The Long March: Chinese Workers in India

Indian media has reported recently on the proliferation of Chinese laborers working in the country for Chinese firms in violation of visa rules. Outlook India published a lengthy report on the topic:

It’s after sundown in Chandankiyari, a village near Bokaro in Jharkhand, and the only sound audible is of howling hyenas in the distance. But strain the ears and you catch snatches of a foreign movie playing. The film, strangely, is in Mandarin and it’s for the benefit of the hundreds of Chinese workers here at the site for a steel plant. Watching one of their movies on the big screen is a relaxing way to end the day.

They are not alone. Across the country, several thousands of Chinese workers are at work on infrastructure projects bagged by Chinese contractors. But the arrangement is not without controversy—the hordes of unskilled/semi-skilled imports from China are taking jobs from the unemployed Indian. One estimate put their total number—skilled and unskilled together—at around 25,000. Things have come to a head of late—at least three instances of xenophobic violence have been reported between Indian and Chinese workers in less than a year. Differences arise notably out of language problems and the “obscene” pay disparities—domestic workers get Rs 87 a day while a Chinese co-worker, according to one account from an Indian worker, gets Rs 1,700 a day. Things get that much more tricky because these workers are here in complete violation of Indian visa guidelines which prohibit entry of such labour.

The report also includes a comparison of the treatment of Indian and Chinese workers employed by Chinese firms:

Our Workers

* Paid minimum wage, takes home Rs 87 per day after deductions
* Have no uniforms
* Enjoy no added benefits
* Considered not equally “efficient”
* Speak no English or Mandarin

***

Their Workers

* Chinese co-worker said to earn Rs 1,700 a day
* Have uniforms with bright colours
* Live in AC barracks with Chinese food and TV
* ”Dedicated” and “deadline-oriented”
* Speak no Hindi or English

Also, from Indian Express, see “Visa rules take Chinese off apple belt road project, Himachal govt upset”:

The Centre’s decision to insist on employment visas for Chinese workers in has upset the government of Himachal Pradesh where, in the Theog-Rohru apple cultivation belt, Chinese workers and engineers have been made to stop work on a road project, key to the shelf life of the state’s famed produce.

China-based Longjian Road and Bridge Company Limited had been awarded a contract by the Himachal Pradesh government to construct an 80-km road.

October 31, 2009 4:45 PM
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