New Delhi: In yet another instance of the government giving priority to engaging with the Indian diaspora, India will host a conference of members of parliaments in other countries who are of Indian origin next year, a senior official said here on Friday.
“We will have a PIO (person of Indian origin) Parliamentary Conference on January 9, 2018 in New Delhi,” said Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, Secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs), a newly created post in the Ministry of External Affairs.
“There are around 285 parliamentarians of Indian origin and over 125 of them are expected to come,” Mulay said during a media interaction organised by the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents (IAFAC).
Of these 285 parliamentarians, 70 are ministers, speakers and even prime ministers in their respective countries.
In the US alone, there are four members of the House of Representatives and one senator who are of Indian origin.
Giving an update on the work of his division in the ministry, Mulay said that the government has laid a strong foundation by making diplomacy people-centric.
Stating that the government’s interaction with the Indian diaspora has been “transformational”, he said that the total number of such diaspora around the world now stands at 31.2 million.
He said that there are four segments of the Indian diaspora: the diaspora in the Gulf numbering around 8.5 million; older diaspora who went as indentured labour numbering around 1.7 million; people who hold Indian citizenship but are living abroad; and the floating overseas Indians that include students and people going for short and research purposes.
Of the 8.5 million expatriate Indians in the Gulf, around 70 per cent are blue collar workers mostly employed in the infrastructure sector.
Mulay also spoke about the Madad portal set up by his ministry that is used to address the grievances of Indians living abroad.
“We received around 26,000 grievances in the last one year and over 20,000 of these have been resolved,” he said, adding that the grievances were also received via social media and through call centres.
Regarding the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) set up in Indian missions to help Indians in distress abroad, the Secretary said that since the fund was set up in 2009, 110,000 people have benefited.
He also said that Indian workers going abroad through registered recruiting agents are mandatorily insured for Rs. 10 lakh under the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana.
To ensure that skilled Indian workers can get employment abroad, Mulay said the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana has been introduced.
“We started a pre-departure orientation programme and our effort is to offer training free of cost,” he said.
He also stated that over 100,000 foreign employers are registered with his ministry.
“We have labour and manpower agreements with the GCC countries, Malaysia and Jordan,” he said.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries comprise Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking about the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card that offers a lifelong visa to people of Indian origin abroad, Mulay said that many people are applying for it.
He added that Indian missions have now been allowed to print OCI cards in their respective countries.