Venkat Raman –
The Indian government has been talking tough about punishing illegal immigration and education agents in India and according to information made available to us, new regulations will soon be in place for a regulated regime.
Exploitation of migrant workers and international students from India has been a major irritant for people in New Zealand and other countries which are popular work and education destinations.
There have been regulatory exercises used by the previous Congress Party-led coalition government but these lacked biting teeth. Current Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought a sigh a relief with some bold announcements that he made while addressing the delegates to the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in Bengaluru on January 8 and 9, 2017.
He said that his government would shortly launch a skill development programme called, ‘Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana’ (Promoting the Prosperity of Indian Migrant Workers), aimed at improving the wellbeing of young people.
“Grievances, complaints and petitions of the Indian migrant workers continue to be addressed online through e-Migrate and ‘Madad’ (meaning help) platforms. We are also taking strict action against illegal recruitment agents in India. Prosecution sanctions by CBI or State Police against illegal agents; and increase in the amount of Bank Guarantee deposited by the recruiting agents from Rs 20 lakhs (NZ$ 42,145 to Rs 50 lakhs (NZ$ 105,360) are some of the steps in this direction,” he said.
Mr Modi said that the Scheme would also aim to ensure that migrating Indian workers enjoy better economic opportunities, but did not elaborate.
It is understood that since his government took charge on May 26, 2014, about 600,000 emigrants have been granted Emigration Clearance online for overseas employment through registered recruitment agents.
His government has also made online registration of foreign employers on e-Migrate portal mandatory.
The Union government operates the Indian Community Welfare Fund, which has thus far assisted more than 80,000 Indian nationals overseas.
The assistance is rendered through diplomatic missions and incudes transportation of bodies of Indians who die in tragic circumstances and those facing unforeseen contingencies.
“Our aim is that for every Indian abroad, home should never be far away. For workers who seek economic opportunities abroad, our effort is to provide maximum facilitation and ensure least inconvenience. For this, we have streamlined our systems and taken several measures to safeguard emigration of Indian workers,” Mr Modi said.
Among the other initiatives that he announced included extension of time limit for conversion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, new procedures including documentation for successors of Indians who were sent from India as indentured labourers (Girmityas) before India’s independence on August 15, 1947 and investment and education opportunities for people with links in India.
“We have a special bond with the Indian Diaspora which is living in the Girmitya countries – who are deeply and emotionally attached with their place of origin,” Mr Modi said.
Additional reading: ‘Take your grievances to Sushma online’ under Homelink and ‘Modi extols the Indian Diaspora,’ our Editorial under Viewlink.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru on January 8 (Picture by Press Information Bureau, Delhi).