But all these government

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measures did not help to attract good number of NRIs for voting. With the poor turnout of NRIs in the Kerala elections, it is now quite evident that the hype created by the government about the voting rights has indeed no basis at all. Many NRIs and their organizations from different countries demanded to make necessary changes in the rules to enable them to vote in their host country. It will be a time and money consuming and tedious business to travel all the way to their constituency just to cast their vote. Some proposed to have postal ballots or on-line voting while others suggested having polling at the respective Indian diplomatic missions. Election Commission of India and the Law Ministry has come up with a list of many difficulties in implementing these alternatives. Regardless of all this, many countries have provided voting facilities to their overseas population in their host country. US, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Canada and UK facilitate exercise of franchise through postal ballots. Others like Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, France, Russia, Sweden, Philippines, Japan, Dominican Republic and Spain allow voting at embassies and consulates and France extends the online voting facility to its overseas citizens. The overseas citizens of USA are allowed to vote in federal elections through absentee ballots. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) was signed by the US president Ronald Reagan on 28th August 1986.

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We, the residents of Gulf countries witnessed our colleagues from Philippine casting their votes at their embassies and consulates in 2004 and 2010 elections. The Overseas Absentee Voting Act in Philippines is officially known as Republic Act No. 9189 which was passed on February 13, 2003. It provides a system for the citizens of the Philippines currently residing or working outside of Philippines to vote. For 2004 elections the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) made the required arrangements for registration and voting across the globe, at its diplomatic missions. Out of 364,187 registrants 233,092 turned up for voting. When we compare the above figures with the turnout of NRIs in Kerala, we can easily understand how poor and inefficient the Indian system is. What is needed is that the Election Commission of India and the government should learn from those countries which has already implemented the system and successfully conducted the polling across their borders. The concerned authorities should start to work out the modalities and feasibility study for the other methods of voting like online, postal voting or absentee voting at the Indian Diplomatic Missions allover the world. If the next general elections are held with the exiting system, it will not benefit any fruitful purpose. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Election Commission should start working on this as soon as possible so to evolve the effective system ensuring to attract maximum overseas Indians.

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Indian Community Welfare Fund and Dubai consulate The Indian government has expressed concern for its nationals languishing in the jails of the Gulf countries for various reasons. The Indian workers in the Gulf countries have a clean image and generally regarded as honest and reliable workers. Many organizations rely on Indian employees in running their business successfully. Even the authorities have accepted openly that Indians play vital role in their economies. On the occasion of Indian PMâ€&#x;s visit to Saudi Arabia last year, Saudi Ambassador to India Faisal Al Trad said in an interview to Indian media that Indians are peace loving and law abiding people who respect the law of the land. He also disclosed that the Indians make just 0.01 percent of all the prisoners in Saudi jails. Even though the numbers of Indians in Saudi jails are not much higher, but their wellbeing should indeed be a matter of concern for the Indian authorities. Overseas Indian Affairs minister Vayalara Ravi has informed the parliament lat year that a total of 3095 Indians are serving jail sentences in the six Gulf countries. UAE prisons lead the list with 1361 Indian inmates, followed by Saudi Arabia with 1226 inmates. There are 263 in Kuwait, 126 in Oman, 91 in Bahrain and 28 in Qatar. The minister also informed the upper house of the Indian parliament that the personnel of the Indian Missions in the six Gulf countries periodically visit the prisons to ensure the welfare of Indian inmates.

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Last year the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has established the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in the 43 Indian Missions across the world, in the countries that have a significant number of Indians. The fund is aimed to provide on site welfare services to Indian nationals on a means tested basis in the most deserving cases. With the usage of the fund the Indian Missions offer legal and financial help to distressed Indians. The fund will equip the missions to ensure protection and welfare of overseas Indian workers. The amount allocated for the fund or the amounts made available to the Indian Missions are not disclosed. Being equipped with the funds, the Indian Missions already started utilizing it. The Consulate General of India in Dubai has launched “Project Eagle” as part of its tenth anniversary celebrations. Under this project, they have set a target to utilize the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) through Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC) to get 12 Indian nationals released from various jails in UAE by paying blood money on their behalf. They have identified Indian nationals languishing in different jails who are unable to raise the legal compensation to the family of victims. So far, the Welfare Committee of Indian Consulate General in Dubai has secured the release of nine Indians from UAE jails. Latest among them is Ambotti Srinivas, from Andhra Pradesh; he was released on May 9. Srinivas has knocked down a Bangladeshi in poor visibility, when he was crossing the road and the court held him responsible for the death. Court ordered him to pay half diya money to the victim‟s family. The ICWC paid Dhs 100,000, and got him released from the jail.

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ICWC Convener K Kumar expressed confidence that the remaining three Diya money cases would also be resolved before the self-imposed deadline of June 9. The novel initiative of the Indian government has started benefiting the poor Indians in distress. ICWC in Dubai has done tremendous job by imposing target and deadline on itself. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs should monitor the effective usage of the fund and ensure that the help should reach the deserving Indians in different countries. The usage of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) by Indian Missions in other countries should also be checked and the Indian Missions should come out with the facts and figures of what they did with the available funds. If the Indian businessmen in the Gulf countries come forward and join hands with the Indian Missions, the fund can be extended to help more and more Indians in distress. As the coordinator of ICWC Kumar urged Indian businessmen to support the worthy humanitarian cause as part of Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. Recently there was news about Indian businessmen rescuing fellow countrymen by paying blood money on their behalf. With this, it is evident that the Indian businessmen are ready to extend helping hand for the welfare of their nationals. The Indian Missions should get them in confidence and seek their support and help. Their involvement and financial support will help more Indians release from jails.

