Issues over Kuwait Expat Bill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Indian diaspora in Gulf region

A total of eight lakh Indians could be forced to leave Kuwait as it’s National Assembly committee has approved a draft expat quota bill seeking to reduce the number of foreign workers in the Gulf country.

Do you know?

India is the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending a whopping $79 billion back home in 2018 a/c to the World Bank. It is followed by China (USD 67 billion), Mexico (USD 36 billion), the Philippines (USD 34 billion), and Egypt (USD 29 billion).

What is the Expat Bill about?

  • Amid a slump in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a spike in anti-expat rhetoric as lawmakers and government officials call for reducing the number of foreigners in Kuwait.
  • According to the bill, Indians should not exceed 15% of the population.
  • The draft once turned to the law will impose a cap on the number of expats and gradually reduce them by almost 5% on a yearly basis.

A demographic issue

  • Kuwait has a real problem in its population structure, in which 70% are expats.
  • The 1.3 million of the 3.35 million expats are either illiterate or can merely read and write.
  • Kuwait has also been working to reduce its dependence on foreign workers.

A huge diaspora at stake

  • There are about 28,000 Indians working for the Kuwaiti Government in various jobs like nurses, engineers in national oil companies and a few as scientists.
  • The majority of Indians (5.23 lakh) are employed in private sectors. In addition, there are about 1.16 lakh dependents.
  • Out of these, there are about 60,000 Indian students studying in 23 Indian schools in the country.

Impacts on Indians

  • The current population of Kuwait is 4.3 million, with Kuwaitis making up 1.3 million of the population, and expats accounting for 3 million.
  • This bill would result in 8,00,000 Indians leaving Kuwait, as the Indian community constitutes the largest expat community in the country, totalling 1.45 million.
  • As the MEA says, Indians are present in all segments of society in Kuwait and are largely considered disciplined, hardworking and law-abiding.
  • India has often in the past played up the role of the Indian community in Kuwait as an important factor in bilateral ties.

Must read:

India’s rising Forex Reserves

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