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Govt comes to aid of workers in Jeddah ( Adapted from The Hindu, Relevant for GS Mains Paper II, Topic : Rescue missions abroad)

Indian workers in distress
The government has moved to help hundreds of Indian workers laid off by Saudi infrastructure company, Saudi Oger Ltd in Jeddah, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj organising food and monitoring their welfare “on an hourly basis”. Even as officials warned that the numbers of Indians in distress could rise dramatically, Ms Swaraj later said “The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over ten thousand. It is not 800 as is being reported.”

Reason for Lay offs
The 800 Indians at Saudi Oger were laid off as part of major cutbacks by the Lebanese-owned company that used to be among West Asia’s most successful construction companies.In the past two years, the dramatic fall in oil prices and declining Saudi economy have hurt the company’s fortunes, and many employees say they haven’t been paid wages since last December.

Condition of economy in Saudi Arabia
While the Saudi Arabia has seen a steady GDP growth of 5 per cent from 2005-2015, the GDP could drop to less than 2 per cent in 2016, economic news agencies reported.

Indian workers
Companies like Saad, and the BinLaden group have already laid off at least 50,000 workers in the past year, and many other oil and infrastructure companies are following suit, giving workers “permanent exit visas” to leave and without a promise of wages.

Nearly three million Indians live and work in Saudi Arabia, according to the MEA website, and constitute the largest population of Indian passport holders outside of India. In 2015, Indians in KSA remitted about $10.1 billion home, and the government will feel the pinch if those dry up.



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