In his keynote address of the 3rd Annual Conference of Protectors of Emigrants on Monday, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said India has a major share in providing both highly and semi-skilled workforce to many countries, both developed and developing.

He also said that India is a major source of trusted and competitive skills for the global economy.

“India is today a critical source of trusted talent and competitive skills for the global economy. Human resources are at the core of our engagement with the world,” S Jaishankar said.

Stating that the government is focused in its objective to protect the lives of Indians across the world, the External Affairs Minister said every year lakhs of semi-skilled and low-skilled workers have been legally emigrating to the notified ECR countries for overseas employment through registered agents.

“When we are sending such a large number of our citizens for overseas employment, the issue of safeguarding interests of the vulnerable categories of workers as well as their safe and legal emigration, becomes important to us. Statistics bear out that out of the good amount of remittance sent from abroad to India, a large proportion is from our workers in the ECR countries,” he said.

He added that in the past six years several measures have been adopted to safeguard the interests of Indian workers going for overseas employment, especially to the ECR countries.

“But, still we continue to receive complaints in increasing numbers regarding illegal emigration, cheating. Modern technology, such as, social media are being used for unscrupulous activities,” the EAM rued, stating that it is time to reflect in today’s deliberations whether in our effort to ensure safe and legal emigration, the various policies and measures adopted have been helpful or has made emigration for employment more restrictive and discouraging.

He said the 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.

“Therefore, it is high time we finalized some policy issues that have been under discussions for some time at various levels, including Consultative Committee of Parliament, such as, Minimum Referral Wages or MRW, allowing private Recruitment Agents to send female domestic workers, how to ensure skills acquisition of emigrants as per demand of work available abroad,” Jaishankar added.

He also said that there is an urgent need to check the growth of illegal recruiting agents, operating in many towns, cities and states of India, and prosecuting them under various provisions of the IPC and Emigration Act, 1983 for carrying out illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

“Awareness programmes and activities need to be deepened. Modern technology is being increasingly used to lure people for illegal activities, on account of which even well-educated persons are increasingly falling prey to it,” he said,

He also informed the participants that India is finalizing the new emigration management bill where in such issues will be “adequately addressed to ensure the balance between employment opportunities for our nationals abroad not becoming restrictive and at the same time not provide opportunity through loopholes for exploitation.