War With Hamas Rages On, Haryana Looks To Send 10,000 Labourers To Israel

The government has said it is looking to prevent workers from being cheated by travel agents.


Struggling with a high unemployment rate, the Haryana government has released an advertisement recruiting 10,000 construction workers who will be sent to Israel, a country that has been locked in a war with Hamas for over two months and faces an acute shortage of labourers. 

The advertisement has been criticised both by some workers and the opposition, who have slammed the state for considering sending Indians to a “warzone”. It was posted just a day after the Ministry of External Affairs informed Parliament that no discussions have been held with Israel regarding a possible replacement of Palestinian construction workers with Indians.

The Haryana government has, however, defended the move, saying that the aim was to ensure that travel agents cannot fleece people by offering them jobs in other countries and that there is no compulsion for labourers to go to Israel if they are not comfortable doing so.

According to the health ministry in Gaza, at least 19,600 people – most of them women and children – have been killed in Israeli attacks on the strip of land since October 7, when Hamas launched a multi-pronged attack on the Jewish country, killing around 1,200 civilians. Around 240 people had also been taken hostage.

Employment Dilemma

The advertisement, which appeared in some newspapers on December 15, was issued by the Haryana Kaushal Rojgar Nigam, a state public sector company. It comes at a time when Haryana has the highest unemployment rate in the country, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), and Israel is facing a massive shortage of construction workers because of the cancellation of work permits of around 90,000 Palestinians.

The unemployment rate in Haryana was 2.9 per cent in 2013-14 (when the Congress was in power), which increased to 9 per cent in 2021-22.  As of July 31, 2023, 5.44 lakh unemployed youth have been registered with employment exchanges in the state

Data from the CMIE, released in January this year, showed that, at 37.4 per cent Haryana had the highest unemployment rate in India, compared to the national unemployment rate of 8.3 per cent. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP has dismissed the CMIE data and pointed to recruitments in the Staff Selection Commission and Haryana Public Service Commission, among others, to buttress his claims of providing employment. 

The Punjab and Haryana High Court order last month, which struck down a 2020 law providing 75% reservation in private jobs to residents of Haryana, has also opened up the Khattar government to criticism over youth not getting employment.

‘Give Us Jobs Here’

A worker from Kurukshetra said the government should give them jobs in India. “Israel is involved in a war, why is the government sending us there? The government keeps saying that our country is becoming wealthy,” said Chandan, a construction worker. 

The opposition has also trained its guns on the BJP-led government in Haryana.  “Everyone knows Israel is a warzone. The state government should give our youth jobs in Haryana itself,” said Congress MLA Neeraj Sharma. 

Government’s Take

The Haryana government has pointed out that its aim was to prevent cheating and people don’t have to go to Israel if they don’t want to. 

“This is a unique initiative by the government, which will ensure that travel agents can’t fleece people. We receive complaints about that every day. There is no compulsion to go to Israel, it’s only for people who want to go,” said Haryana Education Minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar. 

In response to a query by Congress MP KC Venugopal, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had told the Rajya Sabha on December 14 that the Centre has not held any discussions with Israel regarding a possible replacement of Palestinian labourers with Indian workers.

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