Kuwait City: It is a
model that other Indian embassies in the Gulf region could emulate
while dealing with problems of Indian workers, particularly women,
The Indian embassy in Kuwait, which serves an estimated 640,000
expatriates in the Gulf state, has evolved a system that provides
comfort, security and dignity to the worker in distress.
Ambassador Ajai Malhotra said while the Indian community is
present in most segments of society in Kuwait, the embassy's
welfare thrust is primarily focused on addressing the concerns of
Since April 2009 the embassy has been accommodating a number of
Indian domestic workers, including housemaids, houseboys, cooks
and drivers, who face problems on their work front.
Apart from ensuring their shelter, the mission has also been
addressing their grievances, Malhotra said.
"They are given a kit containing new clothes, toiletries, bunk
beds with new bedding and regular meals during their stay. They
can also watch TV and listen to music," Malhotra told IANS.
Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna was on a three-day
visit to Kuwait to attend the country's 50th anniversary of
independence, which was marked with festivities and a massive
military parade Saturday.
According to Malhotra, workers who are repatriated are given the
air ticket from Kuwait to the airport nearest to their home in
India, Rs.3,000 for incidental expenses, a suitcase and new set of
"The idea is that they must return to India with a higher sense of
dignity," he pointed out.
The ambassador said it was mostly women who came seeking shelter
at the embassy with some problem or the other and they stay there
for an average of four to five weeks.
At present there are 50 women and two men in the embassy's
shelter. It accommodated 585 domestic workers in 2010.
The embassy has worked out a system to shelter the workers in
distress. The funds for the shelter come from a fixed upfront
payment made by sponsors who want to avail the services of Indian
workers. The money goes to an outsourced company, which is
responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the facility.
According to Malhotra, the ministry of overseas Indian affairs is
keen to replicate the Kuwait embassy model to help Indian workers
in distress in other Gulf countries.
Malhotra, who has been the Indian envoy in Kuwait since March
2009, said there had been instances of distresses involving
Indians which had moved him to tears.
The embassy staff also visits jails regularly to extend consular
support and other assistance to Indians serving sentences there.
"A lawyer from the embassy's panel accompanies our officials to
provide free legal service and support to them," he said.
There are 252 Indians presently serving sentences in Kuwaiti
Malhotra also said that the the embassy plans to screen sponsors
who want to employ Indian workforce so as to minimise the scope of
problems in the future.
The Indian embassy in Kuwait has a round-the-clock toll free
helpline for domestic workers that was inaugurated in August 2009.
It is a multiple line call centre and provides the embassy with a
print out of incoming call details so that they could be traced
back to sources.
The call centre is staffed by people who can converse in Hindi,
Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Arabic and English.
The embassy helpline number is front-paged on all job contracts so
that new domestic workers know that someone is constantly
available to help them, the envoy said.
According to the embassy data, Kuwait has about 75,000 housemaids,
about 1,50,000 cooks, drivers and houseboys, nearly 2,30,000
project workers from India.
There are also others working in professions such as medicine,
engineering and nursing. Indians constitute the largest expatriate
community in Kuwait.