Sunday, August 17, 2008

For a Few Dinars More

What do you feel when you read this sad news?

An Indian manager is on his way from Dammam, Saudi Arabia to Bangalore, India via Bahrain. He checks in at the Bahrain airport. Refuses to give his details to Immigrations. Looks around the officials strangely. Refuses to go up the escalater on to the plane. Starts making weird noises and gestures. Starts sucking his thumb. Begins to act like a child.

Simply put, he has a nervous breakdown. And is admitted to the Psychiatric Hospital.

(Its actually a complicated situation because he has already checked in. And he is not a Bahrain resident. But somehow the officials were working around)

The following information can give us some insight into the background

The 24-year-old had worked as a manager for a manpower supply company in Ras Tanura, near Dammam, for more than a year.

Sources claimed that his sponsor had cancelled his visa and he was being sent back home without his contract being renewed.

"He was reportedly depressed because he was blamed for an accident involving a company car and was threatened to pay BD5,700 compensation," said the sources.

"He began to show worrying signs of depression. Members of a Dammam social group, Navodaya, learned about his plight and helped admit him to a private clinic.

"Due to intervention of Saudi authorities, the sponsor agreed to cancel his visa and send him home at the company's expense."


Obviously, he was shaken at the loss of job, and probably didn't know what to do, or what to tell his folks back home. He may be feeling he has been wronged. Or that he was being blamed for a fault that wasn't his. He came to earn. And he is going midway, with no renewal.

We are not fully aware of the whole story, but I have a few questions and thoughts on this. Specially, with regard to the accident. Wouldn't a company car be covered by insurance? Why would an employee be asked to pay BD5700 (that's a whopping 6 lakh rupees)? Where would he get it from?

Well, there could be reasons. Like, either the company car was not insured or its insurance not renewed. Or alternately, the person driving was not licenced to drive. If its the first case, its definitely the company's fault. If its the second case, I wonder how he got to driving it.

Whatever the reasons, I feel it is the story of a man who's been accused and abused. It is not of a person with a weak mind, or of a person with no courage. Because, I assume we can credit a worker called as a 'manager', with atleast a bit of common sense.

So, I smell something fishy. And I fell terribly sad. For the way foreign workers are treated. And for the way they are made to feel stressed and depressed. In fact, to the point of making the worker insane!

It is a well known fact that many indians come to Gulf for just a few dinars (or a few riyals more). Hoping that jobs here would get them more than what they would get in India.

Well, not just indians, but filipinos, pakistanis, bangladeshis, srilankans, ethiopians, sudanese, lebanese, jordanians and a host of other nationalities also come here.

It is common knowledge - when you look at many countries today - that the overall growth of a national economy is largely dependent on migrant workers, and sometimes immigrants' toil. When there is a shortage of labour locally (or when there is a lack of expertise or skill locally), it has become imperative for countries to import the same from outside.

Even the great USA is made up of migrant workers and immigrant labour, over the years. We see Canada, Australia, NewZealand are actively seeking immigrants, and they are eager to take them in, for the knowledge and the skill the prospective immigrant is useful for the country.

When you consider geographic mobility over the centuries, shouldn't we ask questiions like these? Did mankind just pop up in diffrent places, at random, and bred generations? Did people stay stuck to their own lands without moving at all? Did countries get formed only by themselves without people coming in or moving out?

In a way, what I am asking is, aren't all countries, made up by labour in motion?

So why disregard people?


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