//Pravasi centres to be opened in embassies

Pravasi centres to be opened in embassies

Emigration laws to be amended to tackle recruitment rackets

Thiruvananthapuram: Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi says that he has initiated steps to set up Pravasi centres attached to embassies to address the problems faced by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

Participating in a meet-the-press programme organised by the Kesari Journalists’ Trust here on Monday, Mr. Ravi said the Union Cabinet had taken the decision to set up the centres prior to his assuming charge. The Pravasi centre would be an avenue for redressing grievances of NRIs on issues pertaining to violation of labour laws. Besides, it would liaison with organisations representing them.

He said that though the Indian embassies now had labour attachés, the Pravasi centres under the Department of Overseas Indian Affairs would be able to provide more focussed services. The department was considering a proposal to amend the emigration laws with a view to providing them more teeth to tackle recruitment rackets. "We have been hearing of these rackets for so many years. But it still continues," he observed.

He said the proposal was to include certain punitive provisions in the laws. Under the current laws, prosecution was possible, but the penalty was very low. In reply to a question, he said violation of labour laws was a major concern for NRIs, particularly those working in the Gulf. He had asked ambassadors to provide him necessary inputs on the prevailing laws in Gulf countries. According to him, the laws were by and large beneficial to the expatriate community.

He said another major agenda before him was to computerise his department. Information on only out-bound Indians were available with the department now. Figures of how many had returned were not readily available. Once the department was computerised, it would be possible to get figures relating to States and migration to various countries. Mr. Ravi said that Kerala had slipped to the third place in terms of the number of persons seeking employment in the Gulf. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh now occupedthe first two places.The Minister said he proposed to bring more NRIs under the insurance scheme. The Government was considering a proposal that would cover legal assistance in the insurance scheme.