The Gulf region is a major destination for Indian expatriates

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday said India is actively pursuing the issue of workers who returned from overseas during the pandemic with host countries.

“The issue has been taken up in high level meetings. Our Embassies and Consulates are actively pursuing this matter with host Governments. The Government remains engaged to effectively address issues including emigration related through bilateral consultation mechanisms,” the MoS External Affairs said in his keynote address at the 4th Protectors of Emigrants Conference.

He said through SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) initiative a database of the returning Indian nationals based on their skill sets and experience is being developed and used in placement opportunities.

“The information collected via the skills card has been used to facilitate placement opportunities by integrating with Skill India’s ASEEM (Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping) portal,” he said, informing the gathering that SWADES is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs.

He said the Gulf region is a major destination for Indian expatriates. “We have continuously engaged with the leadership of the Gulf countries on COVID-19 related cooperation. The emphasis has been to alleviate problems faced by the Indian community in the Gulf due to the pandemic,” the MoS said.

Muraleedharan also highlighted the government’s efforts to diversify bilateral engagements on manpower and mobility.

Earlier this year, India and Japan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on Specified Skilled Workers which would provide skilled workers from India an opportunity to work in the select 14 areas of the Japanese industrial and service sector, he said.

Similarly India signed MoUs with the UK and Kuwait on Mobility and Migration Partnership.

He said recently, the Cabinet has approved skilled manpower mobility between India and Portugal.

“We are working towards adding more countries to the list and expanding the opportunities for our migrants to seek safe and legal work opportunities. POEs have an important role to play in informing our youth and workers about these new destinations and opportunities,” he said.

The Minister said the existence of e-Migrate, a unique online platform, which integrates PoE Offices, Passport offices, Indian Missions, Bureau of Immigration and others regulating overseas employment shows that “we were ahead of the time and well-prepared for a pandemic affected environment.”

He maintained that the important role of Government welfare schemes like Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana, Pre-Departure Orientation Training and Indian Community Welfare Fund play in equipping the emigrant with effective tools to deal with the challenges of working in a foreign land cannot be overemphasized.