Crisis for Indian Engineers in Kuwait
This is a guest blog by Satyendra.
A recent tweet of Shashi Tharoor about Indians working in Kuwait is of concern. A new regulation of the Kuwaiti government may deport thousands of Indian engineers working in Kuwait. I have analyzed the topic in this blog.
Protectionist Move by Kuwait
The change in residency and work permits regulation in Kuwait has raised the concern of Indian engineers. The change could affect more than 40, 000 engineers. The new regulation mandates a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSOE) to get their residency and work permits. However, getting NOC from KSOE would be very difficult for Indians. This is a protectionist policy undertaken to reduce the cash-out flow and secure jobs for Kuwaitis.
Why is it difficult to get NOC?
In a recent statement, KSOE has said that NOC will be granted only to those engineers, who have studied in those colleges which are accredited by National Board of Accreditation (NBA). The mandatory condition of NBA accreditation for granting NOC would nearly affect 90% of Indian engineers in Kuwait as not even premier institution of India like IITs, RECs, Anna University have NBA accreditation but they have AICTE, MHRD or UGC accreditation.
Significance of NBA Accreditation
NBA is a full member of Washington Accord, which came into existence in 1989. It is an international accreditation agreement for professional engineering academic degrees between the bodies responsible for accreditation to its signatory countries. As of 2017, some major signatory countries are Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Pakistan, China, USA, Russia, India, and Hong Kong.
Impact on Indians
Kuwait is home to nearly 9, 20, 000 Indians who are currently engaged in various sectors like oil & gas, construction, and the nursing profession. This large number of Indians forms the largest expatriate community in the country. These Indians are present in all segments of the Kuwaiti society and their total remittances are estimated at $4.8 billion annually. If engineers get deported it will not only directly affect over 40,000 engineers, their families but also cause considerable loss to the remittance to India. Not only that, the recent law proposed by Kuwaiti Parliamentary Panel suggests that there should be a structure of fee on salaries of those workers who are working in Kuwait, and sending remittances to their native countries. The fee may vary according to salary. This will affect all Indians working in Kuwait.
Will Deportation Increase Unemployment?
This is a very genuine question in India right now. India produces 1.5 million engineers every year from 4000 institutes, which is more than USA and China combined. 60% of them remain unemployed due to low quality of the education. Deportation would add to the pool of disgruntled unemployed youth.
What should India Do?
Enforcement of the new regulation and tax on remittances would affect India’s foreign remittance collection. Such a move by Kuwait may encourage other Gulf countries to follow suit. Oil wealth in the Gulf is depleting because of lowered price of oil. The value of fossil fuels would lower in the world in the future. Gulf countries are likely to safeguard their national interests. India would do well to use diplomatic channels to persuade the Kuwaiti government to not implement this policy soon. In the long run India has to make “Make in India” a success to resolve the unemployment problem. The engineering institutes should also pull up their socks and drastically raise the quality of education to help Indian society rather than just earn money.