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Resident Indians are richer than NRIs It is commonly believed that NRIs are much richer than their Indian counterparts. Earnings in foreign currencies such as dollar, pound, euro, dirham, riyal etc. are attributed to earning more money and living lavish life in foreign lands. But where do they stand in richness when compared to their Indian counterparts? Any guess!!! Hard to believe, but it is true that the number of Ultra Rich resident Indians is almost double than NRIs. The myth of NRIs being richer than resident Indians has been demolished with the publication of intelligence briefing by wealth-X. Titled as “UHNW (Ultra High Net Worth) NRI Wealth by Tier”, the leading UHNW prospecting, intelligence and diligence solution firm wealth-x revealed that the resident Indians not only outnumbers the NRIs in wealth but they are almost double in numbers and their net worth is also much higher than NRIs. The intelligence briefing about the rich Indians is based on the analysis from the information obtained by variety of sources including the own database of wealth-x. It estimates the number of ultra rich NRIs living in different foreign countries to be 4,960 whereas the number of ultra rich resident Indians is 8,200. This is an estimate of those individuals whose net worth is more than US$ 30 million. The total net worth of these 4,960 NRIs is US$ 465 billion whereas the net worth of 8,200 ultra rich resident Indians is estimated to be US$ 945 billion. “Even though the combined aggregate wealth of UHNW NRI individuals has been rising at a rapid pace, it remains

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substantially below UHNW Indians residing within their nationâ€&#x;s bordersâ€? says the report. The number of NRIs worth between the range of US$ 500 million and US$ 750 million is just 80 whereas the number of Resident Indians in the same range is 135. Those NRIs whose worth is between US$ 250 million to US$ 500 million are 130 while the residents in the same bracket numbers to 215. In the region wise estimates of rich NRIs, North America tops the list with 1925 followed by Europe with 1080. Asia hosts 995 rich NRIs against 750 in the Middle East. Latin America and Africa has 200 and 50 rich NRIs respectively. The briefing reveals an important fact that about sixty percent of the global ultra rich NRI population lives in North America and Europe. Interestingly, all the three wealthiest NRIs in the wealth-x list are London residents. They are Laxmi Mittal, Anil Agarwal and Micky Jagtiani. Individually they are worth US$ 31 billion, US$ 6.1 billion and US$ 3 billion respectively. The wealth-x intelligence briefing did not list the names of all the Ultra Rich NRIs and hence the names of NRIs living in the Gulf countries are not accessible. However, Micky Jagtiani is the owner of Dubai based Landmark retail stores group. His business is spread across the Gulf and also India, Pakistan, China and Spain. The important point to note is that the analysis did not includes the money of Indian politicians and businessmen which is illegally stashed in their Swiss bank accounts. If that black money is included in the worthiness, then the number of ultra rich resident Indians may increase substantially.

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The black money of Indians illegally stashed in Swiss banks was roughly estimated to be around USD 1.5 trillion. The main reason of transferring this illegally earned money is to hide it from government. Tax evasion is also the other reason. Even without taking into account the black money, the NRIs remain far behind the resident Indians in richness. The intelligence briefing of wealth-x turns around the common belief that NRIs are richer than Indian residents.

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New immigration bill to address issues of Indians in Gulf The new Immigration Management Bill had been drafted to replace the existing Immigration Regulation Act, 1983 and it will be introduced in the parliament. The new bill will make it mandatory for recruiting agencies, employers and workers to register with the ministry. K N Shrivastava, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, said few months back that the most problems of Indian emigrants overseas, particularly the exploitation of unskilled and semiskilled workers, would end once a new law replaced the existing one. While pointing out Shrivastava said that the „e-migrate‟ project would also be implemented enabling the Ministry to keep track of everything related to emigration. E-passports containing the electronic chip with personal and biometric details of the immigrant would be issued under the project. The “e-Migrate” system will begin in a couple of months and will be implemented in phases over three years. The Problems of overseas Indians are many and when it comes to the Indians in Gulf; their problems are different from those of Indians in Western countries. They face many problems which are specific to them. Even after spending decades they are not eligible to get citizenship in the country of their residence. Many of them come across hardship in improving their standard of life. Many representations were made by individuals, NGOs and Social service organizations to the authorities at different levels. Indian government also initiated some steps to overcome these issues.

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Most Indians leaving to Gulf for green pastures are laborers, semi-skilled workers and blue collared employees. They are very much prone to exploitation by the agents at the recruitment stage itself. To curb the ill deeds of these agents, the Indian government has made amendments in the Emigration Act 1983 by Gazette Notification in July 2009. “Emigration (Amendment) Rules 2009” stipulates several conditions on the recruitment agents. Clause 5 of the 1983 Act says that the recruiting agent represents the employer through power of attorney for the period of validity of registration of recruiting agent. The 2009 amendment extended the validity of this power of attorney for the period of employment contract of the recruited worker even if the certificate of registration of such recruiting agent ceases to be valid before that period. The clause “Registration of Recruiting Agent” in the old Act is replaced by “Application of registration as recruiting agent.” As per the amendment any person intending to engage in India in the business of recruitment should possess a Bachelors degree or two year diploma or equivalent from recognized university or institute. The applicant should provide a bank guarantee of thirteen years validity for an amount of twenty lakh rupees as security. The amendment also mandates that the holder of permit shall provide details of employment, including contract conditions to the intending emigrant before recruitment, ensure proper reception of the emigrant in the country of employment, ensure that subsequent to the employment employer shall not alter the contract of employment, ensure timely action for renewal of documents authorizing stay of emigrant in the country of employment, not deprive the emigrant of the custody of his travel and employment documents, ensure

