NEW DELHI: The government has taken several major steps to protect the rights of Indian migrants who travel abroad for work, particularly unskilled workers who mostly work in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. “Globalisation has created a lot of mobility in the labour market and this mobility is conducive to the requirements of labour surplus countries like India,” says the report by Committee on External Affairs tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.
“The remittances sent by migrant workers, accounting for a significant share in foreign exchange earnings of nations and GDP growth, contribute significantly to the economic betterment of migrants’ families and economic growth of many developing countries,” said the report. Titled ‘Issues relating to migrant workers including appropriate legislative framework and skill development initiatives for prospective emigrants,’ the report says that “The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Malaysia are home to a vast majority of India’s migrant workers.”
“The resident Indian community in the Gulf region is over 8.5 million. The temporary workers’ community in the Gulf countries comprises of people from most Indian states, particularly from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal etc,” it said.
The committee, however, expressed concern over the fact that “the existing institutional arrangements for the protection, safety and welfare of Indian emigrants are based on inadequate data infrastructure. Moreover, in the absence of any articulated migration policy, the country has not been able to tap in the full potential offered by mobility of Indians in the international labour market and the efforts geared in this direction appears fragmentary and myopic.”
As an MEA official put it, “We have taken several positive steps, but I must admit that overall it is still work in progress, and a lot more needs to be done, not just by the MEA, but by several ministries including HRD and others.”