Surely there is a huge scope for Indian truck drivers abroad if the number of calls I am getting is any indication.
Even the Rivigo promoter Deepak Garg has jumped into the bandwagon. Ashok Leyland’s Driver Training Institute at Kaithal, Haryana, has more applicants from Punjab and Haryana with their eyes on the Canadian and American markets.
A London-based friend called requesting my indulgence in sourcing drivers for his client in Lithuania. “For moving what: arms?” I demanded. To move grains from war-torn Ukraine to other parts of Europe, he clarified. Worry not, and no harm will befall because grain exports from Ukraine are trouble-free. I hope he is right. Still.
My European geography is poor, and hence had to google to locate the tiny European nation.
Yet another caller from Dubai with another foot in California, the United States, arranged a WhatsApp call to explore my cooperating with him to export Indian truck drivers to the US. He preferred sardars, and his fee was three million rupees per candidate.
While Garg and the rest of the callers were offering rock-bottom fees for placement, the demand for three million rupees put me off. I said ‘no.’
“You don’t understand. Go to Punjab and damroo bajao. Sardars are dying to come to Canada. We handle everything with valid visas, longer contracts, and the guarantee of permanent residences,” beseeched the caller at the other end. No illegal entry into the land of opportunities through the porous Mexican border or scary boat rides on choppy seas.
A few months ago, ASDC CEO Arindam Lahiri reeled out statistics of several nations knocking on his door for drivers. How many drivers has he dispatched so far? I did not ask him.
There is a huge demand-supply gap for truck drivers overseas, and drivers, like healthcare workers, are in demand. Gagan Chaturvedi of Signo has opened a branch in the United States to cater to this need.
He has gone beyond and tied with a Driver Training Institute in Ajmer, Rajasthan, where his recruits of wannabe truck drivers for the overseas market can be trained as per the global driving rules and regulations, plus a bit of English awareness before packed off. A pucca visa for a truck driver job at an affordable price tag. Good business, Gagan!
A casual chat with Pankaj Kumar, an acquaintance and partner in the driver relationship management vertical floated under the banner of Centre For Driver Relationship Management (CDRM), led to him sounding his contacts which led to more than a dozen wannabes with past outside India truck driving experience bombarding him with calls and flooding his inbox with passport, past appointment letter and what not. Ready to go types. Glittering dollar salary on the horizon!
No doubt, the money is good. Better trucking standards. Better regulatory ambiance. Most importantly, no RTO challenge. Air-conditioned driver cabins. Superior living standards. Above all, NRI status. Tax-free income. Plus, the foreign tag. What more to ask for? Unfortunately, I have no heavy commercial vehicle driving license. Otherwise…
Will this lead to a driver talent drain from India? asked a friendly fleet owner from Pune. “Rahul Gandhi’s trucking video virally talks of mouth watering 8 lakh rupees salary. Very tempting. Forget about professional drivers wanting to scoot. Even engineering and English-speaking graduates and postgraduates would opt for truck driving overseas. Is it good for India?” A pertinent question.
Can it be stopped? Wrong question. Forget about overseas job opportunities for truck drivers. Over the decades, a lot of engineering and medical talent has migrated to foreign shores. India could not and did not stop that brain drain. Rather it did not even try, honestly. This led to an Indian diaspora in every nook and corner of the world. Please show me a country where there are no Indian professionals not working in one field or another. Free global labor mobility.
If Indian truck drivers — with or without English pechaan — managed to fill the void in foreign countries, what’s wrong? The educated lot and wannabe truck drivers won’t choose to work in India. But, they vote with their feet to shift gear and steer giant trucks on autobahns. Money, dear, Money.
Another friend of the driver laments: What a nonsensical idea to export drivers when we are faced with a shortage at home?
Relax, buddy! Shiploads of cyber coolies were dispatched to far-off places since the Y2K global drama. Did that lead to a shortage of infotech professionals in India? I don’t think so. If so, why heat your cranium over driver export? Let them go and get exposed to best driving practices. As they return, those learnings may stand them in good stead.
My vote is for the export of drivers. What about you, folks?