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advertisement for the genuineness of the employers in respect of recruitment before it is released and shall refrain from any inducement or misrepresentation in this regard, file copies of all advertisements for recruitment to the Protector General of Emigrations immediately after their publication or release. It also mandates to provide insurance policy providing insurance cover for the intending emigrant for the period of employment contract. The 2009 amendments to the 1983 Act was intended to put more curbs on the recruiting agents. New Immigration Management Bill is expected to resolve the major issues raised by NRI leaders from time to time. The proposed eMigrate project will streamline the emigration process and it will help digitize all information of emigrants. It is also expected to put an end to the harassment by the emigration officials at the airports. Once the draft of the proposed new Immigration Management Bill is tabled in the parliament and common citizens are given access to it, then only it can be discussed and commented. At this stage we could just hope that the proposed bill will address the major issues of the expatriates and relieve them from common problems. It is not yet announced when the bill will be introduced in the parliament. The Indians in Gulf countries will wait for it to look up to what extent their grievances are addressed.

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Six years cap on expatriates in Saudi Arabia After the announcement of proposed „six years cap on expatriates‟ and subsequent announcement of „Nitaqat‟ program, there is a lot of hue and cry among the expatriate communities in the Kingdom during the last few weeks. Be it a social gathering, cultural event or internet forum, expatriates are discussing on this issue only. Everyone is eager to know whether his company is in green or red category. Rumors added more fuel to this. An email circulated on the internet forums of expatriates; claiming that the vacation bound expatriates of companies under red category are being stamped “exit only” visa by immigration sleuths at airports. The rumors raised so unrest that the authorities refuted the rumors through newspapers. The whole issue stirred up with the statement of Labor Minister in Arabic daily that his Ministry is considering putting six years cap on the stay of expatriates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Later on, it was disclosed that the private companies will be classified into four categories red, yellow, green and excellent; based on the percentage of Saudi employees. The non-complying companies were given a deadline of 7 September 2011 to implement the prescribed quota of Saudis. The Ministry has prescribed different percentage of Saudi employees for different sectors. Issuing the phased plan of implementing Saudization through Nitaqat program, Ministry of labor said the implementation on the first phase of the program started on June 11. In this initial phase companies will be classified in red, green or

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yellow category based on number of Saudi employees. Three months period will be given to erring companies to improve their Saudization status. The second phase of implementation will begin on Sept. 10, when companies meeting required Saudization quotas will start enjoying a number of special benefits. The Ministry of Labor will start implementing the third phase of the Nitaqat system from Nov. 26 (Corresponding to the beginning of new Islamic year). In this phase punitive measures will be taken against those companies in the “redâ€? category at the end of a six-month grace period extended to them. The companies in the yellow category are given nine months grace period to improve number of Saudis. From the first day of Rabi Al-Thani (Feb 23) next year, when nine month grace period comes to end, punitive measures will be initiated against those companies not fulfilling Saudization requirements. Saudi government is concerned about its youth who makes a majority of its population. Among its total population of 27.6 Million people, more than 7 Million are expatriates which according to 2007 report by the Riyadh Economic Forum, expatriates accounted for 76 percent of the countryâ€&#x;s total workforce. 70 percent of Saudis are under the age of 30. To pave the way for Saudization and to tackle imbalance in its workforce, the Saudi government decided in 2003 to reduce its expatriate workforce by more than half in ten years. The decision was aimed at reducing the number of expatriates to around 4 million, nearly half of what it was in 2003.

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Later, the government announced plans to create about a million jobs for Saudis by 2010 through a combination of Saudization and the creation of new jobs. Accordingly, the government reserved some job categories for Saudis. The reserved jobs included the categories like administration, Secretaries, Receptionists, Telephone Operators, Cashiers, Sales Personnel and Public Relations Personnel. The Saudization of the gold and jewelers shops, as well as travel industry were largely successful, others were not. It was declared in 2002 that within six months all expatriate taxi drivers would be replaced by nationals. However, the proposal did not make headway. Around five years ago there was a proposal to put six year cap on all expatriates in the six GCC countries. The announcement of Nitaqat program again reopens this debate. With the rapid growth of population, all the GCC countries have the same problem in front of them. These countries are taking different steps to increase job opportunities for their nationals. Tougher recruitment conditions, deporting surplus expatriate workers and making renewal of residence permits more difficult are some of these steps. The Saudi announcement to put six years cap on expat workforce sent brief shiver to expat population, not only in Saudi Arabia but other Gulf countries also. Amidst the fear of other GCC countries following the suite, Kuwait made the similar announcement. Quoting the sources, Annahar daily reported that the government will suggest imposing a cap of six years on unskilled laborers, eight years on semi-skilled employees, ten years on semi-skilled employees who are with their families and 12 years on skilled employees. Foreigners with rare expertise will be given an open stay.

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Qatar authorities were reported as saying that “we values expatriate workforce and has no plans to emulate Saudi Arabia‟s example and pack off long-staying foreign workers”. In August 2009 Bahrain announced to switch over from the kafala (sponsorship) system bringing all the expatriates under the sponsorship of Labor ministry. The government of Bahrain declared that reforming the sponsorship system was aimed at cutting out middlemen, encouraged mobility of workforce and helped effective monitoring of workers‟ rights. Up to what extent Indian expatriates will be affected by Nitaqat, it will be known only after the completion of grace period given to erring companies. Experts feel that Indians will be last among the expatriate population to effect from this. To accommodate Saudis, first those jobs will be targeted which can be easily taken over by Saudis. Naturally, Saudis will be more comfortable in jobs which require minimal English conversation, oral and written. If this theory is believed then Indians will be safe at the initial stage. But the real picture will be clear only when the grace period comes to end.

