Indian job prospects in the Maldives hit

Indian job prospects in the Maldives hit

But for some like 31-year-old registered male nurse Thomas Jacob*, time is running out, as the manager of a resort that hired him now says he will not hold his job beyond July 1. He says his “only hope” is to have his voice heard by the External Affairs Ministry in Delhi, and spends “morning, noon and night” at his hometown in Kerala tweeting to Minister Sushma Swaraj and emailing officials concerned.

Banking on Minister

Mr. Jacob had been working at a hospital in Male when he was recruited as a nurse at an upscale resort in January. He accepted the job, and decided to return home for a brief holiday to see his four-year-old son and pregnant wife, while his work permit was being sorted out.

“My entire family, my parents all depend on me and now I can’t even pay my life insurance premium or my loans back. Ms. Swaraj listens to all sorts of requests from people, and hundreds of us have been mass-tweeting her for days hoping she will do something,” he told The Hindu .

“Frankly, it’s my last hope, as I have no job options here,” he said.

The Maldivian Embassy in Delhi declined to comment on the issue. On March 12, Immigration Department spokesman Hassan Khaleel told the Maldives’Independent newspaper that reports of visa delays for Indians were “completely false”.

However, officials who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity said they estimate thousands of Indians face a squeeze on their work permits from the Maldivian government in place since February, and there appeared to be a “strict directive” from the Maldivian President’s office against work permits to Indians, as well as against facilitating other requests from Indian companies there. Around 29,000 Indians live and work in the Maldives, and an estimated 2,000 have pending applications for work permits.

India-Maldives ties have been on the downswing since 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his visit to Male over the treatment of Opposition leaders by President Yameen. Since then, China’s growing presence and a free trade agreement with Beijing as well as President Yameen’s emergency declaration and arrest of Opposition leaders have led to protests from India, further straining ties.

On Tuesday, The Hindu reported that the Maldives had told India to remove its helicopters from two strategic locations by the end of June, when visas of Indian Coast Guard and naval pilots and personnel manning the choppers will expire.

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