01 December, 2005

Something that's nagging at me... (I should be sleeping now!)

Are there any Indian expat's on this forum? I would really appreciate some feedback on the following:

Let's say the UAE government decides they want such-and-such class of immigrant to have a minimum of a high school diploma. Now once word of this spreads in India, how will the would-be-immigrant who falls into the aforementioned category respond to this new (UAE) government edict. Will he think, OK, let me go to school for a year or two and earn my diploma, or instead will he think only, who do I have to pay now to get that diploma.

I raise this point because in some sense you have a double-edged sword in the labor/exploitation "game" in the UAE. Sure, you have the companies that are up to no good, lining their coffers at the expense of cheap labor. But at the same time you seem to have a country full of would-be-immigrants who have little regard for what is legal and their first (and probably only) thought is who do I have to pay and how much.

Any comments. I really want to hear others' perspectives.


Husain said...

What you need to consider is why they didn't go to school in the first place? The most probably reason is the lack for necessary finances.

Expats come to Dubai looking for a better future. They come here to earn money to support their family back home. With the new law, expats will do whatever costs less and requires less time. If paying someone to get a diploma costs less than spending a couple of years in school, then that shall be the case.

~my two cents.

BD said...

Thanks Hussein for your comment. But if they can scramble up the 60-100,000 rupees to pay an agent for a visa why don't they make the same initiative to get through school. I know education costs, even in poorer countries, but there must be a way even in rural India to EARN a diploma that's cheaper than paying agents to get into another country illegally.

I think there's a mentality that laws don't matter, just pay someone off. If foreign workers come to the UAE with this attitude why should the companies they work for not also disregard the laws and mistreat them if it means higher profits.

I know there are some in India earning real degrees of merit who are forced to take jobs below their standards both at home and abroad, but this doesn't excuse the countless others who don't seem to give even a passing thought to doing things the lawful way.

Chris said...

I am not indian, but more than half the people I work with are, and I have to agree that is mostly a mentality thing because most of the people I work with have some kind of qualification (education) and even in every day simple tasks to do they lie, about finishing on time or calling someone or have something sent, or arriving on time.... I don't think is badness because most of them are good hearted people, it just seems a normal thing to do.

BD said...

Wow Chris, that's a charitable position to take--and I guess I would concur to some exttent. Perhaps when you grow up in a system full of corruption (e.g. everybody from highest elected official to lowliest civil servant expects a payoff) then you presume bending rules is the only way to function.

But on the other hand India is a country with a rich religious tradition, especially in rural areas. Does/Do their god or gods sanction ignoring rules and laws. Alas another example of the great disconnect between what people profess to believe and how they actually behave.

secretdubai said...

The impression I get from Indian friends joking about their Indian driving licences is that you can literally buy off anything there. Because they know the Indian licence isn't worth the paper it's written on, they're not actually that resentful that they have to take a new test when they come here, unlike UK or European licence holders.

Chris said...

I think we will have to go back to mentality because I grew up in a system full of corruption (where everybody from highest elected official to lowliest civil servant expected a payoff) and with a rich religious tradition as well (differnt religion), but my country is changing thanks to all citizens that didn't think it was the right way, but it has taken more than 80 years to see a change and we are a nation a lot younger than India, I can't imagine how long it will take them when education still not a priority.

CG said...

All Indians that I know have lied at some time or another, either to me or in front of me...(I would get a complex but since they all do and to everyone else ME THINKS i am ok)......they just cannot help themselves and they don't seem to think it is shameful when caught out.

BD said...

Are there any Indians on the forum who can "enlighten" us--or offer more explanation? Great to hear Chris that people and countries can change. I don't like the excuse that people give when challenged that "that's just the way things are." People as individuals can stand for values apart from the crowd--and it usually will pay off in their own life. Doesn't that whole idea about karma come from India anyway. (Oh, but the payoff doesn't come till the next life!)

CG, everyone lies. It's not just an Indian thing--it's human nature, but I get your drift. It's when someone lies in a way that you can tell they think their doing absolutely nothing wrong. I've had a couple of Indian friends who have asked me for help with their resumes. They were regular, decent hard-working guys. But one look at the resume written in all its flowerly language and you could see that it was full of B_. I thought, how can I in honesty help if this is what they intend to pass on.

Anonymous said...

Definition of Education, anyone????...something thats nagging me too!!!Any definitions from Western point of view perhaps?
I have personally met and heard of several European expats who hold highly qualified posts in the UAE who are merely school dropouts (from carpenters to Construction managers immediately after stepping off the plane!)Can anybody explain this 'phenomenon'?
Is it skin, appearance,fake certficates or the gift of the gab?

Husain said...

With all due respect to everyone, generalizing every Indian as a liar is a bit extreme. We all have lied at one point or the other.

You say that people should take the initiative to go to school. What people are you talking about? Are you talking about the boys and girls that should be sent to school rather than being made to work in the farms or are you talking about the farmers that have already passed the school-going age? The saying "it is never too late to learn" looks good in books, but not when you have several mouths to feed.

To understand why they do it we need to put ourselves in their shoes. Think of the problems from their perspectives. Think for one second of all the problems and all the solutions. Wouldn't you choose a "quick" solution?

While mentality greatly affects the choice an individual makes, it is not the only factor (as you may have realized if you put yourselves in their shoes). And you can't change anyones mentality. You just can't. What we can do on the other hand is mold the coming generation.

BD said...