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Reverse brain drain begins as more NRIs settle down in India After facing almost two decades of brain drain, the much developed India is now attracting its brilliant minds to return back and settle down. After spending years in foreign lands many NRI professionals are flocking back to get their share in Indiaâ€&#x;s progress and development. This reverse brain drain is a sign of global recognition of potential which India offers to the professionals. The economic boom in India is attracting the best talent to come back. The surveys conducted by different organizations have revealed that many NRIs are interested to return India for good and permanently settle down there. Result of various surveys revealed that the trend of NRIs returning home started and continuously picking up. According to a global survey by Heidrick and Struggles, in 2010 around 60,000 Indian professionals returned to India from different parts of world to permanently settle down. Early this April, Corp-Corp conducted a survey among Indian IT professionals. More than half of over a thousand respondents were planning to return to India. The primary reason for returning that showed up in the survey was rejoining family in India. Some 26 percent said their reason for returning was better opportunities available now and around 10 percent said they would take the step for the sake of better education of their children. The leading online job portal Monster.com has recently launched a new website Return2Home to attract the NRI professionals returning back home. The site would mainly

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target NRI job seekers from the foreign countries like USA, UK, Canada, Middle East and South East Asia. Monster.com monitored its traffic for the year 2010 and its analysis revealed about 65% growth of visitors from foreign countries seeking jobs in India. 74% of the respondents to their online survey were planning to return to India eventually or have already done so. Grabbing the indication of rising interest of NRIs in their homeland, Monster launched a job portal totally dedicated to them. With thousands of national and multinational companies using India as a facilitator for expansion into the global economy, the country has acquired an image of a new global player on the world stage. These companies enjoy a business presence spanning diverse clusters from IT, healthcare, automobiles, telecommunications, hospitality and construction to education, logistics, manufacturing etc, and are known to create a massive number of jobs. The trend of NRIs coming back can be attributed to emerging opportunities for them. In past it was thought that the companies prefer fresh graduates as they will be more energetic and hence contribute more. Now the trend has changed and many companies tend to hire returning NRIs. The survey of 237 employers and 690 recruitment consultants was conducted by MyHiringClub.com website. All the surveyed companies and consultants are associated with the website. They included 14 industry sectors across seven Indian cities. Top management of the surveyed companies queried about their intentions to hire NRI professionals in present quarter vis-a-vis the last year and their views about the whole year. Based on the survey MyHiringClub.com said

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a lot of high value NRI professional recruitment is likely to take place in this year and in the coming few years. Companies in India, both national and Multi National, are looking forward to hiring more talent to meet their growing demands. They are offering benefits and perks to ensure that the lives of their employees are as satisfying as their work. After hiring employees their retention has become an important part of the HR professionals. Many foreign businesses that are planning to setup their business in India are looking for Indian expatriates as they value their experience in the international business. Placed on the senior positions, returning expatriates will manage such businesses in India successfully. Now with several surveys predicting spree of hiring during the current and coming years, those Indian expatriates who are planning to pack up for India will definitely benefit from this.

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Hindu Maulvis seek jobs in Gulf countries Among the Indians living in the Gulf countries, how many Muslims were able to communicate in Arabic when they first arrived here? Before travelling to the western countries like USA, UK, Australia etc the people take utmost care to improve their communicative English but communicating in the language of the host country was not given due importance by us, especially when it comes to the Gulf countries. Beside learning Arabic language Madarsa education is taken for a ride by many. The basic Islamic teachings and learning the method of prayer at a part time Madarsa at the nearby mosque is quite enough for many but Brahmins are now becoming Moulvis and may also become Alim in near future. Among Indian Muslims, Teaching, preaching and leading prayers (Imamat) are considered as the only career options for the students who pass out from Madarsas. It is commonly believed that Madarsa education does not help students in shaping prosperous career. In an era of sophisticated institutions of higher learning, where a lot of Muslims compete with each other to get professional degrees from one of the leading institutions, a trend have emerged among the Non-Muslims to take up courses of higher learning from Madarsas. Even tough there are some examples of successful professionals in different fields with Madarsa background; very few take Madarsa education as a route for their career.

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Most of the Indians in the Gulf countries learned the Arabic language at their work place in the host country. It may sound odd for the readers but it is the fact that the trend of getting higher education through Madarsas is gaining popularity among children of Hindus and other communities. They consider it an easy alternate of regular university education to get the degrees. They want to pass out Moulvi and Alim courses and seek greener pastures in Arab lands. One of the pass out from a Madarsa in Bihar is now called Moulvi Sanjay who has passed the Moulvi examination with 893 marks out of 1000. He is the topper among sixteen non-Muslim students who appeared for the examination. What is there in Madarsas which is attracting non-Muslims? Revamped education system, modernized courses, hassle free admission procedures, nominal fee structure are some key factors which are attracting Hindus and others towards Madarsas. The most astonishing revelation is that plenty of job opportunities in the Gulf countries are regarded as one of the main factors which attract these non-Muslims to Madarsas. While some others think that Madarsa education will be helpful for them in obtaining jobs at the Embassies of Arab countries. The astonishing facts and figures about this trend have been revealed with the declaration of Bihar State Madarsa Board results. Forty Non-Muslims students passed the Fauqania (10th standard) examination while sixteen students cleared Moulvi (12th Standard) examinations. Many of these students have a target to obtain degree of Alim which is equivalent to BA.

