New Delhi, Mar 27: Energy giant Qatar is home to around 6,00,000 Indian nationals, comprising the largest expatriate community there. While many are employed in professional and managerial positions, large numbers work in low-income construction jobs, where they are vulnerable to abuse at the hands of their sponsors.
Qatar has widely been criticised for alleged exploitation of migrant labourers, mainly from Nepal and India, employed in the construction industry in recent years.
The international and local human rights groups and unions for treatment of the workers, including forcing them to relinquish their passports, banning them from travel without their employer's permission, low wages, poor living conditions within workers accommodation and unsafe working conditions.
The murky system of recruitment brokers in Asia and labour contractors in Qatar leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.
At least 277 Indians died in Qatar last year, following 241 in 2013 and 237 in 2012, according to the Indian embassy in Doha.
Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, despite rising plight of Indian labourers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to take up the issue with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, emir of energy-rich emirate of Qatar during his two-day visit to New Delhi this week.
During his visit, India and Qatar inked six agreements, including one on transfer of sentenced prisoners.
The six agreements, besides transfer of sentenced prisoners, are:
MoU for Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology.
MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for Scientific and Technical cooperation.
MoU between Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar and Foreign Service Institute of the ministry of external affairs.
MoU for cooperation in the field of Radio and Television.
Agreement for Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News.
South Asian countries must insist their citizens are granted their rights and benefits as per international obligations.
"Qatar has big investment plans for India," he said in an interview with Times of India but particularly he did not say anything about worsening situation of Indian labourers.
When Narendra Modi government will take up a wake-up call? Or they have been left on god's mercy?
However in response to global outcry, Qatar's government announced labour market reforms designed to improve the treatment of foreign workers, although some of its most controversial practices remain in place.