Arunodhaya Migrant Initiatives

Migration – A World Wide Phenomenon
Migration is considered one of the defining global issues of the early twenty-first century, as more and more people are on the move today than at any other point in human history.The UN Secretary General’s Report (2006) entitled ‘International Migration and Development’ highlights the increasing incidence of labour migration and calls for global policy dialogue to address the issues posed for sending, transit and receiving countries. According to the report, the number of International migrants was estimated at 191 million in 2005, with 115 million living in industrialized countries and 26 million living in developing countries. It is clear that the search for employment is a major cause of migration flows. There are now about 192 million people living outside their place of birth, which is about three per cent of the world’s population. Indian diaspora, estimated at 25 million and spread over 110 countries across the globe, is an important player in this process.

Labour Migration – Trends in India
In the year 2006, 676,952 people emigrated from India intending to get employment opportunities in foreign countries. Three-fourth of them were migrated from four southern states (Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andrapradesh) of India, where the human development indicators are better when compared to other parts of India.

Millions of Indians work overseas, particularly in the six oil-rich Gulf Arab countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. As many as six million Indian expatriates send home 20 billion dollars a year from Gulf States. But reports abound that the migrants are mistreated, according to workers’ associations and human rights groups. “Reports of foreign women working in domestic positions being beaten or sexually abused by their employers and recruiting agents were common (in 2006),” said a US State Department report on Bahrain, where 130,000 Indians work.

In a November 2006 report on migrants in the UAE, Human Rights Watch emphasized that the 95 percent of private sector workers who are migrants earn far less than the average salary of UAE citizens, $2,100 month. There are about 100,000 Indian migrants in Kuwait, and in February 2000, India banned its citizens from going to Kuwait to work as maids, saying that the maids “did not receive proper treatment from either the Indian or Kuwaiti agents… Domestic workers seeking fresh residency permits in Kuwait will not get immigration clearance for the time being. Those with valid residency visas, however, can come and go as they please.”

The number of Indians in the Gulf is estimated to be about four million. In Kuwait, 48 percent of the Indians were working in the unorganized sector (43 percent in Saudi Arabia). According to information received from Indian missions in the Gulf, there were 1,116 Indian prisoners in Saudi Arabia, 825 in the United Arab Emirates, 111 in Kuwait, 86 in Bahrain and 32 in Qatar. India is one of the largest sending countries in Asia.

India is not a signatory to the Convention on Migrants (1990)