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Other than job opportunities in the Gulf countries, these Hindu boys and girls are eyeing for the posts of Urdu teachers at government schools which they think can be achieved easily compared to other jobs. Sanjay Kumar has secured the top position in Moulvi examination by securing 893 marks out of 1000 whereas Anjali Raj topped among girls with 805 marks. Madarsa Board officials say non-Muslims, particularly upper caste Brahmins in the Mithilanchal region of north Bihar, are keen on sending their children to Madarsas to learn Arabic, Persian, Islamic traditions along with other modern subjects with an eye on jobs in the Gulf and in the embassies of Muslim countries. The enrolment of Hindus at Madarsas is increasing. Maulana Ajaj Ahmad, chairman of the Madarsa Education Board of Bihar, was quoted as saying to an agency “Non-Muslims, particularly Hindu boys and girls in large numbers, are studying in different Madarsas across the state. It is a positive development as their enrolment is increasing every year.” The trend began about a decade ago. According to the reports, Bihar has over 4,000 Madarsas, including 1,127 state-run Islamic schools where students are provided free books and mid-day meals. “After a few Hindu students passed from the seminaries, they propagated our humane approach. In fact, we are not teaching anything against any religion or anything anti-national as claimed by some vested interests to defame us,” Ahmad said. Under the modernization scheme, the course was revised to keep it in tune with the curriculum prescribed by the Bihar School Examination Board and the Central Board of

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Secondary Education. “Now we teach all the modern subjects, including the sciences, social science, mathematics,� Ahmad said. For the Muslims there are many reasons for opting Madarsa education, top among them is that we need to learn the language of Quran to understand it. We the Muslims kept our children away from Madarsa for the sake of their prosperous future while non-Muslims now prefer it over modern colleges. Madarsa education never creates a hurdle in the career path of a student. Modernized education system which couples the Islamic and modern education should be encouraged by Muslims. In India, many modern schools have already adopted Islamic studies as part of their regular curriculum. The trend is gaining popularity. On the other hand, Madarsas should also modernize their education system and include the syllabus prescribed the CBSE and state boards. Madarsas allover India should follow the footsteps of Bihar where all the modern subjects are taught.

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RTI Act and Indians living abroad Can you get a Demand Draft (DD) or Cheque from any bank in the Kingdom for an amount of One Riyal or less? Most probably the bank‟s counter staff will laugh on you or they simply refuse to serve you. But that is what exactly you need to get towards the application fee if you want to seek any information from the Embassy of India in Riyadh under the Right to Information Act. All the Indians living in foreign countries can apply for the information under RTI Act but they have to submit the application with the fee in local currency equivalent to INR 10. Accordingly, the advisory for the information seekers on the web site of the Indian Embassy goes like this… “applications seeking information under the Act may be sent along with the prescribed fee in Saudi Riyals, equivalent to Indian Rs.10/-, in Cheque or demand draft favoring Embassy of India, Riyadh. If you need to seek any information under RTI Act you need to get the DD or Cheque for an amount of something around eighty five halalas!!! The Indian citizens were empowered with the strong RTI Act in 2005 which can be used to seek information from any public office. Initially it was implemented in India only. Later on, in 2009 the Central Information Commission has framed new rules to ease RTI applications from abroad enabling Indians living in foreign countries to pay application fee and information cost in local currencies at the Indian embassies. It mandates the

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applicant to pay the fee in local currency equivalent to Indian Rs. 10. As it is almost impossible to get the cheque or DD from any bank for this small amount, it is not possible for the Indians living in many foreign countries to use the Right to Information Act. However those NRIs who desperately need information have found some alternative ways of applying for information, normally through their friends in India. The other option is to apply for the information at the concerned public office in India during their vacation. If some one decides to go through the cumbersome process of obtaining DD or Cheque from the bank, many queries filed abroad at the Indian high commissions and embassies were simply rejected with advice to address the application directly to the concerned authorities in India. While rejecting the application for information from any department in India, the Indian Missions refer to Sec 6 (1) of the RTI Act of 2005, which says, a person who desires to obtain information under the Act is required to submit the application to the Information Officer of the “concerned public authority”. Hence the web site of Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia advises the information seekers to send their requests under the RTI Act to the Embassy only when the subject matter can reasonably be presumed to pertain to the Embassy. While section 6(3) of the Act says “where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information (i) which is held by another public authority or (ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority to which the application is made, shall transfer the application or such part

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of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer”. This clause further says “provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application”. In view of the above section of the RTI Act, the advise of Indian Embassy in Riyadh to send the requests only when the subject matter can reasonably be presumed to pertain to the Embassy, raises a big question, whether the embassy officials want to get away from the process of forwarding the applications to the concerned departments in India. A major breakthrough in the usage of RTI Act for the welfare of Indians in the Gulf countries came from Kamaruddin Valiyavalappil, who filed an application under the RTI Act to find out about the exact number of overseas Indians and the state of their welfare. When the concerned authorities failed to provide him the required information in six months, he approached the Kerala High Court which ordered the concerned authorities to furnish the information within six months, which Kamaruddin alleges was never acted upon. It forced him to sue them in the Kerala High Court. Before approaching the Court, he also wrote to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but found no response. The law suit calls for action against the Indian Government, represented by the Foreign Secretary, Kerala State Government represented by Chief Secretary, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, and other concerned officials, who according to him, have not responded to the Kerala High Court‟s directive to provide him vital information that he requested as per the Right to Information Act. “Since they are supposed to give details to an Indian citizen, I

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approached the Kerala High Court. I have been spending part of my regular salary to fight this legal battle, which is for the welfare of my fellow overseas Indians,� he was quoted as saying. The RTI Act for Indians living in foreign countries should be made more practicable so that they can easily benefit from it. The move of the Central Information Commission enabling Indians in foreign countries to use the Act is laudable but the fact remains valid that it is practically impossible for many to use it. Accordingly proper steps should be initiated by the Central Information Commission to make it more practicable. One of the solutions could be that the prescribed fee can be paid in local currency in cash as it will be almost impossible for many to get Demand Draft or Cheque in local currency for the amount equivalent to Indian Rs. 10.

