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Monday, Dec 06, 2021
Outlook.com
gulf states: jobs

The Next Flight Home

The death of the Gulf boom could prove to be a socio-economic crisis for some states

The Next Flight Home
The Next Flight Home
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The ‘land of black gold and paved dreams’ is one image that’s really cracking up today. Jobs in the Gulf countries, particularly the UAE, have begun to dry up, souring dreams across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and parts of UP. There are about 30 lakh expat Indian workers in the Gulf and, going by tentative estimates, close to eight lakh of them face retrenchment and may have to return home in the next few months. Kerala will be one of the worst hit. State finance minister T.M. Thomas Isaac is already in doomsday mode: "I think up to five lakh Keralites in the Gulf will lose their jobs because of the global meltdown. We expect 2-5 lakh of our people to return by June this year. We do not have accurate numbers on those who already lost their jobs. The Centre for Development Studies estimates it at two lakh. It will be difficult for the state to tackle the situation alone... the Centre should come out with a special scheme for foreign returnees."

In faraway Punjab, the Gulf meltdown has already had a trickledown effect on local businesses like taxi services, travel agencies and the construction business. Business is down by 50 per cent because no one is travelling within the state. Neither are they going back to their jobs abroad. Even investments for low income housing have come down. While the rich NRIs are in the West, Punjab has a fair share of unskilled/semi-skilled workers in the Gulf. Says Jasvir Singh, a carpenter from Mahil Gehlan village near Jalandhar: "The construction boom is over, companies have closed down, the banks do not have money and people like us are out of work." He returned after working with a construction company in Sharjah for 12 years. "Around 18-20 men have returned in my village alone. Most of us are daily-wagers now," he adds.

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