‘India working to address concerns of workers abroad’
The Indian government is working in close coordination with foreign governments to address concerns related to its workers
The Indian government is working in close coordination with foreign governments to address concerns related to employment and welfare of Indian workers, Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen (Dr) V K Singh (retd) said at the Indian Parliament recently.
He was speaking on the issue of fake employment agencies and cheating of Indian citizens lured to Gulf countries with promises of high-paying jobs but end up in menial ones.
Gen Singh said, “Labour and Manpower Cooperation agreements/MoUs are already in place with Jordan, Malaysia and the six Gulf countries. These agreements/MoUs provide the institutional framework for comprehensive discussions and review of these matters from time to time in the periodic meetings of Joint Working Groups.”
On being asked whether the government is aware that a number of fake agencies are functioning in the country which send workers to foreign countries for employment where they get stuck, the minister said ‘yes’.
“The government has been receiving from time to time complaints/grievances from emigrants and their family members or relatives of being cheated by illegal agents. Such complaints are forwarded to concerned state governments and police authorities urging them to apprehend illegal agents and prosecute them on the basis of complaints. Wherever required such complaints are also referred to missions/posts abroad for providing relief/rescue.”
Gen Singh pointed out that the Indian government also issued a Standard Operating Procedure on May 26, 2016, to be followed by states on receipt of complaints. “Government does not maintain data relating to Indian workers stranded overseas. However, as and when requests from Indian emigrants in distress, are received, the same are forwarded to the concerned Missions/Posts for providing relief and repatriation on an on-going basis.”
Gen Singh said, “At least 16,980 Indian nationals stranded in strife torn countries – Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen sought government’s support for various reasons and 16,570 were brought back to India, during the last three years.”
The details of support mechanisms provided by the government for Indian citizens lured to the Gulf countries with promises of high-paying jobs who end up with menial jobs were given during the Indian parliament session.
“The institutional framework for support and welfare of overseas Indians has been consider- ably strengthened over the last few years. The Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), the MADAD Portal, e-Migrate system, shelter homes, etc are some of the important mechanisms to expeditiously assist Indian nationals abroad. Shelter homes for distressed Indian nationals have been set up in Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE,” Gen Singh said.
He further said that the missions in Gulf countries also conduct Open Houses on regular basis where workers can convey their grievances. “There is a mandatory insurance and medical cover under Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojna for all Indian workers holding Emigration Check Required (ECR) Passport having Emigration Clearance for going to 18 notified ECR countries for overseas employment. The Yojana has been strengthened for the benefit of such workers.
“Complaints of mistreatment are received, from time to time, from Indian emigrant workers in 18 notified ECR countries regarding the violation of contractual terms, adverse working conditions, wage related issues, em- ployer-related problems, medical and insurance related problems and compensation/death claims,” he said.
Immediately on receipt of such complaints, the same are forwarded to the concerned Indian Mission/Post abroad for taking them up with the host government authorities on priority for urgent redressal/resolution within the ambit of MoUs signed with the Gulf countries. Wherever necessary the ministry/mission takes up the matter with the respective government, he added.