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Passport in three days from next year Recently it was reported in Saudi Arabian newspapers that most of the Indian families prefer to have their babies born in the Kingdom rather than in India, because of the long time to get the passport issued for the newborns and the risk of the expiry of mothers exit re-entry visa. There is ray of hope for those Indian families in the Kingdom who were hesitant to send their families to India for child birth. If the Ministry of Overseas Indians is to be believed, all the applicants will receive their passports in just three days from 2012. The experience of long wait in exhausting queues at the passport offices makes this announcement hard to believe for many, but the officials are confident to offer the superior service of “passport delivery in three days” with the implementation of an ambitious e-governance program “Passport Seva Project”. It will do away the long queues forcing passport applicants to wait endlessly in front of the Regional Passport Office to submit applications. Under this scheme 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) are to be set up across the country in addition to the existing 37 passport offices. Once the PSKs become functional, the existing passport offices will function as back-up centers. The government signed the agreement with software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in 2008 to set up the Passport Seva Project, a public private initiative to improve the passport services in India. The project aims, among other objectives, to issue a new passport within three days and shorten queue time.

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The setting up of Passport Seva Kendras started in June 2011 in Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. In Andhra Pradesh as many as seven Passport Seva Kendras will be set up which include three in Hyderabad and one each in Vijayawada, Nizamabad, Tirupati and Vizag. In addition to this one mini-PSK in Karimnagar will be set up which will function under the jurisdiction of the Regional Passport Office. All the PSKs are expected to start functioning by the end of October and will be fully operational and ready to serve passport applicants with the beginning of the year 2012. The other institutions which are required for the smooth functioning of the project like data center and disaster recovery center are already in place. The software application developed by the TCS to drive the project received its certification by a third party audit agency under the department of Information Technology in January 2011. The increasing demand for passport by Indian citizens is the main reason for launching of this project. In the last few years the number of new passports issued has been increased by 20 percent every year. The highest numbers of 5.52 million passports were issued in 2010 alone. The first PSK in Andhra Pradesh was inaugurated in the first week of August at Vishakhapatnam. It is the 13th center in the country. Mr. Muktesh Kumar Pardesi, the Joint Secretary and the Chief Passport Officer in the Ministry of External Affairs, who inaugurated it, said the e-governance project was being implemented in the country in association with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to pave the way for hasslefree and transparent issue of passports, eliminating middlemen and touts. Procedures had been simplified even for a common man to get a passport easily.

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He said there were at present 37 passport offices in the country, including the one at Visakhapatnam, but they were not able to cope with the work pressure in view of the everincreasing number of passport applicants. Therefore, in the public-private partnership mode, the Ministry of External Affairs had introduced the PSK project in association with TCS. The first PSK was set up in Bangalore, in 2010, and the remaining would be opened in phases. With the introduction of digital signatures and biometric features, the established PSKs had so far processed over seven lakh passport applications. According to Rejesh Dogra, the head of Passport, TCS on an aggregate each PSK was processing around 4500 passport applications every day. There was also a fully functional call centre and the passport applicants can obtain answers in five languages, including Telugu, to their queries on the status of the application. On the occasion of opening first PSK in the state, executives of all the concerned departments promised to cooperate and improve their services. Mr. J.V. Poornachandra Rao, Commissioner of Police, Vizag, promised that the police verification procedures would also be expedited and made hassle-free to make it easier for the passport seekers. Mr. Chandra Prakash, Post Master-General, Vizag region, promised that the passports would be delivered quickly. A large number of people from the state particularly students travel to foreign countries for higher studies and employment. In addition to this a considerable number of youth visit the Gulf and Arabian countries on work permits. In view of this, there is a constant flow of passport seekers who throng to the

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Regional Passport Office. Due to the heavy rush and long queues the services of the RPO at Hyderabad is often found falling short of the requirement in view of the heavy work load. The concerned authorities are claiming that the PSKs will overcome the difficulties presently being faced by the citizens and the processing of passport application would be eased. They are also hopeful that the new system would go a long way in solving the problems of the people to a considerable extent. But it will be known how efficient and effective the PSKs, only when all the centers become operational. We wish and hope that the promise of issuing the passport in three days will be fulfilled and the processing of passport application would become hassle free in the year 2012. Then the Indians in Saudi Arabia does not face any problem to send their families to India for delivering babies when the passports will be issued in just three days. Letâ€&#x;s hope for this dream to come true.

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Money lending by Hawala operators effecting Indian laborers We have already mentioned about the pathetic living conditions of the poor Indian labors and blue collar employees in the Gulf countries. We have also mentioned in this column that most of these workers live under pathetic and pitiable conditions. The poor economic and financial condition of these workers in Gulf countries was revealed in the recently published news stories about the emerging trend of Reverse Hawala. According to these reports the Indian workers in the Gulf countries are facing such a hard time that instead of sending remittances to their families, many of them are forced to seek financial support from their families and friends back home, in India. Their families and friends are sending them money from India to ensure their survival. The shocking trend of Reverse Hawala is another indicator of pitiable condition of the Indian labors and blue collar employees in the Gulf countries. The Enforcement Directorate, which monitors the inflow of money by Indian migrants through the illegal hawala system, noticed an increasing trend of Reverse Hawala this year. Their investigations revealed that a lot of money is being sent from Kerala to the Gulf countries where huge number of migrants from this state work as laborers. The investigation also revealed that the money being sent out of Kerala to the Gulf countries is more that the money coming from Gulf to the state. This trend is linked to the loan sharks operating in the Gulf countries who lend money to the Keralaite laborers in Gulf

