New Delhi, June 15: India has been engaged with foreign governments to ensure the welfare of prospective migrants, and is currently focussed on mitigating the negative economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indian talent abroad, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.
Addressing the third edition of the Annual Conference of Protectors of Emigrants (POEs) via video-conferencing, he said the POEs must also rise to the challenge of reviving the post-COVID-19 economy and engage with the post-coronavirus world.
“Our government has accorded the highest priority to promoting the interests of Indian emigrants for the last six years,” Jaishankar said.
The government’s focus has been to provide better opportunities and welfare measures to prospective migrants, he added.
The government, therefore, has been engaged with its foreign counterparts to provide ease of travel and opportunities through migration and mobility agreements, protection of social security contributions and integration of migration platforms to provide skill-matching and better remuneration, Jaishankar said.
Among those to whom the government has accorded particular priority in terms of welfare and protection are the Indians working in the Gulf region and South East Asia, he said.
India has been taking all possible efforts to reduce their vulnerabilities, curb exploitation and harassment by foreign employers as well as by unscrupulous recruitment agents, Jaishankar said.
“We are currently focussed on ensuring that the negative economic consequences of the pandemic on our talent and skills abroad is mitigated. That is influenced not only by the quality of our various bilateral relationships but the overall helpful approach that we have displayed with regard to the health and economic requirements of our partners,” he said.
“It is imperative that we recover our market share as quickly as possible. The coming months will see dedicated efforts in that direction. The contribution that the protectors of emigrants (POEs) can make to facilitate this national objective is significant,” Jaishankar said.
He also noted that many of the Indian workers, who after long years of service abroad returned with advanced skills and abilities, would contribute to the country’s development.
“In fact, we are engaged in such data capture and mapping as an accompanying element of the Vande Bharat mission that is currently underway. MEA has facilitated data flows to National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to develop ‘Swades’, a database for skilled workers. Together with E-migrate, these can become basic tools for skill job matching for migrant workers,” Jaishankar said.
Noting that India is today a critical source of trusted talent and competitive skills for the global economy, he said that more than with any other major economy, human resources are at the core of India’s engagement with the world.
The POEs are responsible for granting emigration clearance to the intending emigrants as per the procedure prescribed under the Emigration Act, 1983, according to the MEA.
Speaking at the conference, Jaishankar said India has established three new offices of POEs, which number 13 at present.
“This has extended our reach to more parts of the country, especially those areas which provide migrant flows to foreign lands. We have also promoted synergy and coordination between POE and Passport Offices,” he said.
Jaishankar said that the integration of the e-Migrate platform with those of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries and Malaysia will facilitate these efforts greatly.
At the event, he also highlighted initiatives such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana, that provides insurance cover to workers travelling overseas.
“Our efforts are aimed at ensuring a safe, orderly, legal and humane migration process,” Jaishankar said.
“Monitoring the skill sets of our people abroad is an intrinsic aspect of the regulation and promotion of migration. But, this also has a greater relevance today as we are looking at the prospect of returning migrants,” he said.
The Ministry is now seeking to expand this further through skill mapping, collaboration with skill councils overseas and recognition of prior learning (RPL) such that Indian workers are also able to move up the value chain and earn better incomes, abroad or at home, he said.
“Let me also emphasize that it is essential to improve our database of migrants. We need to find ways and means to capture data in a more robust and comprehensive manner. At the same time, striking the right balance between promoting an easy emigration while ensuring safety and welfare is imperative,” he asserted.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the government is finalising the new Emigration Management Bill in which key issues related to emigrants will be adequately addressed to ensure the balance between employment opportunities for Indian nationals abroad not becoming restrictive and at the same time not provide opportunity through loopholes for exploitation.
“Situation created due to COVID-19 has further disrupted the flow of emigration for work to traditional destinations, like, Gulf. A large number on the other hand have returned and continue to do so. As per the past experience, after the situation returns to normal, many may try to look for work abroad again,” Muraleedharan said. (PTI)