Session Report

Plenary VI: Managing the emigration cycle: Streamlining and supporting Indian workers emigration to ECR countries

Chair:

  • Gen. (Dr) V K Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India

Co-Chair:

  • Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India

Session Coordinator:

  • Mr Mridul Kumar, Joint Secretary (Gulf), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India      

Panelists:      

  • Mr Bhagwan Asarpota, President, PIO/NRI Indian Community Relief Fund, Bahrain
  • Mr Nilim Baruah, Senior Migration Specialist, International Labor Organization, Bangkok
  • Mrs Bindu S Chettur, Councillor, IWRC Dubai & Senior Lawyer, UAE
  • Mr P M Jabir, Community Welfare Secretary, Indian Social Club, Oman
  • Mr Khanderao Kand, Founder & Director, Global Indian Technology Professional Association, USA
  • Mr Suraj Kollabathula, Technical Consultant for Ministry of Information, Government of Kuwait
  • Dr Mohan Thomas Pakalomattom, Indian Medical Association, Qatar
  • Mr Dhanpal Panchal, Founder, Rajasthani Darpan Association, Kuwait
  • Dr Shyam Parande, Secretary General, ARSP India
  • Mr Arvind Patil, President, Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF), Qatar
  • Dr Pradeep Kumar Sarmah, Ashoka Lemelson Fellow & ED, Central for Rural Development & Member, Indian Centre for Migration (ICM)
  • Dr Meera Sethi, Special Envoy of DG, International Organization for Migration (IOM), India
  • Ms Seeta Sharma, National Project Coordinator, South Asia Labour Migration Governance Project, India
  • Dr B R Shetty, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, NMC Healthcare, Abu Dhabi

The Context

The session focussed attention on the steps taken by Government towards strengthening the welfare and protection of Indian nationals abroad. The panel discussed the present regulatory and support framework. Since most of the welfare programmes are implemented by Indian Missions/Posts, the session focused on their role in helping the migrant workers. Other issues like skill upgradation, standard employment contracts, awareness campaigns, pre-departure orientation, concerns of vulnerable categories of workers, role of State Governments, collaboration with destination countries, were also deliberated upon.

Recommendations & Action Taken

A PBD 2016 Conference on “Managing the Migration Cycle: Streamlining and Supporting Indian Worker’s Emigration to ECR Countries” was organised on June 28, 2016 in New Delhi. The conference as attended by domain experts from the Indian Diaspora, officials from state governments, representatives of multilateral institutions working on migration, policy makers, and other stakeholders. Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, chaired the conference.

Mr Mridul Kumar, Joint Secretary (Gulf), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, presented the recommendations made at the PBD 2016 Conference on issues linked with managing the emigration cycle, as also the actions taken thereon.

The key recommendations were:

  • Engage ECR countries for signing comprehensive labour agreements along with standard draft employment contracts.
  • As regards integration of India’s e-migrate system with the electronic contract registration and validation system of the host countries, engage ECR countries for integration of the two systems to block illegal migration.
  • onclude MOUs with GCC countries to intensify the efforts to prevent human trafficking. 
  • Initiate strong deterrent action against unscrupulous recruiting agents/agencies.
  • Workers may be imparted with required skills (‘Surakshit Jaayein, Prishikshit Jaayein’ campaign).
  • Simplify the procedures of the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana and provide for health insurance.
  • ign MoUs with ECR countries on engagement of domestic sector workers.
  • Curb illegal migration of ECR category workers using other routes (tourist visa); enforce strict screening of Indian workers proceeding to ECR countries, especially GCC countries, on tourist visas.
  • Many migrant workers get into trouble by either agreeing innocently to carry narcotic substances given by recruitment agents, etc., or by carrying large quantities of OTC medicines or other medicines without prescription. Hence, enhance awareness among the prospective migrant workers and their families on this issue
  • All concerned State Governments to have NRI Department on the lines of Kerala’s NORKA.

Actions taken by Government on the recommendations were:

  • 8 bilateral MoUs signed with 6 GCC countries, Jordon and Malaysia.
  • Revised agreement signed with Saudi Arabia in 2016 for general category workers in 2016. An agreement on DSWs was signed in 2014. Government is negotiating with other ECR countries on this.
  • Proposals have been made to integrate India’s e-migrate system with the e-platforms of labour recruiting GCC countries.
  • Office for PGE shall take strict action against unscrupulous RAs on receipt of complaint.
  • MSDE to launch Pravasi Kaushal Viska Yojana (PKVY) -- to enhance technical as well as soft skills of migrant workers.
  • PBBY now offers an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh to Indian emigrant workers. Insurance companies agreed to settle claim on the basis of certification issued by the Mission.
  • Decision taken to send Indian nurses through government agencies only.
  • Audio video campaign, pre-departure module and handbooks have been put in place for awareness building among migrating workers.

