‘Italy first’ fine, but Indians ‘are needed’

SABAUDA(ITALY): Indian migrants working near Rome say Italy’s far-right politicians may talk about curbing immigration, but the European nation cannot manage without their cheap labour. “Politicians in order to win votes keep saying things like ‘We Italians’, ‘Italians first’, ‘Our people’,” said Gurmukh Singh, 47, head of the Indian Community Association.

‘Italy first’ fine, but Indians ‘are needed’

A migrant worker picks radishes in the Pontine Marshes. Reuters

laxmi@tribune.com

Sabauda (Italy), May 24

Indian migrants working near Rome say Italy’s far-right politicians may talk about curbing immigration, but the European nation cannot manage without their cheap labour. “Politicians in order to win votes keep saying things like ‘We Italians’, ‘Italians first’, ‘Our people’,” said Gurmukh Singh, 47, head of the Indian Community Association.

“If our people go away, if everyone goes back to India, can the Italians work in these fields for 4 euros, 3.50 or 2.90 euros?” he asks. 

The far-right League, led by Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, is expected to emerge as Italy’s leading party in Sunday’s European parliamentary elections, campaigning under the “Italy first” slogan. Salvini has promised to deport more illegal migrants from Italy.  He has often blamed immigrants for crime.

Rights groups accuse Salvini of fanning racism and intolerance. They question threats to enact mass deportations, saying he has not done so during his first 12 months in office. 

As many as 30,000 Indians, mostly Sikhs from Punjab, live in the Pontine Marshes region, where agriculture expanded after the area was drained in the 1930s. Some of the workers do not have official documentation.

Many cycle long distances from cramped accommodations to pick fruit and vegetables for up to 13 hours a day, earning $3.30-$5.50 an hour, well below the  minimum wage. An activist says he hopes the anti-migrant sentiment will wane. — Reuters

Top Stories

70 pc adults fully vaccinated: Mandaviya at stamp launch to mark 1 year of Covid vaccination drive

70 pc adults fully vaccinated: Mandaviya at stamp launch to mark 1 year of Covid vaccination drive

The drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with health...

Covid-19: India’s R-value drops to 2.2 between January 7 and 13, shows IIT Madras analysis

Covid-19: India's R-value drops to 2.2 between January 7 and 13, shows IIT Madras analysis

The R value is the number of people that an infected person ...

Now, 75 per cent jobs in Haryana with maximum Rs 30K pay mandatory for locals

New law kicks in, 75 pc jobs in Haryana with maximum Rs 30K pay mandatory for locals

‘Historic day’ for the youth of Haryana, says Deputy CM Dush...

Former UP minister and OBC leader Dara Singh Chauhan joins Samajwadi Party

Former UP minister and OBC leader Dara Singh Chauhan joins Samajwadi Party

Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA from Vishvanathganj Assembly constitu...

Cities

View All