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countries on the higher rates. The money is handed over to the laborer‟s dependents in India and the expatriate has to pay the interest to the hawala operator in the Gulf country on a daily basis, the regular payments should be made until the capital amount is paid fully. It is also reported that the money is lent by the hawala operator after getting the possession of expatriate‟s passport as security. In many cases, money can be lent in a Gulf country against the original documents of the immovable property, collected by their agent in India. The news reports quoting the police officials in Kerala indicates that this trend is increasing in the state. Recently a taxi driver of Riyadh Saleem was murdered by another taxi driver of the same city Sherif in Kerala. “Sherif, a taxi driver in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, had borrowed nearly Rs 75 lakh from Salim last year. He used the amount to run his own money lending operation to migrant workers in Riyadh” claimed the investigating officers. Reportedly the investigators are probing the conspiracy theory and whether more people are involved in hawala transactions. Stringent norms introduced by banks to grant loans particularly to low income group of NRIs are believed to be the reason for this trend. The lenders pay the money in India to the dependent of an expatriate through their agents in India. The money lent in the Indian currency is collected back in a foreign currency like Riyal, Dirham etc. The money should be returned in the agreed period, until then the interest should be paid regularly. The Reverse Hawala and illegal money lending business is reported to be flourishing in the Gulf countries, especially among the expatriates from Kerala. It is quite possible that such trend attracts expatriates from other states also. The financial problems are not limited to Keralaites only. In fact

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almost all the Indian expatriates need money for the diverse reasons. It is very common for Indian expatriates in Gulf where they need money to fulfill their financial commitments in India. Building own house or buying one, marriage of sister or daughter, brother or son getting admission in a professional college, illness of a family member etc. are some of the common reasons which can force any Indian expatriate to take loan. When one fails to get loan from his employer or a bank, he tries to get it from friends and relatives. If one fails to get loan from any of these sources, he is compelled to use the illegal methods which forces him to fall in prey hands of the agents of illegal operators who are always ready to attract such poor and needy people with false promises and big dreams. The murder of a taxi driver in Kerala leads to the revelation of the money lending racket of Keralaites in Riyadh. The possibility of similar rackets among other Indian communities in Gulf countries can not be ruled out. The Indian banks should come forward with more flexibility when it comes to granting loans to the lower income groups of NRIs. Special schemes should be framed for the Indian laborers and blue collar employees in the Gulf countries.

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Gulf returnees to have Insurance and Pension benefits in India Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has recently made an impressive announcement that Indian government will soon launch a scheme to provide resettlement assistance, insurance cover and pension benefits to the Indians returning from overseas jobs. "When the migrant worker returns to India, he is older and he has to start economic activity to support himself and his family. To support the workers, we have decided to launch the scheme," Vayalar Ravi said while addressing the fourth consultative meeting with state governments on issues relating to overseas Indian workers. The minister was quoted by media as saying that he was “especially worried about the people coming back from Gulf�. But the time will only prove how far he and his government are really worried about the welfare of the poor Indians in Gulf countries. This is not the first time that Vayalar Ravi talked about the welfare of the NRIs returning back from Gulf countries. During the sixth edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in New Delhi the Minister assured a gathering of Gulf NRIs that a scheme would be launched by the government to take care of their rehabilitation. Three years passed from then and three more editions of the PBD were passed but nothing has really done in this regard during this period. As tenth PBD is scheduled in January 2012 at Jaipur, we can only hope that the minister will take necessary steps to change his words in reality. Like all the previous editions,

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this edition is also expected to have more inclination towards attracting investments from NRIs and nothing for the welfare of the Indian contract workers in Gulf countries. If at all, what we can expect is, nothing more than some assurances and promises. And surely nothing concrete is going to happen. The NGOs of Indians in the Gulf countries as well as in India should press the government to take necessary steps in this regard. As the minister has announced his intention to launch a scheme for the welfare of returning NRIs, it should be launched before the next PBD. If the scheme is not launched by that time and the Indian migrants returning from Gulf countries are left in lurch with bleak future, then the PBD will become meaningless for the Indians in Gulf countries. This is the real time for the Indian government to prove that it really concerns about the welfare of its citizens in the Gulf countries. Many Indian workers in the Gulf countries are not happy due to many reasons. They are compelled to spend months away from their families. Many of them are forced to live in poor and unhygienic conditions. On their return to India they have to face many problems; major among them is obtaining a job. After spending many years in foreign land; they are regarded as over-aged for many jobs. Age bar becomes a major hindrance in their struggle for job hunting. If they get some sort of security like what Vayalar Ravi has said, then it will become a bit easy for them to settle down in their home land. Finally, letâ€&#x;s hope that the assurance given by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi will not remain as yet another announcement but real initiatives will be taken to provide succor to Indian expatriates returning back from Gulf countries.

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Limiting number of expats in GCC on cards After announcing the plan to put a six year cap on the stay of expatriates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced its plan to limit their number to 20% of the population. If this proposal comes effective, nearly 3 million expatriates have to leave the Kingdom. The Saudi population was 18.7 million at the end of 2010 while the kingdom hosts 8.42 million expatriates, amounting to 31% of the population. To achieve the target of cutting down the number of expatriates to 20% of the population, 2.9 million expatriates have to leave the Kingdom during the next few years. Announcement about this plan by Labor Minister came after a meeting of GCC labor ministers in Abu Dhabi. The meeting decided to step up their campaign to replace expatriate workers with qualified nationals. Labor Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel Fakieh was quoted by media that 90% of the private sector work force in the Kingdom was made up of foreign workers. The document of Labor Ministry about Nitaqat program there are nine foreigners for each Saudi in the private sector. According to Manpower Research 1430/2009, 448 thousand male and female Saudi nationals are unemployed while 8 million expatriates are employed in the Kingdom in various sectors. It includes 6 million expatriate workers in private sector. While, a report by the Riyadh Economic Forum said expatriates accounted for 76 percent of the countryâ€&#x;s total workforce in 2007.

