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8 Jun 2022

Gulf: Concern over livelihoods of Indian migrant workers as BJP's latest anti-Muslim remarks jeopardises India's economic ties in the region

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Recent anti-Muslim remarks by India's ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) have angered a number of Islamic countries, and compelled countries like Qatar and Kuwait to summon Indian ambassadors in their countries, while Saudi Arabia and UAE condemned the remarks.

Beyond the diplomatic impact, experts forecast this could have an impact on trade as half of India's remittances come from the Gulf. Some 8.5 million Indians are employed in different sectors in the West Asia region.

Some workers in the Gulf have already reported backlash, as they have faced discrimination and were labelled as "problematic", and it is expected that employment opportunities for Indians might be harmed in response to BJP's comments. India is trying to salvage this issue, as officials reassured the Gulf that Indian workers in the region are not complicit.

"As COVID-19 cases are down, many have started going back [to West Asia] in search of jobs. Such comments will irk employers and this could affect the chances of Indian migrants. We must remember than Indians are competing with migrants from other Asian countries for what is a limited pool of jobs,”
Rafeek Ravuther, Kerala-based migrant rights activist