PRIME MINISTER MODI VISIT TO UAE: DID THE ACTUAL ISSUES GET BLURRED?
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to UAE was a path breaking event. Engaging with UAE was a priority agenda in terms of foreign policy objectives for India. Definitely, India’s Look West policy has not been as successful as its Look East policy. Driven by India’s security and strategic needs in the region, which also includes furthering her economic and political objectives there was an urge to engage diplomatically with UAE. From the Defence point of view since both nations are also connected by the Arabian Sea, rendering the security of the sea and the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) are significant areas for naval diplomacy. Other areas of cooperation include countering illegal activities such as smuggling of arms, supply of narcotics and drugs, and movement of criminal elements in the sea. India and UAE had shared good relations in the past and had signed a defence cooperation agreement in 2003 that focuses on bilateral cooperation on military training, cooperation in military medical services and jointly combating pollution caused by the military at sea. Regular naval exercises take place between India and the UAE. Economically, UAE is a lucrative market for Indian goods ranging from textile to spices. Investment opportunities through mutual cooperation are also immense especially in the field of infrastructure development. Also, there is a need to counter Chinese outreach in the region and curtail Pakistan’s presence in the region. The Highlights of the Visit When Modi addressed the Expat Indians at the cricket stadium the highlight became the plot of land which was granted by the UAE government for building the temple in Abu Dhabi. In United Arab Emirates Prime minister Modi announced various schemes for the welfare of the diaspora, which includes the launching of the e- migrant portal to help Indian migrant workers and an online platform ‘MADAD’ to assist the diaspora. Also, under the new scheme the Indian expats in trouble can now get financial help, including those to fight legal cases. UAE has also proved to be a diplomatic partner on the international forum as it has supported the cause of India’s permanent seat in UN Security Council. They have called for international co-operation and intelligence sharing in counter-terrorism operations. They have also proposed to work together for the adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations. In terms of furthering the economic ties UAE has promised to invest $75 in India. The money would be distributed through the establishment of the UAE- India Infrastructure Investment Fund, which will support the buildings of railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors. The growing requirement of the international diplomacy demands the greater levels of engagement on these crucial issues. The real issues In the entire sound show highlighting the symbolism of the temple, the real issues got blurred. At the heart of the issue is the migrant misery. The 2.2 million Indian labourers are bonded by the unique contract system “Kafala” that takes away their basic rights. These are contract migrants” and the government doesn’t take responsibility leaving their fate to “sponsors” that include individuals and companies. The 50000 strong crowds who cheered Modi do not adequately represent the plight of these bonded workers. The Indian community is by and large these labourers — those who are kept on the margins by both the natives and wealthier Indians, and not those seemingly rich expatriates that most of us are familiar with. PM failed to look into the demands of these workers. According to S Iruydaya Rajan, who has been studying migration to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Countries) for years at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram, quotes a Government of India study in India Migration Report 2012 to highlight the pitfalls of this system: alteration of the original provision of the labour contract after arrival, denial of salaries and other benefits, and pushing skilled employees to unskilled labour. According tohim, arbitrary reduction of salaries and non-payment for months is very common, and the (civil, criminal and labour) laws are totally in favour of the native employer. For the labourers who work for 10-12 hours a day, have no decent access to healthcare, and are forced to live in camps that are plainly inhuman the idea of temple is of no priority. Also, the whole promotion of temple land is just a way to promote pride and is away from the distant realities. The most exploited are those who work in households (such as maids and gardeners) because local labour laws don’t acknowledge them at all. The worst, however, is the practise of confiscation of passports by employers that make their lives really bonded. In such situation the e-portal is of little use. It would have been a success if Modi could have worked out policies for these people who did not constitute the glittery crowd of the stadium but those who were sweating and working at some construction site. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section] //