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Editorial of the Day (14th June): The Invisible Worker

Context:

  • In a Tragic Fire Incident in Kuwait, 49 deaths were reported, with 42 Indians, including 24 from Kerala. Over 50 people were injured.
  • The fire’s cause is under investigation, but it highlights the lack of safety and poor living conditions for migrant workers.

Broader Context of Migrant Worker Conditions

Historical Issues:

  • During the Qatar World Cup, numerous migrant deaths, harsh working conditions, and human rights violations were reported.
  • Similar concerns were raised during the Dubai Expo and the COVID-19 pandemic, where 75% of positive cases in Saudi Arabia were among migrants due to cramped living conditions.
Data
Kerala Migration Survey (KMS) 2023:

  • An estimated 2.2 million people from Kerala have migrated, with 80% in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
  • Most work in unorganised sectors like construction, facing dangerous conditions.

Challenges and Policy Responses

  • Lack of Permanent Residency: Migrants in Gulf countries cannot attain permanent residency, limiting their rights and protection.
  • Exploitation and Safety: Migrants face exploitative labour conditions and safety risks, similar to those in Qatar before the World Cup.
  • Data Collection: Inadequate data collection on migrant health and safety exacerbates their invisibility and vulnerability.
  • MOUs and Policy: India has signed MOUs with GCC countries on mobility and migration but needs to leverage these agreements better to protect its migrants.

Calls for Action

  • Improved Data Collection: Establish a national migration database to better understand and address the needs of Indian migrants.
  • Enhanced Safety Measures: Implement policies ensuring safe living and working conditions for migrants in destination countries.
  • International Cooperation: Strengthen international cooperation and ensure agreements with destination countries are effectively utilised to safeguard migrants.
  • Focus on Human Aspect: Shift the perspective from seeing migrants merely as remittance sources to acknowledging their human rights and safety needs.

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