It is a fact that despite 5-7 million Indians working in Gulf countries, there is not enough focus in India on either their contribution to our economy or their problems.
For the record, the number of Indians in West Asian countries is at least four times the number of NRIs in America. Mohammed Saifuddin's book Expat Ride sheds light on the issues pertaining to Indians in Gulf.
Contrary to the belief that every person who goes to Gulf, manages to make moolah, it tells us how large number of people fail to save adequate money.
The semi-skilled workers face pathetic conditions, work hard by spending more hours in duty but don't get as much return for their efforts. From facing extreme weather and psychological issues due to living away from families, the book tells a lot about the situation on the ground.
The book tells us about challenges faced by expatriates in getting good education to their children. That they have to pay exorbitant fees to get admission in colleges in India and the quota initiated by AB Vajpayee-led BJP government remains limited to just a few educational institutions in India.
Saifuddin also touches the issue of taxes apart from exploitation by money-lenders and depression among Indians working in the region. As many as 70% of those who commit suicide in Dubai, are Indians! This is a shocker for everybody.
The author suggests that India should conduct surveys and take more steps to redress the issues of expatriate community. Another myth is busted in the book. Muslims are not favoured in Gulf countries. In fact, in key positions non-Muslims outnumber Muslims.
These things need to be taken up on priority. It is true that Indian newspapers and Television channels seldom pay attention to these important aspects which affect a large number of people.
But when it comes to sudden disappearance or crime against an NRI in America or Britain, our media forgets all sense of proportion and lap it up, showing it for hours.
But there is no such interest visible in Gulf. This is despite the enormous regular contribution in terms of remittances--sending money back home on regular basis, that runs millions of households in India.
Saifuddin, who hails from Hyderabad, has over the years penned articles for Yahind.com portal. The book comprises these articles. One hopes that the book would draw the attention of policy makers towards Indian expatriates in the GCC countries--United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabic, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.