“It is indeed an honour for us in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to have all of you here to discuss the India-EU Partnerships in Mobility over the next three days. I welcome you all and look forward to very fruitful deliberations on various dimensions of this important and challenging subject of international migration. I am heartened by the enthusiasm shown by the Governments of the European countries, the diplomatic missions of the European countries in India, the experts in the field of international migration, the sister ministries in the Government of India, the State Governments and non-governmental
Ours is a new ministry established in the year 2004. The ministry serves as the nodal ministry for the large Indian diaspora. One of the key mandates of the ministry is managing international migration. Over the last four years the ministry has established itself and has chalked out its domain with diligence. I am happy to say that Minister Ravi has led several important initiatives focusing on migration management with considerable success.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs stands for converting international migration into an orderly, safe and ethical process by facilitating legal migration and curbing irregular migration in all forms. We stand for managing the migration process in a manner that it benefits all stakeholders. Our initiatives broadly include legislative reforms, regulatory reforms, process reforms and international cooperation. We are in the process of amending the law governing international migration from India. Protection and welfare of the worker is our central concern. We have signed instruments for bilateral cooperation with the leading countries of destination in Asia like the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Malaysia. Very soon a similar instrument will be signed with Bahrain as well.
We would like all the EU countries to benefit from the demographic advantage and technical skills that India has. At the same time, we wish to address their concerns regarding irregular entry, irregular stay, cultural integration, facilitated return and reintegration. This makes India a natural partner of the EU. We have finalised a mobility partnership with Denmark which is expected to be signed in March 2009. The objective behind the mobility partnership is to lay down a framework for facilitation of legal migration and prevention of irregular migration through joint action.
Bilateral social security coordination is of vital importance for safeguarding the expatriate workers against double coverage, loss of contributions or loss of benefits. We have already signed such agreements with Belgium, France and Germany. Similar agreements have been finalised with The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Switzerland, which would be signed shortly. Talks are underway with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary and some other countries, including Australia.
Friends, it is essential that the people seeking overseas employment are aware about the procedures and opportunities for legal migration and the pitfalls and dangers of illegal migration. The ministry has implemented the EU sponsored AENEAS project in partnership with the IOM, under which a Migration Resource Centre has been set up at Kochi in the State of Kerala to conduct a sustained information dissemination campaign and provide information services through a helpline. The ministry has also set up a national multilingual Overseas Workers Resource Centre to provide information to the seekers of overseas employment with regard to the employment opportunities, recruiting agents and the procedures involved. We have also launched a nationwide multimedia information campaign to create awareness about various aspects of migration. The Ministry has established an Indian Council of Overseas Employment (ICOE) to conduct migration studies and advise the Government on policy interventions for better preparing the workers, to enable them to meet the skill and other requirements of the international labour market.
There is a growing realisation that a general solution of universal applicability is an illusion. Therefore, nations toady are willing to work out customised bilateral and regional solutions. This conference would provide an opportunity to the academia as well as the practitioners to exchange ideas for developing such win-win solutions. We look forward to a constructive dialogue and specific outcomes”.