Thanks, Hussein for elaborating. I will admit it would be hard to explore options when one already has mouths to feed. But I don't see the alternative which many people seem to follow being very good either--that of selling off what little one has or going into debt to pay some agent for a job that may or may not work out. Instead of rushing to give so much money to agents (who in my mind are often vile creatures profitting on the misfortune of others) they ought to organize themselves within India itself and find ways to meet the labour demands in the Gulf countries legally,

I know I'm asking for a lot, but there are a lot of clever people in that big country. Why do people continually rely on the corrupt agents. This practice of immigrating for jobs has been going on for years. Why can't someone come up with a more honest way of doing it? There's no question the Gulf countries need and will take in people of all classes--as they require everything here from the most unskilled to those at the top of their fields.

The problem is they're doing it through those vile corrupt agents. I say cut those guys out. Some of the successful Indians here ought to, for example, organize something more honest and fair.

You see, everyone sits back and lets the agents clean up. Why doesn't some respectable citizen of India set up, for example, continuing education classes so an adult can get a certificate within a year. They can charge money for that--less the what those vile agents charge--and still make a profit while helping the community. They can set it up so the farmer can work on his farm in the day and take classes at night. You've got to statt doing something about that notion that I'll just pay off somebody, cross my fingers and expect everything to work out fine.

waterboy said...

Having grown up around Asia, I've visited India a couple of times. I didn't find Indians to be any more or any less dishonest than anyone else - most had a strong work ethic, some did not; most were generally honest; some were not.

I'm reminded of a Venezuelan in Paris driving 2 hours to return a form - normal practice in Venezuela, where it's only through sweet-talking officials that you can get anything done in a reasonable amount of time. The Parisian official was gobsmacked - why had he driven all the way out here?, she wondered. Everyone else just posts the form.

People will game badly designed systems. If the transaction costs of formal compliance with the law are too high, there's an incentive to spend money and effort if it will actually reduce those costs. When enforcement is minimal, there are even less incentives to comply.

waterboy said...

People won't just sit around and wait for their grandchildren to be well-off through trickle-down. We pump them full of hope for a better future and full of greed for more products and then complain when they get hungry for economic development now, not in a generation - what's that about?

BD said...

Thanks for the contribution Waterboy but I'm not sure I get your point. I'm not critical of the Indians or anyone for wanting a better life. I gather you're trying to say that people have got to do what they've got to do--to survive. I would say for one, it isn't always a survival game, and even if it is, there still may be more than one avenue.

I'll give an example. A friend just told me of an acquaintancee in India who just got to the UAE after paying 120,000 rupees (Dh 9500), to get a job as a laborer earning about Dh 550 per month. The fact is that the guy was already making the equivalent of about Dh 400 per month in Bombay. Some people including my friend told him there was no point giving that up to come to the UAE but no matter what people told him, he had it fixed in his mind that Indians come to the UAE and get rich.

Now this is anecdotal I know, but it shows a guy who isn't in desparate straits but nonetheless he's fixated on an illusion and is willing to pay an agent a lot of money to make it happen. Now I would say, hold your horses, use your money to learn a skill and qualificaitions, then pursue your dream. Why turn to an agent, hand over a wad of cash and then expect everything to turn out rosy.

I don't want to sound too critical, but I think it is like a fever. Somebody knows somebody who is supposed to be living off the fat in the UAE, and suddenly they are ready to throw reason out of the window and do anything they can to get on the bandwagon. It's the "do anything they can part" that I especially don't like.

I say, take your time, first think really is it right for you and your family and then if it is, find the correct, legal way to pursue it. They'll come to the UAE a better qualified person, with respect for the law and the system and I'm sure that attitude will bring benefits upon them as well.

Husain said...

Here's another side to this issue. My dad has a shop and employs a porter to deliver goods to customers. I got a chance to talk with him one day about life in his village in India. He owns a few hundred acres of farming land which provides enough income to lead a proper life. Not lavish but enough to live peacefully. Upon inquiry as to why he felt the need to come to Dubai and stay away from his family, he told me, "Just like that." An answer that left me stunned.

BD said...

What does his answer "just like that" mean? Sorry I don't get it. Was he saying he left to get away from his family? Well, that is a different motive. I also met someone from Kerela who said he came in order to "see the world." He'd always been interested in seeing other places as a kid, Africa, Asia, etc. Coming to the UAE was the first chance he got, even though he doesn't like his job situation.

waterboy said...

I didn't say that it was a matter of survival. You can survive quite happily as a subsistence farmer, and while you might not live to 100 your quality of life will not necessarily be any worse than living in a slum or a doss house. Could be better, in fact. Okay, every now and again there might be a flood or a famine but a) you could be hit by a bus or fall off scaffolding and b) up until other people got rich we just dealt with floods and famines as best we could.

Nobody goes abroad to live in a doss house. They go abroad to get wealthy. They may be misguided in thinking that they can, but that doesn't stop them. And who can blame them? Capitalism destroys traditional ways of life and in return offers the hope of prosperity - but it depends on resource individuals to make themselves prosperous. That's the name of the game.

And so lots of people will adopt lots of different strategies to try to get rich. Some will go to university, some will come to the UAE to earn money. Some will come to the UAE to earn money to go to university. Some will come to the UAE to earn money to go to university and end up pulling a scam and end up going to jail and being deported.

You can't generalise - everyone will just do their different things because we've given them the bug to get rich.

BD said...

I was just talking to another Indian friend today who has been here as a laborer for about 8 years. He mentioned that he'll go back to India after a year and stay at least a year then return. So I asked him why doesn't he go to school part time while he's there to get more qualifications. He said he would. I also asked him about continuing education--if it were possible for an adult to get his secondary school certificate. He said not in the village, but in the city nearby. I asked him what he thought about doing that as well. He said maybe he could. I suggested if he did, he wouldn't need to return to the UAE with the assistance of an agent but could rather apply on the basis of his qualifications--or a visit visa from me. He agreed this was possible.

So, I guess it's largely a question of how willing people are to take the time to prepare themselves for coming.

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