//Passport norms liberalised, but not benefit Malayalees

Passport norms liberalised, but not benefit Malayalees

3 Dec, 2006 

NEW DELHI:

The government has liberalised passport norms and emigration clearance will now be necessary for only 18 of the 191 countries under the United Nations. Earlier, clearances were required for 137 countries. The liberalization does n't help Malayalees, who are the largest migrant work force from India.

Countries for which emigration clearance is still required (or the negative list) are Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, Syria, Jordan, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Iraq, Brunei, Nigeria, Sudan and Libya.

The liberalisation policy will retain bribing practices throughout  the regional offices of Protector of Emmigrants in Kerala.

  • India recieved $23 billion remittance during 2005-06 from NRIS
  • Non Gulf NRIs contributed only $ 3 billion
  • A whopping amount of $ 20 billion was from Arabian Gulf
  • Kerala recieved  the huge portion
  • FDIS from GCC exceeded $ 2 billion this year
  • India calls for more Arab investment

 Calling Indian workers in the Gulf countries 'an investment of human capital in the Arab world,' Chidambaram said remittances from Indians working in these countries worked out to a whopping $20 billion. In the first quarter of this year alone, remittances have exceeded $6 billion, he said. He was speaking at inaugural address at an international conference at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre on promoting India-Arab economic relations last week.

According to officials in the ministry of overseas Indian affairs, the reduction in the number of countries that require ECR clearance has increased options for people while simultaneously reducing paperwork. The ECR regulation meant long delays and the hassle of dealing with passport authorities, ruthless touts and fraudulent recruitment agents. For all this trouble, there was no guarantee that the clearance would come in time.

"We would like to encourage people to migrate since we are unable to provide jobs for them here. These workers also contribute to foreign exchange earnings and the move will make the procedure more transparent," a source said.

As per official estimates, about 5.5 lakh people leave India for work annually. While unofficial estimates peg this figure at close to a million, even the official figures reveal the increasing preference of Indians to travel abroad for work. The number of Indians who migrated for work in 2001 was 2.79 lakh. With the numbers swelling, private remittances have also seen an upswing. The remittances that India benefits from is hardly petty change. For instance, in 2004-05, India earned Rs 66,861 crore in remittances from overseas workers.

With a rapid change in the demographic profile of the Western world marked with dipping production rate and an ageing population, there is a need for technically skilled and unskilled workers. On the other hand, countries like India, which have a large manpower resource, are unable to provide sufficient jobs.

Faced with stiff competition from other Asian countries, the government has also started programmes for skill upgradation. Overseas affairs minister Vayalar Ravi said pre-employment orientation workshops and pre-departure training programmes had been kickstarted. In fact, training material from the International Labour Organisation has been adapted for specific states with high migration.