Expats in UAE call India’s new passport plan discriminatory

The current annual recorded flow of low-skilled labor migrants from India to GCC countries is around 600,000 to 800,000 workers per year. (AFP/File)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Expats in UAE call India’s new passport plan discriminatory

DUBAI: Indian expats in the UAE have been widely critical of the Indian government’s decision to issue orange passports to people who require emigration clearance for travel to a group of 18 countries, mostly in the Gulf region.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said last week that people who have graduated high school, or are among the 2 percent of Indians who pay income tax, and do not require emigration checks, will be issued with blue passports. That excludes the vast majority of Indian migrant workers in the Gulf.
“I don’t understand why the color has changed. How can any country discriminate against its own people on the basis of education? We are citizens of a democratic country and such a decision is against the basic foundations of democracy,” said one 42-year-old mason, who has been working in Dubai for over a decade.
Sharjah-based K.V. Shamsudheen, who heads the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, has written a letter to Sushma Swaraj, the Indian minister for external affairs, saying that this move will lead to discrimination.
“Segregating citizens this way is not acceptable. There will be a different line at the airport and other countries may consider a group of our own citizens as inferior,” Shamsudheen wrote.
“The idea is equivalent to creating an upper class and a lower class. There is no need for such a change. No developed country has such a system,” said Biju Soman of the Indian Association Sharjah.
Oommen Chandy, a member of the legislative assembly and former chief minister of the Indian state of Kerala, has written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the decision will lead to problems for Indian expats, especially blue-collar workers in Gulf countries.
“The decision is unfortunate as it will (classify) two different types of citizens, one with education and one without; this results in discrimination against our citizens. I am afraid that it may lead to insecurity among our citizens,” he said.
“The moment an orange passport holder lands in a foreign country, he will be treated as a second-class citizen and it will result in mental harassment to our honorable citizens,” Chandy wrote in his letter.
“According to available sources, nearly 15 percent of the 2.5 million Kerala diaspora (did not graduate high school, and are) thus qualified for orange color passport only. In other states it would be more than that,” he said.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) report on Indian migrant workers, India sends the largest number of migrants to GCC countries, accounting for more than a quarter of the region’s total migrant population in 2013.
The current annual recorded flow of low-skilled labor migrants from India to GCC countries is around 600,000 to 800,000 workers per year.


Egypt says Israel’s Jewish nation-state law undermines Middle East peace

Updated 21 July 2018
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Egypt says Israel’s Jewish nation-state law undermines Middle East peace

  • Egypt on Saturday said a new Israeli law giving Jews the exclusive right to self-determination in the country undermined the chances for peace
  • The law, which was passed on Thursday, has drawn rebuke from the EU and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority

CAIRO: Egypt on Saturday said a new Israeli law giving Jews the exclusive right to self-determination in the country undermined the chances for peace in the Middle East and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
The law, which was passed on Thursday, has drawn rebuke from the EU and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and Arab citizens of Israel as racist legislation.
“The Arab Republic of Egypt announces...its rejection of the law passed by the Israeli Knesset on the “national state for the Jewish people” law ... for its ramifications that consecrate the concept of occupation and racial segregation,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“It undermines the chances for achieving peace and reaching a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian issue,” it said.
It said the law would also have a potential impact on the right of Palestinians displaced from their homes in 1948 when Israel was founded, and their descendants, to return to their homes under United Nations resolutions.
Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab country to forge a peace treaty with Israel under the US-sponsored Camp David accord that provided for the Jewish state to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula.
But relations between two countries remained lukewarm, with Egypt demanding that Israel quit other lands it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, including the Syrian Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem.
On Friday, Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, the most prestigious Sunni Muslim institution, denounced the Israeli law calling it “a step that reflects repugnant racism“