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Saving is not an option for most Indians in Gulf: Study

CHENNAI: A P Satish Kumar, a technician in Dubai, earns 3,500 dirhams (around Rs 58,000) a month and lives in an apartment that he shares with five others. He pays 1,500 dirhams (Rs 25,000) for a tiny room in the apartment and, with the 2,000 dirhams (Rs 33,000) remaining from his salary, he eats frugally, takes care of essential needs and sends whatever's left to his family in India.


Around five million Indians work in the Gulf and, like Kumar, most are blue collar workers. They earn barely enough to sustain themselves and send a part of their wages to their families in India. Saving is not an option. 

A study has found only 5% of Indian expatriates in the Gulf would be able to lead a comfortable life if they were to return to the country for good. 

The results of the study reflect the high cost of living in the Gulf, the inability of expatriates to save their earnings as well as the profligacy with which their families spend money remitted to them, said K V Shamsudeen, chairman of Sharjah-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, which carried out the study. 

The study covered 10,100 Indian respondents in the Gulf Cooperation Countries, a union of five nations and the UAE. It found that despite making sacrifices and leading a life of comparative deprivation in an affluent society, many Indian expatriates stand to gain no long-term benefit from working in the Gulf. 

Many Indians who work in the Gulf for decades return home without any money, respondents said when asked about personal acquaintances. "They work hard in extreme climates and endure tough living conditions to remit as much money as they can to their families," said Shamsudeen. "But the study found that only 2% of their families have savings from money that they have received." 

Though 98% of the respondents agreed that their families' lifestyle had improved, only 5% felt they could lead a comfortable life if they returned to India. 

Only 10% of the respondents could take their families with them to the Gulf. Close to 31% sent money to their families in India once a month, 24% once in two months and 11% once in three months. A large number of the respondents (34%) said they had no savings whatsoever. 

"Expatriates should encourage their families to save money they send from the Gulf because, by and large, there is little job security here," Shamsudeen said. 

Satish Kumar says he would advise youngsters who dream of working in the Gulf to think it out carefully first. "Unless you are a professional with a white collar job, it's not worth the trouble," he said. "The work pressure here and the pressure to send money home can destroy a man."

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