Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday once again came to the aid of Indians stranded abroad, this time hundreds of them in Saudi Arabia. In a series of posts on micro-blogging site Twitter, she let Indians know not only that 800 of their brethren were jobless and starving in Saudi Arabia, but also the steps her ministry was taking to help them out.
It all started with an individual by the name Imran Khokhar tweeting to Swaraj that 800 Indians were without food and water for three days in the Saudi city of Jeddah. They were all apparently employees of the Saudi Oger Ltd, a privately-owned construction company. Khokhar was one of the people stranded there.
Within a matter of hours, Swaraj tweeted back, saying she had asked the Indian Embassy in Jeddah to provide these people food. In her next tweet, she said Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Gen (retd) VK Singh would be heading out to Saudi Arabia to "sort out all such matters."
In her very next tweet, she said MJ Akbar, who had recently been appointed as MoS for External Affairs, was "taking up this matter" with the Saudi authorities. She later posted that Akbar would discuss similar situations of Indians in Kuwait as well.
Many people from India end up in Gulf countries in search of work, without any guarantee that it would last. They are often mistreated, and Swaraj has come to their aid more than once.
That suffering of these people was highlighted by Swaraj in another set of tweets. She first said: "Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages closed down their factories. [sic]" Observers speculate that this could be due to the economic slowdown many oil-producing countries are facing as a result of the lower prices of oil, which is affecting their economies and their growth.
Swaraj went on to say: "As a result [of not being paid or losing jobs] our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship [sic]." She added: "While situation in Kuwait is manageable, matters are much worse in Saudi Arabia."
She ended with a tone of finality: "I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis. [sic]"
Swaraj later retweeted photos of the stranded Indians in Saudi Arabia being given food packets. The tweets had initially been posted by the Consulate General of India in Jeddah.