NRI: 79 Indians in Gulf debt trap commit suicide

79 Indians in Gulf debt trap commit suicide

Daniel P George | TNN

Chennai: The Gulf dream seems to have become a death trap for Indians, with 79 of them committing suicide this year alone in the UAE due to mounting debts. Most of the victims belonged to Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

‘‘In 2006, 109 people committed suicide. The number rose to 118 in 2007. This year, from January to June, 79 Indians have killed themselves,’’ Manish Kumar Sinha of the Indian consulate in Dubai told TOI. According to voluntary organizations working among the less fortunate in Dubai, as many as 23 of the victims belonged to TN. The rest were from Kerala and other states.

K V Shamsudheen, chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, said suicide among Indian expatriates has been on the rise since 2003. According to figures put out by the Indian consulate early this month, 40 suicide cases were recorded in 2003, 70 in 2004 and 84 in 2005.

‘‘On an average we get two calls a day from people who are severely depressed. In 75% of the cases, the depression is due to financial crisis which they are not able to share with others,’’ said Shamsudeen.

The Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust has formed another trust, named Sandwanam (consolation), with the aim to reduce suicides among Indians in the UAE.

In ’07, 118 Indians in UAE committed suicide; the toll was 109 in ’06 .In 75% of the cases, the trigger is depression caused by financial burden. Under pressure from family to send home money, they incur loans.

While banks charge up to 8%, the interest rate is 30% on credit cards. Individual lenders charge 72% to 120% Family pressure leading to suicides
Chennai: The Gulf dream seems to have turned sour as 79 Indians, most of them belonging to TN and Kerala, ended their lives as they fell into vicious debt traps.

‘‘When a person arrives in a Gulf country, he is already in debt after spending money on visa and travel. And even before he can settle down, his family back home starts putting pressure on him to send money,’’ Shamsudheen said.

The main sources of debt, according to him, are bank loans, credit cards and individual illegal lenders. The interest rates vary. While banks charge up to 8% for loans, the rate can go up to 30% on credit cards. Individual lenders charge as high as 72% to 120%.

‘‘The family back home starts spending lavishly without considering the financial situation of the breadwinner,’’ said Shamshudeen. According to him, when people run out of money, their first option is to get a loan from the bank. When they can’t pay back the loan, they apply for credit cards. And when they reach their borrowing limit on the card, they turn to private lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates.

‘‘In some cases the minimum payment on credit cards is more than their monthly salary. Such cases are increasing by the day,’’ Shamsudheen added. The UAE is home to about 1.5 million Indian nationals. Construction workers account for the majority of the Indian migrant workforce, constituting 42.5% of the labour force.

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