Bangladesh and other South Asian nations have long benefited from and in some cased depended upon millions of dollars in receipts from nationals working in the Arab Gulf States.  A prestigious security conference here in March placed the future of those receipts in jeopardy.  United Arab Emirates (UAE) analyst, Ebtisam Al Kitbi warned that millions of laborers from South Asia endanger the Gulf States’ security and urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to take immediate action. Al Kitbi warned the GCC of a growing “demographic imbalance” in favor of foreign workers who can be expected to demand political rights in the Gulf.

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Hundreds of guest workers from India have begun protesting work conditions at a shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi owned by the company Signal International. We hear from one Indian guestworker who tried to commit suicide after he was fired and told he was being shipped back to India after going public with his complaints. We also speak with a Mexican guestworker who says his Louisiana employer confiscated his passport and subjected him to humiliating conditions and treatment.

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Why does Biju Mathews, a native of Hyderabad and Associate Professor of Computer and Information Systems at Rider University in New Jersey, reject the stereotype of the academician, spending a good chunk of his time at the favorite haunts of South Asian taxi drivers in New York? As an academician he could have lived in one of the city’s posh white-collar communities, leading a nondescript model minority immigrant life. Instead he has chosen to make his home in America’s ultimate melting pot, next door to Afro-Americans and Latinos in Harlem. Why?

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South Asian Activism Shatters Image Of Affluence

There is the increasingly familiar image of a rising, highly educated, affluent and politically connected group. Last September, for example, President Bill Clinton raised $1.4 million for the Democratic National Committee at two Indian American fundraisers on one evening here. Two days later, however, over 300 Indian and Pakistani cab drivers practically shut down South San Jose with a procession protesting the mugging death of driver Daljit Singh. The significant number of South Asian blue-collar workers–there are about 600 cabbies in the Valley–and their activism seem to have attracted little public attention.

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South Asian farmworkers in British Columbia mounted a historic struggle for dignity and justice in the 1970s and 80s. Their mobilization, documented in the film “A Time To Rise,” was against exploitative and unsafe working conditions and against the farm owners who used these conditions to turn a profit. However, since that time, after the Canadian Farmworkers Union was effectively dismantled by government funding for less militant and less grassroots programs, this often invisible sector of workers is still searching for justice. This week three workers were killed and several injured in a van accident – an accident that could have been prevented with basic safety standards. Many have warned and expressed concern about the lack of safety for and abuse of farmworkers but the current government has ignored these concerned while actually cutting funding for safety inspectors. The tradegy not only demonstrates the criminal nature of these working conditions but the need recreate militant grassroots organizing efforts that empower the workers to fight for their own rights.

A general strike called by a regional group seeking a federal system of government in Nepal has crippled life across the southern Terai plains. The latest strike by Madheshi protesters has already affected goods and fuel supplies across Nepal. Madheshis make up 33-45% of Nepal’s population of 27 million but are vastly under-represented in government and the army, which tend to be dominated by hill-dwellers.

(click here to read more from BBC

Diplomat Held Us as Suburban ‘Slaves’

Three former servants are suing a Kuwaiti diplomat, alleging that he treated them like slaves in his suburban home in Washington, D.C. The workers are poor women from India, and they say the diplomat worked them for more than 15 hours a day. They also claim his wife beat one of them repeatedly. But even if the women can to prove their charges, they will have a difficult time winning their case: The Kuwaitis deny the accusations and say they have diplomatic immunity.

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