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'Expat Ride' addresses concerns of NRIs in Gulf countries
April, 10th 2012

" Expat Ride", a book by Mohammed Saifuddin, addresses many concerns of NRIs residing and working in Gulf countries.

The Indian government is trying to bring NRIs under the tax net, through introduction of the New Direct Tax Code, in place of old Income Tax Act. Concerns of the Indians in Gulf about this issue are dealt by the author, who argues that Indians in Gulf countries should be exempted from the income tax. He presents the real situation of Indians here with supporting data collected by a survey. This survey revealed that most of the Indian workers in Gulf countries return home empty handed.

The book reveals that the resident Indians not only outnumber the NRIs in wealth, but they are almost double in numbers and their net worth is much higher than NRIs.

The problems, working and living conditions of Indian workers in Gulf countries are different from NRIs living in other countries. Mohammed Ali Shabbir, the ex-minister of NRI affairs, the government of Andhra Pradesh, expressed same views after releasing this book and they should be dealt separately. The Indians working in the Gulf countries have been demanding from the Indian government since long time to rip off their NRI status. The author argues that the Indians in Gulf countries should not be referred as NRIs. Rather, they should be called Indian contract workers in Gulf countries.

Quoting AICTE notification to reserve one third of the 15% supernumerary seats for the children of Indians living in the Gulf countries, author suggests to extend this quota for all the courses in Indian universities. Many people may not be aware, but the AICTE notification states that there shall be no NRI fees for children of Indians in Gulf countries. "The children of Indian workers in the Gulf Countries shall be treated at par with resident citizens," says the notification.

Revealing how money-lending by hawala rackets in Gulf countries are effecting Indian laborers, Saifuddin writes that the Indian workers in the Gulf countries are facing such a hard time that instead of sending remittances to their families, many of them are forced to seek financial support from their families and friends back home, in India through illegal means like hawala.

Revealing another shocking trend of money-lending by these hawala rackets, author mentions that many Indian labourers in Gulf countries have become their victims, are which acting as vultures sucking the blood of poor labourers. This trend is linked to the loan sharks operating in the Gulf countries, who lend money to the labourers in Gulf countries on the higher rates of interest. The lenders pay the money to dependent in India through their agents and it is collected back here, in foreign currency. The money has to be returned in the agreed period, until then the interest should be paid regularly.

Concerned with the majority of Indians being among those who commit suicide in the UAE, the author tries to ponder on the reason of high depression among the Indians.

Last year the ministry of overseas Indian affairs has established the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in the 43 Indian missions across the world, in the countries that have a significant number of Indians. The "Expat Ride" author explains how the Indian Consulate General in Dubai has used this fund to get release of Indian prisoners from various jails. Lauding the consulate, the author suggests similar steps by the Indian missions in other Gulf countries.

Those Indians who are seeking jobs in Gulf countries are much prone to exploitation by the agents at the recruitment stage itself. To curb the ill deeds of these agents, the Indian government has made some amendments in the Emigration Act 1983 by a Gazette notification in July 2009. The author describes these changes and how it will affect the intending immigrants.

Indian government has conferred voting rights to NRIs and it makes it compulsory that we should be present in India during polling to cast our vote. Stating that postal ballot, online polling or voting at Indian missions should be introduced, the author gives examples of different countries which already have such facility.

The Right to Information Act was propagated as "powerful weapon". Later on it was extended to NRIs and we can seek information from the Indian embassy. Initially, we were very happy that we can use RTI at an Indian embassy. But, in reality, this act is useless for NRIs. It is impossible for us to apply for any information under the RTI Act, reveals the book.

The book also contains a write-up about the newly launched Passport Seva Kendras established under the Passport Seva Project.

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