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Embassies to have 'Pravasi centres'
George Iype in Kochi | February 16, 2006 13:32 IST
Last Updated: February 16, 2006 23:14 IST
The government will set up facilitation centers for overseas Indians at all its missions abroad. Called 'pravasi centres', they will be used to address problems faced by overseas Indians across the globe.Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, who is in charge of the project, says this will also speed up the implementation of the dual citizenship programme.
"The proposed pravasi centres will provide unique and focused services to NRIs. My priority is to attend to the issues that Indians living abroad face. These centres will ensure that the Indian government stays aware of their problems and issues," Ravi told rediff.com.
The pravasi centres, he said, would also address grievances regarding violation of labour laws. "These centres will also liaison with NRI organisations, so that we will be able to provide them with more focused services," he said.
The government also plans to amend the Emigration Act to check illegal recruitment for jobs abroad, he said. The amended Act will give more clout to agencies monitoring recruitment agents, and have provisions for stringent punishment for those involved in illegal recruitment.
The amendment follows innumerable complaints about illegal recruitment, especially to the Middle East.
The Ministry is also in the process of computerising all emigration offices across India. Recruitment agencies would be directed to provide details of the place and nature of employment provided to jobseekers and these will be filed.
Observing that about 25 million Indians are currently working abroad, Ravi said many of them, particularly in Gulf countries, face problems.
Ravi said he would also speed up the process of dual citizenship, which the government launched last month at the fourth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in January.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had handed over the first Overseas Citizenship of India cards to two Indian Americans at the Pravasi Divas in Hyderabad.
Ravi said his Ministry will soon complete the process of rationalisation of categories for the OCI cards and ensure convergence of benefits. The Ministry has already released an OCI handbook that gives guidelines for getting the OCI cards.
The first OCI card grants a multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visa for visiting India, and exempts registration with local police for the duration of their stay. The card holder will have parity with Non-resident Indians in respect of economic, financial and educational fields, except in relation to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
Other benefits to OCIs will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs under Section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, Ravi said.