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Opening Statement by Secretary [CPV & OIA] at India-EU Seminar on Talent Mobility (June 14-15, 2019)

June 19, 2019

Mr. Raimund Magis, Chargé d'Affaires of the EU Delegation to India,
Ms. Dagmar Walter, Director incharge of International Labour Organization Country Office for India,
Distinguished Speakers and Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • It gives me great pleasure to address today’s seminar on migration and mobility related aspects of professionals along the India-EU corridor, with a special focus on three significant and growing business sectors i.e. IT industry, automotive industry and start-ups.
  • ​At the outset, I would like to compliment and thank the EU Delegation to India, the International Labour Organization team in Delhi, and my colleagues in the Ministry of External Affairs, including the India Center for Migration, which is a major partner in this event, for their collaborative efforts in organizing this seminar on an important theme. I also convey my warm felicitations to NASSCOM and Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, both of whom are among India’s premier trade and industry bodies, for their association with this seminar. I also extend my greetings to all the dignitaries, speakers and participants present here.
  • ​I am delighted that Ambassador I.V. Chopra, a distinguished and gracious senior colleague in the Indian Foreign Service, under whose guidance and supervision I started my career as a diplomat abroad in our Embassy in Cairo during 1985 to 1988, is present on this occasion. I would like to renew my sincere gratitude to you, Sir, for the excellent training that has truly been an asset in the voyage of my migration; and mobility as a diplomat during the last over 30 years.
  • ​I would now request my colleagues in MEA, who have accompanied me to this seminar, to please stand up and be recognized – Dr. Shashank Vikram, Director; Mr. Anant Takwale, Regional Passport Officer, Pune; Mr. T.L.S. Bhaskar, Chief Administrative Officer, India Center for Migration and Mr. Nishikant Singh, Under Secretary.
  • ​This seminar is being organized under the overarching framework of the strategic partnership between India and the European Union, of which the Joint Declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility [CAMM] between India and the European Union and its Member States, signed on March 29, 2016, is an important dimension. This joint declaration is a broad and flexible vision document on the issue of migration and mobility for both sides. One of the important mechanisms envisaged in CAMM is the India-EU High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility [HLDMM] which steers the implementation of the consensus in the CAMM. This has become an important feature of our bilateral relations with the European Union for constructive engagement on migration and mobility related issues. I am looking forward to co-chairing, along with H.E. Paraskevi Michou, Director-General, Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, the upcoming 5th High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility [HLDMM] between India and the European Union in New Delhi.
  • ​I would like to highlight the complementarities which exist between the requirements of skills and talents in the European Union Member States and the vast reservoir of young, educated and skilled persons in India, who can contribute positively to our multi-dimensional cooperation with EU countries.
  • ​Against this backdrop, I am sanguine that all the participants would engage constructively in this seminar, and share their experiences regarding the opportunities available as well as challenges in the migration and mobility of skilled professionals along the India-EU corridor, with a special emphasis on three focus sectors of this seminar i.e. IT industry, automotive industry and start-ups.
  • ​As India is moving towards becoming a 5 trillion USD economy before 2025, with envisaged contribution of USD 3 trillion from services sector, a well-managed mobility of professionals along the India-EU corridor would be beneficial for all.
  • ​As you are aware, the ongoing Digital India Programme, a flagship programme of the Government of India has led to the creation of a strong foundation of digital infrastructure and expanded digital access, with new digital applications permeating sector after sector. So, India is now poised for the next phase of growth based largely on the creation of tremendous economic value and empowerment of its citizens. India’s digital story is one of an ICT led development story marked with use of technology that is affordable, inclusive and transformative. The Digital India Programme is transforming India into a knowledge-based economy and a digitally empowered society.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • ​I would like to draw your attention to the fact that India is the 5th largest car manufacturer, 7th largest commercial vehicle manufacturer and largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world. Our auto industry has embraced global automotive technologies in vehicle as well as auto component industry and consequently, uses innovative manufacturing processes with high emphasis on human resources.
  • ​In the present times, the need for innovative technology is assuming great importance due to rapidly changing product technologies in the automotive industry, depleting fossil fuel resources, high import cost of fuel, issues of environmental degradation and climate change. Switching over from conventional Internal Combustion engine based vehicles to new technologies like electric, hybrid, fuel cells is essential. In this regard, Government of India has recently approved ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Phase II’ [FAME India Phase II] for electric mobility in the country. In this background, a well-managed mobility of professionals along this automotive sector in the India-EU corridor would prove beneficial for all.
  • ​Start-up India, a flagship initiative of the Government of India, aims to build a strong ecosystem that is conducive for the growth of start-up businesses, to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. The Government through this initiative aims to empower start-ups to grow through innovation and design. The 19-Point Start-up India Action Plan envisages several incubation centres, easier patent filing, tax exemptions, ease of setting-up of business, a USD 1.4 billion corpus fund and a faster exit mechanism. Some of the achievements of the Start-up India action plan are (i) simplification and handholding for compliance regime based on self-certification, rolling out of mobile app and portal, setting up of Start-up India hub, legal support and fast-tracking patent examination at lower costs, relaxed norms of public procurement for start-ups and faster exit for start-ups, (ii) providing funding support through fund of funds with a corpus of USD 1.4 billion, tax exemption on capital gains, tax exemption to start-ups for 3 years, removal of angel tax, (iii) promoting industry-academia partnership and incubation through launch of Atal Innovation Mission, harnessing private sector expertise for incubator setup, building 11 Technology Business Incubators, setting up of 7 new research parks modelled on the research park setup at IIT Madras, promoting start-ups in the biotechnology sectors and (iv) launching of innovation focused programmes for students. This sector offers a lot of energy and opportunity for professionals from both sides.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • I would now like to draw your attention towards the challenges and issues faced by Indian skilled professionals especially in terms of different rules and procedural requirements regarding – visa, work permit, taxation, social welfare, family reunification, minimum salary, etc. in different EU Member States, despite EU being a single market. These processes are often protracted and complicated and do not necessarily incentivize deployment of foreign nationals. Thus, there is a need for uniform and coordinated rules for EU-wide employment sectors. Schengen rules are applicable when people intend to travel from one country to another within EU; however, for employment and residence purposes, the rules of respective Member States take precedence. Even though the Member States are encouraged to adhere to EU commitments in mobility and migration matters, there have been instances that Member States have opted out of enforcing commitments.
  • ​I would also like to mention the EU Blue Card Directive, which sets in conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of highly qualified employment. The implementation of this directive has varied widely across the Member States mainly due to policy choices by Member States who apply and promote the EU Blue Card in considerably different ways and, in some cases, favour their parallel national schemes. For instance, in its first two years, only 16,000 Blue Cards were issued and out of these, 13,000 were issued by a single member state i.e. Germany. As per the progress report on the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration, the revision of the Blue Card Directive is currently in a deadlock. For these reasons, in 2016, the European Commission had put forward a proposal for a new EU Blue Card Directive [currently under negotiation] based on a more harmonised, simplified and streamlined approach to attracting highly skilled personnel through a more clearly articulated, efficient and faster EU-wide scheme.
  • There have also been cultural issues, legal issues and market differences which act or have the potential of acting as constraints for the mobility of entrepreneurs, businesses and professionals from both sides. I believe that this seminar would serve as a useful platform to discuss and highlight both the opportunities as well as challenges, and lead to useful suggestions for various stakeholders.
  • ​I am sure that our deliberations today and tomorrow would further strengthen and expand the scope of well-managed migration of professionals, businesses and entrepreneurs along the India-EU corridor, which would be mutually beneficial.
​Thank you.

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