Appeal to the Indian migrant workers in the Arab world

The situation in the Arab world today and the Indian migrant workers there:

The Arab world today is in the throes of a revolutionary situation. Whilst world attention has been mainly focused on the popular mass of demonstrators and protestors driving the popular national revolutions everywhere, a vital section of the masses – the migrant working class – has been completely neglected. Today there are over 12 million migrant workers in the eastern gulf. 8.4 million of them are from the sub-continent. In the eastern gulf region (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait) the mostly Indian migrant workers constitute the bulk of the working class population. In North Africa they constitute a significant segment of the population numbering 5.4 million.

These migrant workers have long been denied their rights as workers. Taking advantage of their position as migrant workers, the regimes of the Arab countries have exploited them to the hilt. Particularly the domestic servants who are forced to live under slave like conditions. These regimes are in active connivance with their class partners, the Indian bourgeoisie, in exploiting the migrant workers. Whilst the Indian bourgeoisie encourages the free flow of migrant labour to gulf countries and opens up the market to its neighboring countries as well, the economies of these hated regimes are kept afloat by a steady flow of both skilled and unskilled labour, and in return provide the Indian bourgeoisie its much desired oil. The US of course plays its part in securing this callous capitalist bargain (wage-slaves for oil) through its military infrastructure in the region. This chain of capitalism ties in the economies of the Gulf to the economies of the sub-continent. The migrant labourers themselves provide a free bonus for the Indian capitalist class as they send home billions of dollars as overseas remittances.

How do the Indian workers relate to the Arab revolutions?

What we are seeing today is a string of national popular revolutions in the process of toppling hated proxy regimes of imperialism. These revolutions are not yet at an advanced stage of socialist consciousness but are at the level of understanding of a popular and national uprising against imperialism. This is reflected in the passive response of the Indian masses to these revolutionary developments. However, each of these revolutions in the ultimate analysis is heading towards a socialist revolution. This is particularly so in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, where the regimes have already been heavily punished.

The necessity of working class leadership in a socialist revolution is indisputable, and this is no less true for the Arab revolution. But here a vast section of the working class is comprised of migrant workers, mostly Indian. It is obvious that this substantial population has a decisive role to play in the Arab revolution and particularly  in the Eastern Gulf. To no small extent, the key to the future of the Arab revolution as a socialist revolution lies in the hands of the Indian migrant workers.

However, the dialectics of current revolutionary developments are not playing out favorably in this regard, and the Indian workers remain passive observers. There is tremendous potential energy to be released but no visible kinetic energy being released in revolutionary movement. This passivity of the Indian working class in relation to  revolutionary developments in the Arab world, (as recently as 2007 there was open revolt in Kuwait) yet again reflects the absence of revolutionary leadership in the class struggle. The passivity must not be seen as a negative sign of wilful ignorance or segregation from the Arab revolution, but as a silent call for revolutionary leadership. As long as the revolutions in the Arab world remain national and popular in nature, the migrant workers will not find the much needed common ground for solidarity with their Arab class allies.

The Arab revolution, the Asian revolution, the Indian revolution and the migrant workers:

The position of the Indian migrant workers in the Arab world situates them in a  strategically vital position. They are at the same time the concrete expression of an undeniable cultural, economical and political connection with India and a force to be reckoned with in the Arab peninsula. Thus they connect two vital regions of the Asian continent with a unified albeit invisible human chain. The present revolutionary situation presents a golden opportunity for struggle for this mass of workers in the Arab world. The revolutionary developments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere provide a unique opportunity to the migrant workers to intensify their long but ignored struggle for class demands, thus allowing them to be linked in with the revolutionary processes unfolding in the Arab world.

This in turn would of course open up the possibility of the of the Arab revolution spreading to the sub-continent, and from there to the rest of Asia. What holds back the Indian migrant population, apart from the crippling conditions imposed by autocratic regimes in the Arab world, is the lack of conscious revolutionary Marxist leadership in the struggle. This also means that a much needed internationalist perspective is lacking in the Arab revolution and that there is a universal incomprehension of its real dimensions. If on the other hand conscious Marxist leadership emerges in the ranks of the migrant workers themselves, this would immediately benefit the Arabs in their struggle by bringing all these factors to the fore.

Our Appeal to our Class brothers in the Arab world:

There are times in history when golden opportunities arise and provide a huge impulse in the revolutionary struggle. For the Indian workers in the gulf the rise of a pan-Arab revolution provides just such a golden opportunity. For too long their rights have been denied and for too long the capitalists enslaving the Indian sub-continent have colluded with the criminal regimes that exploit them. For many years they have been struggling against their conditions. But now the time is special as the Arab world is in the throes of revolution. One large mobilization today will have a thousand times greater impact than it would under more ‘peaceful’ conditions.

The Indian workers have so far only seen the ravaging, bloodthirsty faces of their Arab exploiters and enslavers and the hated regimes of the countries they reside in. But today they see another face of the Arab people, one that promises revolutionary emancipation. It would be foolish to lose such a golden opportunity because of any false prejudice towards the Arab people arising from their hate for the exploiters and their regimes. We warn Our Indian class brothers in the gulf against such suspicions and prejudices, for they inevitably help the exploiters in dividing the Arab people from their best allies, the Indian migrant working class! Now is the time for solidarity. If you demand your rights now at this decisive juncture, you will be greeted by unconditional support from the Arab masses and they would cheer you on and defend you in your struggle.

For full freedom to organize and agitate!

For full working rights and benefits! No one is a migrant! No to discrimination!

For decent, safe and proper conditions for work!

Health, education and welfare for all!

No to racist chauvinist divisions between Arabs and migrants! For class Solidarity!

Long live the struggles of Arab and Indian people! For Class solidarity across Nations!

Out with the monarchy! For a government of workers, peasants and all democratic forces!

2 Responses to Appeal to the Indian migrant workers in the Arab world

  1. neprimerimye says:

    Having been asked to comment on the above article by a New Wave comrade I would like to begin by saying that I think this piece has the very great merit of addressing a question, that of migrant workers in the Arab world, that is almost totally ignored in the bourgeois media. That is certainly the case here in Britain where material concerning Arab migrants working in countries not their own is non-existent. Indeed because it is in the interests of imperialism to divide the working class I suspect that such materials are rare even in the Arab world.

    As a preliminary analysis the article is good but I do feel that more work needs to be done to explore the connections between the Indian capitalist class and the Petrocracies, most of all those of the GCC, as to how they are linked. For example who are the Indian companies and capitalists who make profits out of Indian migrant workers and how do they do it? And again to what degree is Arab oil money playing a role in the transformation of Indian capitalism?

    You correctly note the presence of Indian migrant workers in both the GCC countries and in North Africa. But there are major differences between these two regions and the political economies of the states concerned. Although it must be noted that the political economy of Libya has similarities with the GCC countries that are almost totally missing in the rest of North Africa. Given which I suspect that it would be far easier for Indian workers to sympathize and even join the revolutionary process in countries like Egypt and Algeria that have a proletariat which is both Arab and relatively autonomous of the state machine. I would contrast this to the situation in the GCC countries where almost the entire proletariat consists of migrant workers with the exception of a privileged layer that has long since been co-opted by the oil rich regimes. Although it is possible that so called Saudi Arabia might be an exception in this hence its very obvious worries over Bahrain these last few days – the infection must not spread!


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