Working as a private security guard for a power plant near Basra, Kapoor would often walk around in the markets of An-Nasiriyah and Basra and marvel at how cheap everything in Iraq was—thanks to his monthly salary of Rs 1.5 lakh with free boarding and lodging.
Kapoor was sent by the Mumbai-based Trig Guardforce security firm, to work for an Indo-Sweden venture involved in laying high-voltage power lines in the war-torn country.
‘‘We were going from Basra to An-Nasiriyah on duty to check high power transmission lines when we heard gunshots from two cars in front of us.’’ His engineer colleague, Santosh Ghalsasi, was fatally shot in the neck. The car driver was also killed. [Indian Express]
We need, first of all, to understand the scenario with some clarity. There are many categories of Indians in Iraq today. There are those, for instance, who have been working there even before the war last year — some of whom have been living in Iraq for decades, even generations. A lot of these people would have lost their jobs in the upheaval caused by the war and its aftermath, and would be looking for sources of subsistence and employment in a country now mired in lawlessness. There are also many who have recently gone to Iraq in search of jobs, either legally or otherwise, either through contractors or independently. The emoluments on offer — going by the hazards involved — are much higher than normal. Many, therefore, are willing to risk their lives in order to get these jobs, which are in great demand. A single US contractor has 100,000 applicants on its waiting list!
The question that we should be asking ourselves is what can India do to make life more secure for its citizens working in Iraq [Indian Express]
Exploitation of workers seeking jobs in the Gulf and elsewhere is an age-old problem. When India was shining less, these workers were an important source of foreign exchange inflows, yet there is no systematic process to protect them. Indian Airlines and Air India conducted a massive air-lift of over 100,000 Indian workers during the last Gulf war, but that was an emergency measure.