Although attraction of Tharu community has increased towards foreign employment lately from their traditional agriculture and animal husbandry, no change has come in their lifestyle.
The new trend of the Tharu youths who have little land, going to gulf countries and Malaysia for foreign jobs has intensified for the past three years, as their agro occupation could not sustain their livelihood, state-owned news agency RSS reports.
The impoverished people of Tharu community used to manage food grains and clothes by working on lease and by giving labor as the traditional occupations could not sustain even for six months in a year. In the changed context, they have been increasingly going for foreign employment by taking loans by putting their land on collateral in the hope that their economic condition would be strengthened.
As what they earn in foreign countries is only sufficient for household expense and for paying loans, no remarkable change has come in their economic condition. They have been lured by the agents of foreign employment companies.
Most Tharu youths go to Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar as laborers, said a Tharu leader Paharu Dahit.
He said some 1,000 youths of the community have gone for foreign employment in the past three year period from Kanchanpur. Even if the government has fixed Rs. 80,000 for gulf countries and Malaysia, the brokers charge Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 130,000 assuring them of attractive salaries, said a teacher, Bikram Chaudhary.
Tharu youths are compelled to pay the hefty charge for lack of information for precaution while going to foreign employment.
As most of the youths do not know where they are going, they are sent in a different job and in hard labour despite assuring easy work, and in risky areas, said Chaudhary.
Expressing worries on the lack of skilled manpower, Tharu leader Laxman Chaudhary said there has been deterioration of productivity after youths started to go for foreign jobs.
Vice chairman of the Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Journalists' Association Kanchanpur Dan Singh Dagaura Tharu says the attraction of Tharu youths to foreign employment is because of lack of modernization of agriculture and difficulty in sustaining family.
The Tharu youths go abroad as they could not make a living from agriculture and they should be stopped from going abroad by managing necessary fertilizers, seeds and by fixing of price of agro productions and marketing arrangement.
Balkisan Chaudhary of Pipaladi says he sent his two sons abroad as he saw other youths of the village earning money in foreign jobs. He adds, "We have given farms on rent as no one is there to work in the paddy field after sons are abroad in the context that we had been cultivating land in one and half bighas of land when there were sons at home. We can sustain
for nine months from the earning of the leased land, now we buy grains from the money sent by sons from abroad for the rest of three months."
Most Tharu youths earn between Rs.15, 000 to Rs. 25,000 monthly in foreign employment. Although no remarkable change has come in the status of the families from the earning abroad, they can solve their problems of two square meals a day and can send their children to private boarding schools.
Maniram Chaudhary who sent three sons to foreign employment by taking loans from the bank, said there is no confidence to make a living for the year round by farming for the whole of family, and they sent them abroad with the hope that the family status will be uplifted if something is earned and brought home rather than remaining unemployed.
"The sons have sent Rs. 150,000 in only nine months and we have been giving land on rent from that money and we have been making do from the food grains and clothes bought from the amount for the family," he said.
Tharu social worker Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary says no remarkable change has come in the status of the families whose members have gone for foreign employment, adding the amount they have sent has been mostly spent on land and house and buying motorcycles rather than investing in productive sector.
Man Bahadur Chaudhary, who returned from Malaysia three years ago, says it is not good to go abroad for money. "We can earn more if vegetable farming is undertaken in our own farm even from small capital rather than going for foreign employment and can enjoy family life in sorrow and joys.
"There will be compulsion to be ready for work anytime when the boss says, and some have committed suicide as they could not work accordingly, which we have read in newspapers," he adds.
They are at more risk as the agents would send most of the youths by using Indian airports, said Nepal Kamasu Society Chairman, Bhagiram Chaudhary. Lal Bahadur Chaudhary of Pipaladi-6 who reached Qatar by using Indian airport through agents, said he returned home after remaining in jail for six months due to fake visa.
A local Tharu leader Suresh Chaudhary says work permit should be received from the Department of Foreign Employment, training should be taken and receipt should be taken of the amount submitted, as most Tharu youths had reached foreign employment by using Indian airports as they had no awareness that one should file petition at the Department of Foreign Employment if they are cheated.
Although there are many Tharu youths who go for the foreign jobs for employment, there is no record of Tharu ladies going for it so far. The District Administration Office Kanchanpur says only 1,312 have made their passports in the Fiscal Year 2068/69 BS in the district.
Of them, more than five percent were by Tharu youths, says passport section employee Padam Raj Bhatta. Now some 110 persons have applied for passport and more than 90 per cent were youths going for gulf countries. nepalnews.com