The government has blamed “lack of demand” for an almost 35% decline in the number of Indian workers emigrating to Gulf countries from 2014 to 2016. But emigration statistics compiled by The Indian Express from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh point to a significant underlying trend: workers from the two neighbouring countries have stepped up to meet demand following the dip from India.
Official data from the three countries on workers’ emigration to the six nations that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain — show a near 8.5% growth during this period. These six Gulf economies absorbed 19,01,356 workers in 2016 from the three major South Asian nations as against 17,52,734 workers in 2014.
The statistics (left) show that Indians comprised almost 48% of workers in the Gulf from the three countries in 2013, and a little under 27% in 2016. The share of Pakistani workers, in contrast, jumped from about 37% to 43% during this period. Bangladeshis registered a massive spurt from a little under 15% in 2013 to over 30% in 2016.
The emigration statistics in the first half of 2017 show that Pakistan and Bangladesh accounted for a 78% share in the GCC labour market from the three countries, with Bangladesh logging nearly 50%. Indians comprised just 22%, the figures show.
Last Thursday, responding to a question from Samajwadi Party MP Javed Ali Khan, the Ministry of External Affairs informed Rajya Sabha: “There has been a decline in the number of Indian workers emigrating to the Gulf countries for employment dues to economic slowdown in GCC countries triggered by the weak oil prices, which has resulted in lack of demand for workers.”
Statistics compiled by the Ministry showed that the number of Indian workers emigrating to the the GCC countries shrank by almost 35% from 7,75,845 in 2014 to 5,07,296 in 2016.