Millennium Post

Note ban plays scissors, clips Gulf job aspirants’ wings

A place in Delhi called Bharat Nagar, just near New Friends Colony houses many manpower consultants and agents who send Indian workers mostly to Gulf Cooperation Council Countries. The business is slow as the demonetisation has had its toll on the footfall in the agents’ offices.

A middle aged man Akhter stands outside the office of the recruiting agent holding some white sheets of paper. He says that demonetisation has badly affected his plans to fly abroad for a living.

“I was supposed to fly to Dubai on November 13 but could not arrange the money. The old notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 are not in use and its difficult to get the new currency considering the long queues at the banks. I am trying again now;” says Akhter, a resident of Siwan in Bihar.

Akhter is not alone, Ram Babu has travelled all the way from Kolkata to Delhi. Sitting in the park outside the agent’s office, he has befriended some people who too are completing formalities to travel abroad.

“I have applied as a JCB operator in Kuwait. The bank in Kolkata gave me just Rs 10,000 of which 1,500 has been spent in medical fitness certificate and some in travelling. The agent told me to deposit Rs 10,000 by today (Saturday).. I could arrange only Rs 5,000. My plans could be ruined,” said Ram Babu.

The park outside the offices that often used to be flooded with foreign job aspirants bears a deserted look now. Now, applicants are seen sitting in a group of three and four. Almost all of them have problems to tell. Many aspirants come from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh apart from other parts of the country.

Another man came upto this reporter and said: “One of my relative missed a flight on November 12. His Visa was expiring on December 5. Three of his relatives lined up in separate bank queues so that the money could be arranged. He too was standing in the ATM queue for the past eight days. He managed to board the flight today (Saturday). We are relieved.”

On visiting the offices of the agents, this reporter found that they were hardly any visitors. “We have seen a drop of 80 per cent in business after demonetisation. Earlier, our phones kept ringing. Now, I have enough time to talk to you. There are many whose flights had been cancelled at the last moment. We arranged money for some on their parents’ and villagers’ guarantee,” says Zameer who runs a manpower consultancy in the area.

Even the photo copy business in the same building has been hit. “Earlier, I use to make around Rs 800-1000 per day. Job applicants rushed in to get their bio data printed and photo copied. Now, around Rs 200 is all I can make in a day,” says Zubair, who runs a xerox shop.
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