It is estimated that over 200 million people at present live outside their country of origin. In this era of globalization, international migration is going to be one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century as more and more people migrate from their country of birth for employment and family reasons. New forms of migration are emerging and new models of migration management are being proposed the world over. At the same time problems of irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants continue to challenge policy makers.
India as a major country of origin as well as destination has to play a key role in the area of international migration in the years to come. The policy perspective of the Government of India on international migration is very clear. It is not our policy to encourage or accelerate or push emigration. However, we respect the right of an individual to emigrate. The Government believes that emigration is an economic process which must be choice-based, rights based, orderly and humane. We are willing to cooperate with destination countries for addressing their labour supply gaps as well as their concerns regarding integration, irregular migration and return of irregular migrants by entering into human resources mobility partnerships with them.
Under the unregulated domain, India is a major source of high-skilled workers and professionals for USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, UK and other European countries.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has signed a MOU on Labour Mobility Partnership Agreement with Denmark in 2009. Bilateral consultations are in process with Sweden, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, etc. It is also proposed to sign a Joint Declaration on HRMPA with the European Union (EU). The salient features of HRMPA are as under :
a) Facilitating legal migration by removing undue barriers and securing labour market access.
b) Combating and preventing all forms of irregular migration.
c) Enhancing the protection and welfare of migrants.
d) Engaging in bilateral and multilateral cooperation for improving the management of international migration.
HRMPA is a multi-sector and multi-ministry endeavor. HRMPA is to handle human movement across borders in a comprehensive manner, which has enormous potential. It also encompasses mobility of students since students migration is linked to economic migration. Further Indian students, who have completed a course in higher processional education or university education in a country with which India has signed a HRMPA, may be eligible to apply to remain in that country to gain work experience or remain a permanent resident provided they meet the requirements set out in the Migration Regulations.
The objectives of HRMP are the following:
- A non-binding framework based on reciprocity and socio-economic development of signatories to expand economic cooperation in the field of student mobility, labour and employment.
- Based on mutual responsibility and concerted action for better management of migration flows, including combating and preventing illegal migration flows to address virtuous cycle of migration.
- Facilitates legal migration and benefits and opportunities that well-managed legal and safe migration can bring to workers, employers and to the signatories alike.
- It can also effectively address the concerns such as irregular migration and integration problems. It is based on these objectives that features of HRMP flow.
- Migration of skilled workers: orderly migration of qualified human resource as a long-term solution for sustaining global growth rate in view of factors like demographic asymmetry and globalisation of economies.
- Exchange of academics and students: To catalyze exchange of knowledge for mutual human resource enrichment.
- Workers’ welfare and social protection: To lay down an effective framework for bilateral cooperation for maximizing benefit from human resource mobility and minimizing its risks.
- Prevention of and combating irregular migration, smuggling and trafficking of people.
By engaging the HRMP, we can expect the following benefits.
- Orderly migration of professionals and skilled workers between countries to meet the demands of skilled workers of both countries.
- Facilitate regular and orderly recruitment of workers.
- Create optimal conditions for establishing contacts and exchange of knowledge between employers organisations, industry and sector
- Mutually beneficial studies to identify emerging sectors in the economy which require qualified human resource to plug gaps in the labour market.
- Enhance bilateral cooperation in areas of skill development (to meet Australian standards) to address demand-driven skill matching, capacity-building and developing good practices to better manage flows.
HRMP is based on four pillars, one of which is prevention of and combating irregular migration, smuggling and trafficking of people. It is further stated that it is a non-binding framework which is based on mutually binding and concerted action for better management of migration flows including combating and preventing illegal migration flows to address virtuous cycle of migration. It is only by facilitating legal migration that benefits and opportunities can be brought to the workers, employers and concerned nations.
Brief on Human Resource Mobility Partnership (HRMP) between India and Australia
An Indian delegation led by Secretary, MOIA visited Australia from 2-5 May, 2011. Apart from having negotiation on Social Security Agreement between India and Australia Secretary, MOIA also had a meeting on HRMPA with officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Immigration and Citizenship and also with the officers of Department of Education, Environment and Workplace Relations of the Government of Australia.
During the meeting Secretary, MOIA explained that HRMP is a multi-sector and multi-ministry endeavour. Secretary also made a suggestion that a formulation of the HRMP is to handle human movement across borders in comprehensive manner, which has enormous potential. It is basically proposes a non-binding MoU, a statement of intent not a treaty.
Further to this, Secretary, MOIA HRMP encompasses the following:
- Movement of regular/legal migrations: Australia has a well-developed Migration Program and India can synchronise with it to provide skilled migration based on skill matching with Australia.
- Prevention of irregular migration: India does not support irregular migration in any way and it would like to work with Australia in creating awareness, publicity and training to prevent and combat irregular migration.
- Development and migration: Tremendous synergies are available between two countries. It may lead to cooperation in capacity building, interaction of academia, research and studies and synchronization of degrees and certificates.
- Mobility of students is also included in the HRMP since student migration is linked to economic migration.
The Australian side recognizes complementary needs and interest of both the countries. They have also explained that Australia has global flexible immigration system, which provides skill visa, JWG on CPV matters, etc. Australia facilitates in open and non-discriminatory manner the migration though it has never entered into a bilateral mobility partnership due to reason that they have a flexible and transparent system of migration. However, they have agreed that both the countries could explore linkages between skills and business. The Australian side have also stated that it requires internal consultation before they respond to Indian suggestion.
Australia is not averse to entering into HRMP with India. Since the Australian system is different to that of European system, it may be necessary to incorporate Australian features in the draft HRMP. Interaction with Ministries of Commerce, External Affairs and HRD is required to have an internal coherence on working of JWG on CPV and Education