India responded to protect migrant workers, stranded in destination countries across the world

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government engaged and established institutional arrangements for labour migration and mobility of professionals with new and emerging destinations, Secretary (CPV & OIA), Ministry of External Affairs Sanjay Bhattacharyya said on Tuesday.

“The Covid experience made it clear that greater coordination and cooperation between state authorities was necessary for mutually beneficial options in the migration ecosystem,” Bhattacharyya said

He was speaking at the 112th Session of IOM Council on ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Borders, Migration and Mobility: Learning Lessons and Preparing for the Future’.

Stating that more stable and transparent mechanisms were needed for our traditional destinations in the Gulf, he said that the government engaged in discussions for new generation labour agreements and commenced work on integration of our eMigrate platform with those of our GCC partners.

This would promote transparency, empower future migrants, stabilize migration flows and promote safe and legal migration, Bhattacharyya continued.

Mentioning that further, new migration corridors were emerging, he said, in pursuit of better migration management, the government engaged and established institutional arrangements for labour migration and mobility of professionals with new and emerging destinations.

The India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility provided better understanding leading to mutually beneficial mobility partnerships with several EU countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, and negotiations with others, the Secretary (CPV & OIA) informed.

The recent Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement with the United Kingdom encouraged the orderly mobility of skills and talents that provide benefits to both sides, he added.

The Memorandum of Cooperation on Specified Skilled Workers with Japan provided a mechanism for the sending and receiving of Indian skilled workers to Japan in 14 specified sectors in a regulated and safe manner, Bhattacharyya said.

Recognizing the potential health and economic impact of Covid-19, he stated that India responded to protect migrant workers, stranded in destination countries across the world.

According to the MEA Secretary, the government organised the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ from May 7 last year to facilitate their safe repatriation.

This was the largest and the most complex exercise undertaken by the government, with our Embassies working in tandem with host governments and community organizations to support every Indian in distress, he mentioned.

More than 2.5 million Indians in distress abroad were repatriated home and over 275,000 Indians overseas were provided assistance, Bhattacharyya further said.

Arguing that migrant returnees often require support for livelihood opportunities to sustain themselves, he said, an all of government effort was undertaken.

“We also launched the SWADES portal (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support). This skill mapping exercise involved our National Skill Development Corporation and the information collated was shared with State Governments, employment bureaus and Indian & foreign companies for a seamless employment channel with identification of skill sets,” Bhattacharyya further stated.

“Within the country, we simplified the process of emigration through effective e-governance reaching out to the masses, simplification and digitalization of passport services, upgrading of eMigrate platform - a one stop source of information on overseas employment, strengthened grievance redressal and developed welfare instruments for vulnerable migrants,” he claimed.

The MEA Secretary added, further, recognizing that future of work would be determined by automation and digital technology, we developed modules to prepare our workforce for competency demands of the future, both for skills and destinations.

Maintaining that India was in the forefront of Covid cooperation measures from the outset, he said India now, with a capacity of 5 billion vaccine doses, depending on demand, are ready to be effective suppliers in the coming days.

“With relaxation in travel restrictions, mutual recognition of vaccination certification is needed as a global endeavor. Our CoWin vaccination certification, based on QR code and secure database, has been recognized by 99 countries,” he said.

According to the MEA Secretary (CPV & OIA), migration can only be managed collectively, multilateral understanding is necessary and bilateral partnerships are essential.

“The Global Compact on Migration and regional groupings such as the Abu Dhabi Dialogue and Colombo Process play an important role, not only to disseminate awareness but also in identifying and sharing of best practices,” he stated further.