Engaging Overseas Indians

P.K. Mohanty**

India’s engagement with its overseas community has been mainstreamed with the establishment of a focal Ministry – the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) – for all matters relating to overseas Indians. The Ministry’s mandate is to serve as a friend and guide to overseas Indians comprising Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

The Ministry envisions to foster sustainable, symbiotic and strategic engagement between India and Overseas Indians across the economic, social and cultural space that will best serve India as an emerging global power and meet the expectations of the overseas Indian community as a significant constituency around the world.

Its mission is to establish a robust and vibrant institutional framework to facilitate and support mutually beneficial networks with and among overseas Indians to maximize the development impact for India and enable overseas Indians to invest in and benefit from the opportunities in India.

India has the second largest Diaspora in the world befitting its own size, variety and depth of civilization. The overseas Indian community is spread across every major region in the world. The overseas Indian community thus constitutes a diverse, heterogeneous and eclectic global community representing different regions, languages, cultures and faiths. The common thread that binds them together is the idea of India and its intrinsic values. In every part of the world the overseas Indian community is recognised and respected for its hard work, discipline, non-interference and for successfully integrating with the local community. Overseas Indians have made significant contributions to the economy of the country of residence and have added in considerable measure to knowledge and innovation.

MoU On Employment Of Workers With Malaysia

An MoU was signed by Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Malaysian Minister of Human Resources at New Delhi on 3rd January, 2009 The MoU inter-alia provides- i) facilitation of employment of workers between the two countries; broad procedure for employment of workers; bilateral co-operation in promoting orderly recruitment; deployment of workers; protection and welfare of all categories of workers etc.

The first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) constituted under the provisions of MOU on employment of workers between Indian and Malaysia was held on 3rd March, 2009 at New Delhi.

Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)

The Ministry has set up the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in the Indian Missions in all the Emigration Clearance Required(ECR) countries to provide on site welfare support to overseas Indian workers in distress in the host countries. The Fund will, inter-alia, provide for – i) Boarding and lodging for distressed OIs in Household/domestic sectors and unskilled workers; ii) expenditure on incidental to and Airlifting of mortal remains to Indian or local cremation/burial of the deceased iii) Emergency medical care/air passage to the OIs in need) to the emigrants on a means tested basis

Bilateral Social Security Cooperation

Bilateral social security agreements protect the interests of expatriate workers on a reciprocal basis by providing for exemption from social security contribution in case of short-term contracts (provided the worker is covered under the home country’s social security system), exportability of pension in case of relocation to the home country or any third country and totalization of the contribution periods pertaining to both countries. The Ministry has already signed a bilateral social security agreement (SSA) with Belgium, France and Germany.

After successful completion of the negotiations, the Social Security Agreement (SSA) with Switzerland was signed on 3rd September, 2009; with Luxembourg on 30th September, 2009 and with Netherlands on 22nd October, 2009;

The agreement with Belgium has come into effect from 1st September, 2009. The agreement on Social Insurance signed with Germany came into force with effect from 1.10.2009.

Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) Convention

The 8th PBD Convention was held at the Vigyan Bhawan from 7-9th January, 2010. The Convention was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on 8th January, 2010 and the valedictory address was delivered by the President on 9.1.2010. The President also conferred Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award (PBSA), on 14 distinguished PIOs/ NRIs. Lord Khalid Hameed CBE DL Hampstead was the Chief Guest.

**Media & Communications Officer, PIB, New Delhi.

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