Dogs are famous not only for their faithfulness and ferocity, but also for their helplessness and servitude as well. Barring a minority of dogs with European pedigree most of the other dogs in the world fall into the category of either underdogs or now, slumdogs. Both have only sad stories to tell and it is no surprise that their counterparts in the human society are becoming more vocal, visible and violent in recent times. In the bigger canvas of national and international dimensions, all slumdog humans are essentially underdogs in their environment and fields of activity. The simple fact that a few slumdogs from the infamous Dharavi slum in Mumbai could dance onstage in the famous Kotak theatre during the Oscar awards does not alter their ground realities. Those poor children will soon return to their homes amidst all depredation and feeling of unwantedness.
The unprecedented success of slumdog movie will help in focusing our attention of many other types of underdogs prevalent in the current Indian context. One such growing category of underdogs in the last few decades is the case of Indians in the Gulf. The entire Middle East region is now flooded with fortune seekers from the Asian subcontinent and the physical & psychological condition of a majority of them are nothing but that of underdogs. The nouveau riche Arab nations in the Gulf have been enjoying the fruits of highly talented labour force from India at abysmally low charges for almost three decades now. No doubt, India and Indians have benefitted quite a lot in terms of huge foreign exchange remittances and avenues for employment in these Gulf nations. But no one can deny the fact that such prolonged periods of working in closely monitored working conditions have produced a new breed of underdogs and let us name them as ‘gulfdogs’. And many such gulfdogs have managed to become billionaires too.
Living conditions of Indians in the Gulf labour camps was a hot topic that was catching up just prior to the start of the current melt down. Flock of politicians and social activists from India were aiming to harvest some attention highlighting the condition of Indian gulfdogs in these labour camps when the meltdown tsunami waves swept away their plans. The biggest concentration of such notorious camps is in UAE and most of them will be deserted in the next few months time. The condition of labour camps in many of the other Gulf states is even worse but it will never attract the same attention as the Dubai charm for Indian politicians. Much tougher access and almost complete opaque human rights conditions will make it difficult for anyone to even witness the reality in these camps. If the notorious Gulf labour camps represent the heights of physical atrocities, the unquestioning atmosphere prevalent in offices and business sector symbolize the peculiar form of modern day slavery that is unique in the Middle East.
South Asia provides the major chunk of labour force and the bulwark of official and business hierarchy in the Gulf countries. A majority of them are Indians and a majority of Indians come from Kerala. Thus Keralites (Malabaris to the Arabs) constitute the bulk of gulfdogs in the Middle East. Thanks to the high literacy levels in Kerala, a significant section of gulfdogs are educated and qualified. Even among the working category, the Malabari gulfdogs stand out as intelligent, literate and skilful. While the slavish hierarchy in the workforce is quite evident, the same mentality is subtle in the office and business. Most of the owners are Arabs but those who wield the real power are either Whites or other Arabic speaking nationals. And at the very bottom of the hierarchy you will invariably find gulfdogs who contribute the maximum but benefit the minimum. Their virtual image (in three piece suits) looks impressive but the real condition of most of them is indeed pathetic.
Crabs, like dogs, are a set of animals that correlate well with humans in behavior. There is a saying that crabs, held in captivity, in a large glass container need not be covered at all. It is difficult for anyone to climb on glass walls, but in the case of crabs it is impossible because each one of them will pull down the other who is trying to escape. It is quite natural to have this sort of crabbish mentality in any society where the struggle for survival and success is at its peak. Gulf scenario is an opportunity for making quick bucks and the crabbish mentality reaches great proportions among the vast population of gulfdogs. It must be no better among the more qualified tech-coolies in Europe and America as well. But the modus operandi will be more subtle and polished among them when compared to the gulfdogs. Outright cheating, backstabbing and faith betrayal are much more common among gulfdogs than among any other community. Recent instance of one highly successful slumdog billionaire arranging barber training in India for Arabs to backstab his own fellow gulfdog barbers is a revealing one. And the story ends with the said gulfdog billionaire bagging “Pravsai Samman” from Government of India !! Another one has recently been awarded for increasing the fees in Indian schools by a whopping 300%.
There are legendary episodes of betrayals among gulfdogs which are unbelievable. When success or failure of years of toil comes to a choice between standing by or betraying another gulfdog, most of the gulfdogs fall for the devil. Most of the businesses run by gulfdogs are built on such betrayals. It is said most of the hypermarkets, hospitals, hospitalities, money exchanges, gold businesses, contracting companies are built on tainted money which gets more tainted by the sweat and blood of fellow gulfdogs. Many gulfdogs have become lakhpatis, millionaires and billionaires in the process. Just a few examples in gold business (profit margin is merely 1%) where scores of gulfdog billionaires have come up in a span of one decade is good enough to highlight the extent of loot by billionaire gulfdogs of fellow gulfdogs. It is a typical DED(dog-eat-dog) syndrome at its heights.
Kerala has the biggest share of gulfdogs and naturally the highest number of gulfdog billionaires. Every district in the state has atleast one or a few such ‘success’ stories. Many of them have struggled their way up by buttering Arabs and looting fellow gulfdogs. For the Arabs, all Asians are gulfdogs but many of the gulfdogs who understand their language well misunderstand the attitude of masters. Arabs were quick to recognize this opportunity and have institutionalized systems where gulfdogs are employed to spy and pry on fellow gulfdogs. It can be easily established that atleast a few of the gulfdog billionaires have made it thanks to their shameless efforts in betraying their own countrymen and country. Another movie titled ‘Gulfdog Billionaire’ will definitely yield a truck load of Oscars for India.