Plenary Session & Q&A

Mr Kumar mentioned that out of the 30 million NRIs and PIOs living in different parts of the world, 8.5 million live and work in the Gulf region. Today, an increasing number of emigrants to the Gulf countries are from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Citing the challenges that emigrants face, he said that at the pre-departure stage the most pressing issue is that of unscrupulous recruitment agents colluding with people in the destination countries to mislead the emigrants. Contract substitution and the ‘kafala’ system were cited as key problems when it comes to country of destination, and those are being addressed now. When it comes to the return and re-settlement of Indian emigrants, Government is introducing more support systems and skilling opportunities for easier re-settlement of the emigrants.

Mr Kumar also cited the MADAD portal, Indian Workers Resource Centres, Overseas Workers Resource Centre, ICWF, Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana, among various initiatives taken by Government to protect the interests of emigrant workers. He said that an Indian Workers Resource Centre is also being set up in Kuala Lumpur, and that the insurance scheme is being reinforced to make it more useful to the target beneficiaries.

On the e-emigrant system that Government has introduced, Mr Kumar said that it is imperative to get the Indian e-emigrant system and e-emigrant systems of other countries aligned. The systems need to talk to each other, he said, adding that Government is directing sharp focus on addressing the human trafficking issue and that a positive development on that front will be known in the next 3-4 months. He mentioned that the agreements pertaining to domestic sector workers need to be refreshed and for that due efforts are being made by Government. The protection of domestic sector workers will improve when they come within the ambit of the domestic labour laws of the host countries.

India is actively countering insidious attempts made by certain countries to confuse the issue of refugees with emigration. Emigration, unlike movement of refugees, has a positive impact on global economies and is integral to globalisation, said Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India. He added that globalisation of capital and migration of workers and professionals across geographies should not be treated differently in today’s globalised world. He pointed out that Government of India is pro-actively leveraging technologies to create enabling structures that support the welfare of Indian workers and professionals pursuing employment opportunities overseas.

Gen (Dr) V K Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, said that the concerns and suggestions put forth by the delegates with regard to worker emigration will be addressed by the Heads of Mission present at the convention and that the feedback from the meetings will serve as inputs for further action.

Participants

  1. Gen. (Dr) V K Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India (Chair)
  2. Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India (Co-Chair)
  3. Mr Mridul Kumar, Joint Secretary (Gulf), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India (Session Coordinator)
  4. Mr Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, Secretary (CPV&OIA), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
  5. Mr Manish Gupta, Joint Secretary (OIA1), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
  6. Mr M C Luther, Joint Secretary (OE&PG), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
  7. Mr Alok Kumar Sinha, Ambassador of India in Bahrain
  8. Mr Sunil Jain, Ambassador of India in Kuwait
  9. Mr T S Tirumurti, High Commissioner of India in Malaysia
  10. Mr Indra Mani Pandey, Ambassador of India in Oman
  11. Mr P Kumaran, Ambassador of India in Qatar
  12. Mr Ahmad Javed, Ambassador of India in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  13. Mr Navdeep Singh Suri, Ambassador of India in UAE
  14. Mr Bhagwan Asarpota, President, PIO/NRI Indian Community Relief Fund, Bahrain
  15. Mr Nilim Baruah, Senior Migration Specialist, International Labor Organization, Bangkok
  16. Mrs Bindu S Chettur, Councillor, IWRC Dubai & Senior Lawyer, UAE
  17. Mr P M Jabir, Community Welfare Secretary, Indian Social Club, Oman
  18. Mr Khanderao Kand, Founder & Director, Global Indian Technology Professional Association, USA
  19. Mr Suraj Kollabathula, Technical Consultant for Ministry of Information, Government of Kuwait
  20. Dr Mohan Thomas Pakalomattom, Indian Medical Association, Qatar
  21. Mr Dhanpal Panchal, Founder, Rajasthani Darpan Association, Kuwait
  22. Dr Shyam Parande, Secretary General, ARSP India
  23. Mr Arvind Patil, President, Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF), Qatar
  24. Dr Pradeep Kumar Sarmah, Ashoka Lemelson Fellow & ED, Central for Rural Development & Member, Indian Centre for Migration (ICM)
  25. Dr Meera Sethi, Special Envoy of DG, International Organization for Migration (IOM), India
  26. Ms Seeta Sharma, National Project Coordinator, South Asia Labour Migration Governance Project, India
  27. Dr B R Shetty, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, NMC Healthcare, Abu Dhabi

Key Recommendations of the Session

In the interactive session with PBD delegates the following suggestions and recommendations were made:

  • Globalisation of capital and migration of workers and professionals across geographies should not be treated differently in today’s globalised world.
  • Streamline the process of emigration and tighten regulation of recruiting agents in coordination with State authorities concerned to prevent unscrupulous elements from operating.
  • Agreements pertaining to domestic sector workers need to be refreshed. The protection of domestic sector workers will improve when they come within the ambit of the domestic labour laws of the host countries.
  • Help Indians working overseas as labourers to enhance their education and skills and help them connect directly with the employers.
  • It is imperative to get the Indian e-emigrant system and e-emigrant systems of other countries aligned. The systems need to talk to each other.
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