New Delhi, July 8 : Nearly 50,000 to 150,000 Indian workers, most of them from the Gulf countries, have probably returned to the country due to the global economic slowdown, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi informed parliament Wednesday.
In his written reply to a question, Ravi told the Lok Sabha that the workers in the United Arab Emirates seemed to be most affected.
He noted that the Indian missions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have not reported any “large-scale adverse impact on Indian workers”, though there have been “reports of some job losses”.
The Indian embassy in the UAE could not give precise figures of returnees, but indicated that the number was very large.
“It is estimated that ranging from 50,000 to 1,50,000 workers have returned to India as a result of the delay in execution of projects due to economic slowdown and recession,” Vayalar Ravi said.
Several of these workers have returned to India only temporarily, that is, on leave without pay and expect to go back to the UAE once the economy revives and projects restarted.
The Indian high commission in Kuala Lumpur has told the overseas Indian affairs ministry that a small number of Indian workers has returned due to slowdown in the Malaysian economy.
But, there have been no reports of such returns from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Brunei, Libya, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Gulf countries account for 90 percent of Indian immigrants, most of them blue-collar workers.
Indian professionals in the western countries like Germany, Canada and Britain have not shown any trend of returning home, despite these economies going into recession.
The United States, which has a large Indian diaspora, has been one of the hardest-hit economies in the current slowdown that has affected all sections of people.
But Indian professionals in the US have not suffered job losses, due to their “indispensability” to their organisations, the minister noted.
“The exact number of Indians affected by the recession is indeterminate,” he added.
The ministry was expecting a budgetary support of Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) for setting up a fund for returning Indian workers but the request could not be accommodated in the union budget presented Monday.