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Prior to the announcement by Saudi Minister, it was reported that the Kuwait government is also working on plans to introduce residency cap on expatriates to slash their number to 45% of the total population. According to the media reports, the government will suggest imposing six years cap on unskilled laborers, eight years on semi skilled employees, ten years on semi skilled employees living with their families and twelve years on skilled employees. The foreigners with rare expertise will be given an opportunity to stay without any limit. According to the 2010 estimates, the number of foreign workers in Kuwait stands at 69% of the population. The decision of the Kuwait government came after the release of World Bank‟s report which revealed that Kuwait is the fourth largest host of foreign national vis-à-vis ratio of population. According to the report, Qatar tops the list with 87% of expatriates while Monaco and UAE follows the list with 72% and 70% expatriates respectively. Kuwait already implemented National Manpower Development Program, which started several years ago and enforces a law which requires private companies to have certain percentage of Kuwaitis. Similarly Saudi Arabia also implemented Nitaqat program to encourage private sector to employ more nationals. Bahrain is optimistic to propose six years cap on foreign nationals in all the GCC nations. Labor Minister of Bahrain Majeed Al Alawi hopes that the proposal in this regard will be adopted by all the GCC nations in December during their annual summit. According to the UAE based Political Analyst and author Dr. N. Janardhan, “the presence of some 17 million expatriates in the six GCC countries – about 70% of workforce – has

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profound social, political, economical and cultural implications. Due to demographic changes especially rapid population growth, there is now pressure on the GCC governments to accommodate nationals not only in the public, but in the private sector too.” According to him nearly 500,000 graduates are estimated to be unemployed in the six Gulf countries. The initiatives by the Saudi government are not new. Way back in 2003 it decided to reduce foreign workers in the Kingdom. The Interior Minister and Head of Manpower Council Price Naif Bin Abdulaziz announced in 2003 that three million expatriates were to be phased out from Saudi Arabia within a decade and the number of expatriates should not exceed 20% of Saudi population by 2013. According to book “The Saudi Arabian Economy, Policies and Challenges” by Mohamed A Ramady, the decision stipulated a quota system for foreign nationals among whom no single nationality should exceed 10% of total expatriates. Following the 2003 announcement, several job categories were reserved for Saudis. The positions like counter staff at the jewelry shops, cashiers at the markets, vegetable vendors, taxi drivers, Secretaries, Public Relation Officers etc. were reserved only for Saudis. The scheme did not succeed due to several reasons. But this time the labor ministry seems to be more aggressive in its efforts to create maximum job opportunities for the Saudi nationals. Under the Nitaqat program, the private companies with excellent Saudization record will benefit with more incentives. The non-compliant companies, falling under the red category will be punished for not employing adequate number of Saudi employees. The Labor Ministry announced that they‟ll stop renewing the work permits of employees in

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such companies. The grace period given to the companies in Red category ends by the end of the current Hijrah year corresponding to Nov. 25. In September the Ministry of Labor offered eight incentives to companies in excellent and green categories; including issuance of new recruitment visas with open professions on condition that they maintain the same status. These companies were also allowed to change professions of their expatriate workers to any professions except those jobs restricted by the Cabinet such as personnel manager, receptionist, liaison officer, official in charge of following matters at government departments, treasurer and security guard. These companies can also get foreign workers transferred from other companies without waiting for them to complete two years with the first sponsor. However, the company should remain in Premier category to get this benefit. Large numbers of expatriates are eager to know whether Nitaqat will affect their stay in the Kingdom. On the other hand, many are looking after to know up to what extent this program will help in reducing the number of expatriate workers. It will be too early to comment on the effectiveness and implications of this program. We need to wait for the outcome of GCC Labor Ministers meeting scheduled to be held in December.

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Views about the book

It is a very informative, innovative, inquisitive & solutionfocused book. Moving appealing analysis of every tick and beat of NRI hearts will avoid "Band-Aid" approaches. Spreading education and awareness will lead to fallout of "loving cooperating goodness". Dr. Majid Kazi, Royal Physician, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia It provides a good food of thought, knowledge and practical advice to those who nervously enter in Saudi society. The book certainly helps ease the cultural shock. It also relates the dual face of the expat’s dream, which is as bright and shining as it is dark and treacherous. Mrs. Sameera Aziz, International Editor, Saudi Gazette Daily, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia It is a timely and useful publication for bringing to the government’s notice many issues missed out by the Indian press. How information gap on the rules and regulations in those countries could prove costly in Gulf aspirant’s job hunt is the theme of the book. Mr. Javid Hasan, Editor Yahind.com, Bangalore Expat Ride represents maiden attempt on author’s part to address various concerns among Gulf returnees as well as expatriates. His long stay in the Kingdom, journalistic experience back home, keen observation, and ability to read between the lines, combine to make “Expat Ride” a roller coaster ride. Mr. Syed Zia Ur Rahman, CEO Yahind.com, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Yahind News Network Hyderabad, Bangalore, Riyadh

Price Rs. 150/-

Expat Ride  

Expat Ride is a collection of articles about the problems on Indian expatriates in Gulf countries, written by Mohammed Saifuddin and publish...

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