The recent surge in suicides in Oman by Indian expats has become a cause for concern among Omanis.
While such incidents were taking place before as well, there has been a spurt in the number of suicides reported recently, which reflects the dominant thinking among Indian expats in Oman.
Over the years, the cost of living in India has gone up and providing for a family in India is not the same as it was, owing to rising inflation in the country. In order to manage income and remit some of it to India, an expat in Oman has to first deal with rising costs in Oman and the reality of shrinking salaries for blue-collared workers, which haven’t changed much despite the fillip in cost of living.
In addition to this, the drop in oil prices has forced Omani employers to cut increments and bonuses and also hire people at reduced salaries, which has placed enormous pressure on Indian expats, especially those who are hired for a low income.
This leads to greater more mental stress, which is intensified by the rigours of working in the harsh climatic conditions of the Sultanate.
Any additional pressure can lead to depression and can create a critical situation for an employee.
At the outset, the onus lies with the companies hiring expats. They should ensure that all human resource parameters are met with to make sure employees, especially blue collar workers or low income employees are taken care of and that any sort of signs of depression are identified, filtered and that companies hire specialised psychiatrists to deal with such problems of employees.
The best solution for depression, which is common among most of the expats, especially Indian expats living and working here without families, is regular counselling to support them mentally and to help them cope with the condition.
All companies should adopt counselling programmes and engage employees to condition them as per these situations and bring about a change in their mental and physical condition.
Also, the relevant government authorities should also make sure that the living conditions of expats, and those at labour camps are adequate. Given the harsh climate conditions, the work environment should be properly maintained and working hours be kept reasonable.
Companies should also introduce welfare programmes for expats as this would help boost employees’ morale.
A big responsibility also lies with the Indian Social Club, which should also organise programmes for the welfare of expats, offering a strong framework of support, with the help of the online expat community, which has strongly responded to the need of the hour, along with the concern expressed by the Indian Ambassador, Indra Mani Pandey. - Exclusive to Times of Oman