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Address by Minister of State for External Affairs at the 3rd Annual Conference of Protectors of Emigrants (June 15, 2020)

June 15, 2020

Hon’ble External Affairs Minister of India, Shri S. Jaishankar Ji,
Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya Ji, Secretary (CPV & OIA) Shri Amrit Lugun Ji,
Protector General of Emigrants
Other colleagues who are attending this conference in the virtual mode

Good morning to all of you,


  • Hon’ble EAM and Secretary (CPV & OIA) have already touched upon the relevant issues and highlighted Ministry’s approach towards Indian Diaspora.
  • All participants in today’s event know that emigration from India has been going on for several centuries. India has a major share in providing both highly skilled and semi-skilled work-force to many countries, both developed and developing, according to statistics. 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, large proportion is from our workers in the ECR countries.
  • There has been a focused effort by the Government under Prime Minister Modi to ensure that the lives of Indians across the world are safeguarded in every way.
  • We have taken several measures in the past six years 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 etc. Modern technology, such as, social media are being used for unscrupulous activities. Therefore, 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. 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 etc.
  • MRWs lead to a number of complaints or grievances against even the registered Recruiting agents, as it encourages change or substitution of employment contract in favour of the Foreign Employer and tilted against the interests of the worker, on emigrant’s arrival in the country of employment. On an unknown land a vulnerable emigrants becomes a victim. The Recruiting Agents Associations/Federations have accepted this "substitution” part but put the onus on us for having fixed unreasonable "minimum referral wages” (MRWs) for various categories of jobs. This is also one of the issues on our priority list and a study is underway to review MRWs in line with the demands of the current employment situation abroad.
  • Recruitment of female domestic workers from India to any ECR country is restricted only through State Government recruiting agencies as there used to be numerous complaints in the past on exploitation of such category of workers and sending them through illegal means. However, cases of our workers going through illegal means have continued even after adoption of this policy. There has been a demand from Recruiting Agents Associations and Federations to allow registered RAs also to recruit female domestic workers for ECR countries. Certain Gulf States have offered to provide government guarantees. The issue has been engaging our attention for some time.
  • 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 needs 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.
  • As EAM mentioned, we are finalizing the new Emigration Management Bill. 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. Since 1983, when the current Emigration Act was adopted, we have now rich experience in emigration management with good data. Hope such experience and information will enable us to come out with a good Emigration Management Bill, which will satisfy the requirements of the current times. PoEs will do well to keep themselves updated on the Bill so that it is easy for them to adapt to their new roles once the changeover happens.
  • While the Ministry, and OIA Division in particular, are putting a lot of emphasis on the Pre-Departure Orientation Training (PDoT), it is ultimately you – all 13 PoEs, who can push all RAs to provide this training in soft skills to all their workers before departure as per jobs available abroad. I am glad that both the sides namely countries who receive workers, such as GCC and those sending workers, including India, have been in regular dialogue on such subjects through mechanism such as Colombo Process, Abu Dhabi Dialogue etc. I myself had the opportunity to participate in the last Abu Dhabi Dialogue ministerial meeting held in Dubai in October 2019.
  • I hope today's deliberations on the various aspects concerning emigration management would be fruitful and contribute towards adopting policies which would lay the foundation for safe emigration as per the present environment.
Thank you all.

New Delhi

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