Ghazanfar Ali Khan | Arab News dot com
RIYADH: As part of an ambitious plan to ensure better working conditions for workers, India is negotiating with the Saudi government to fix Minimum Wages for its hundreds of thousands of blue-collar work force.
Some Gulf states have already agreed or even signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for Minimum wages, but the Saudi side has so far resisted Indian attempts to endorse the agreement that will fix the minimum salaries of Indian workers.
“We have discussed the issue of minimum wages with the Saudi side but no decision has been taken as of yet,” said outgoing Ambassador M.O.H. Farook, speaking at his farewell party hosted by the Indian community here on Sunday.
Farook also met Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on Sunday to say goodbye on the completion of his tenure. The farewell function at the International Indian School, Riyadh (IISR), was followed by a dinner reception hosted by Nadeem Tarin, a prominent businessman and a social activist, at his residence.
Asked about the status of the MoU to fix minimum wages, Farook said that the wage figures should be realistic and they should reflect conditions in each of the countries of the Gulf where workers are employed.
“This wage issue would now be followed by my successor,” he added. Though the salary-level needs to be linked with the cost of living prevalent in each of the countries concerned, a monthly salary of $300 to $400 is a figure most Indian missions in the Gulf are comfortable with, said a report. Asked about the progressively growing relations between India and Saudi Arabia, Farook said that “there was still scope to develop better understanding to further strengthen already robust ties.”
“Our bilateral political relations got a boost with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah’s visit to India in 2006,” he added. Yet, we have to go a long way, he said. He explained that India had great potential. “India tops in telecom, medical facilities and professionals like engineers and technicians ...what we need is a perfect understanding between the two countries,” he added.
Saudi Arabia and India have forged closer ties on the commercial front.
“India was among the top seven trading partners of the Kingdom, with bilateral trade exceeding $15 billion and Indian companies the fifth biggest investors in the country,” said the outgoing Indian envoy who has had a distinguished political career spanning more than four decades.
Farook, prior to his arrival in the Kingdom as Indian ambassador, served as chief minister of the Indian state of Pondicherry for three terms and also in various capacities in the government of India.
Farook, whose tenure saw frequent exchange of visits of high-profile officials, including the historic visit of King Abdullah to India, has the distinction to bring Saudi-Indian relations to a new high. Farook has also served as India’s union minister of state for civil aviation.
He is one of the few parliamentarians who got elected to the Lower House of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) for three terms. A political and social worker by profession, Farook has also made noteworthy contributions for the welfare of women and upliftment of the downtrodden.