Reality of Gulf dreams

Himanshu Shekhar

Shabbir Ahmed is a resident of a small village of Sherghati, Bihar. Three years ago, he was leaving his native place and family for Dammam, one of the gulf countries. At that time, he was having a number of dreams in his eyes. He thought that after landing to Saudi Arabia, he will earn enough money to make his dreams come true and he would provide required facility to his family members. Shabbir didn’t get quality education because of the economic condition of his family but he thought, by the help of Dammam’s earning he will be able to give quality education to his children. Once he lands to his dream land, he finds the situation quite different. The worst working conditions killed his very dream. He came back to India last February with a resolution; he will never go back to Gulf countries.

Shabbir is not the only one, who feels trapped after reaching to his land of dreams. This number is too big. He shares his experience, ‘I was forced to work in inhuman working conditions. Once, you reach there, your employer will seize your passport and this is the beginning of this never ending exploitation.’ Shabbir was working as an electrician in Dammam. In Indian currency, he was getting a monthly salary of Rs. 12,000. He said, ‘In Gulf nations, workers earn extra money through over time.’

Companies have very uncommon arrangements for fooding and lodging of workers like Shabbir. He was working with a Nashir-Al-Haji company, which has the production unit in the city, but lodging arrangements for its workers are 60 km away from this unit in a forest. He said, ‘The Company has constructed a building in the forests and from there company van picks up every worker in morning and drops in the evening. They force 8-10 people to live in a very small room.’

In Shabbir words, local companies and authorities have no respect to even to the fundamental rights of a worker. In India, everyone is at liberty to follow the rituals of his/her religion but the same is not true in the case of Gulf nations. Shabbir said, ‘If any idol of the Hindu god or goddess is seen in the room of any Hindu worker, then he will be punished.’ He says, ‘If company or local administration finds someone doing other work at the time of Namaz, then that person would be punished.’ Just because of these religious obligations, there in no meaning of any festival at least for Hindu workers.

The question is why people work in these inhuman working conditions? Shabbir answers, ‘The main reason is money and secondly most of workers find themselves in a trap after reaching there, just because they sign a limited period contract with concerned company and in that condition they can’t escape. Workers are forced to sign on this kind of agreement because most of companies don’t give employment without doing so.’

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