PUNE: Thousands of Indian engineers in Kuwait are fearing job losses, as the Kuwait government has announced an amendment to the academic qualification norms.
According to renewed norms, visas will be provided to those engineers who have degree certificates from colleges in India recognised by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) only. While the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM), Kuwait has announced that it is mandatory to obtain NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE) for renewing work permits. The KSE has stated that only those engineers who have studied in colleges recognised by the NBA will be given NOC, as per the Washington Accord of the Indian government.
Interestingly, only 15-20 per cent of engineering colleges in India have the NBA accreditation. Moreover, the NBA is not as popular as other accreditations in India, said Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).
Since March 2018, several Indian engineers in Kuwait have been approaching the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Minitsry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) and AICTE requesting them to interfere in the matter. Visas of many of them are to lapse in 2019.
“Till February 2018, it was all smooth sailing for these engineers. In March 2018, suddenly, a new rule was made. When people started approaching the KSE, they insisted on degree certificates from the colleges which are recognised by NBA only. Many of us have completed our degrees before 2010 when the NBA was not applicable to colleges. While there are a few who have passed from colleges affiliated to the AICTE and have the NAAC recognition, they are also in a fix,” said an engineer on condition of anonymity.
Another engineer said, “Many people approached both KSE and PAM to reconsider their decision. But they were told that it is the information provided to Kuwait by the Indian government.
Hence, we also approached the Indian embassy in Kuwait to help us as many of us are about to lose our jobs. There are several families settled here. Many of us have taken bank loans for various needs based on our jobs here. With this sudden decision of not to renew our visas, we have no idea on how to repay loans or what will happen once our visas expire.”
Sahasrabudhe said the AICTE mail box was flooded with hundreds of queries and help emails. “Considering the seriousness of the situation, we had immediately responded to the Kuwait government. We learnt that even engineers graduated from IITs, NIITs were not considered for the renewal of their visas. They had sent an expert committee to visit India when the AICTE and the MHRD had given a presentation. We told them since the NBA is not mandatory, not many colleges have accreditation. Also, we provided data and list of several eminent colleges in the country, which impart quality education in the field of education.”
A few engineers have also stated that even though their colleges are NBA recognised, names of their colleges are not mentioned in the engineering college list. Hence, the KSE has refused them the work permit. No MEA official could be reached despite several attempts.