Friday, October 21, 2011

Libya: How Will It Work for Indians?

Finally, Gaddafi is a dead guy. Libya is freed. A new era beckons the liberated country.

Even as celebrations erupt, questions are being raised over new challenges that Libya now faces: repairing the war-torn nation,  building a new economy,besides new systems of education, democracy and health.
My head is, however, clouded with one question: what about the 18,000 Indians who lived and worked in Libya not so long ago, earning  a living? Will the new Libya be just as warm to welcome them back?

In February, the government of India had evacuated them from different Libyan towns: Tripoli, Sirte, Misurata, Benghazi and Kufrah. While some worked for the Libyan government (specially health, infrastructure and oil ministry), most were employed with Indian companies. Indian companies like Oil India Limited, ONGC Videsh, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Punj Lloyd, D.S Construction, Unitech, Shapoorji Pallonji International, NIIT and Sun Pharma all operated in Libya before the war.
Will they be back now? In the new regime, will the situation be as conducive as it was before, for Indian companies to operate, or will there be a favoritism towards non-Indian companies?

 India has played its part well in recent weeks, first by supporting Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) led by Mustafa Abdel Jalil and then by giving $1 million in aid to Libya through the United Nations. 
Will this now bear fruits? If yes, how long will it take before the Indians can go back to Libya again? 
(PS: There are over 5 million Indians working in the Middle East. A stone falls anywhere and at least one Indian is bound to get hurt!)

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