Business & EconomyIs India’s $100 billion remittance worth the pain?

Is India’s $100 billion remittance worth the pain?

According to a World Bank report, the yearly remittance from migrant workers to India is on track to reach over$100 billion annually.

But how are the Indian migrant workers abroad? Are they happy? Are they safe?

From low-skilled jobs in Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, Indians have shifted to high-skilled employment in high-income countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore over the years enabling them to send more money back home.

In 2021, India received $89.4 billion in remittances. “Remittance flows to India were enhanced by the wage hikes and a strong labour market in the United States,” a government report indicated.

Indian migration and remittance rewards

India has 18 million migrant workers with 8.4 million in Gulf countries alone.

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Migration gives Indian nationals a hopeful livelihood strategy, and the ability to contribute to the economic growth of the destination state/country, while their families enjoy the remittances being sent back.

However, workers employed in low-skilled, labor-intensive jobs suffer malpractices such as wage-related abuse, working overtime without compensation, lack of social security coverage, and lack of protection during recruitment and employment. Indian workers are in a vulnerable position which was heightened further by the COVID-19 crisis.

The plight of Indians abroad

Reports have revealed the extensive exploitation of Indians working in low- and semi-skilled jobs in other countries. In many instances, these workers have to pay excessive recruitment fees. When work has started, they are underpaid or have their wages withheld. They endure long hours, abusive treatment, and be surrounded by poor working conditions. They are also made to surrender their passports and other documents to employers, thus, becoming “hostages” to their employers.

Experts say that India needs to create more opportunities, generate more jobs, focus on improving living conditions, and improve the education system so that people will not move abroad. This is also to make sure that India can avoid “brain drain” taking place.

According to government data, a huge number of Indians have given up their citizenship. In 2021 alone, 160,000 Indians renounced their citizenship to either work or reside abroad.

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While most Indians want to be “patriotic” towards their homeland, the need to “seek greener pastures” proves to be more compelling.

But the question is — are the millions sent back home worth it?

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