Reaching out to expatriates, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a 24X7 multi-lingual helpline for them and said a move to regularise migration was in the offing through an online programme.
Asserting that the expatriates could count on the Indian government in the times of crisis, he said they could use the avenues like the MADAD portal to reach the government for help.
Specifically for Indians in Saudi Arabia, he announced the setting up of worker resource centres in Riyadh and Jeddah to provide them with all necessary help.
Addressing a gathering of L&T workers who are constructing metro rail in Riyadh, he said the country was proud of their contribution which has enhanced India's image abroad and opened doors for overseas employment opportunities for their compatriots.
"Whenever any good news regarding you people comes, I feel as happy as your family. When there is news of some concern regarding you, I feel the pain like your family would because you are my family," Modi said, adding that he shared their happiness and sorrow.
"Government has started a programme called e-migrate. In the coming days, we are working to regularise migration," he said.
"In the coming days, we plan to establish worker resource centres in Riyadh and Jeddah to meet your needs and there will also be a 24X7 helpline. A call centre will be established whose facilities can be availed in different languages and through this helpline you can share your problems," Modi said.
Describing the expatriates as the pride of India, Modi asked them to use forums like MyGov website and 'Narendra Modi Mobile App' "through which you can reach me and I can communicate with you."
"By using this I will be in your pocket all the time. When you can have your Prime Minister in your pocket, what more do you want," Modi said, evoking peals of laughter.
"I am free 24 hours. I have no work. I have the work of over 125 crore people. I have no work of my own," he said.
He said the government has been trying to address the problems of the Indians abroad and cited the example of evacuation undertaken in Yemen. In this context, he praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj saying she and her team are giving priority to these issues.
"The MEA, the entire team of officials, Sushmaji...they are always helping Indians who face any problems overseas," he added.
"MADAD portal is a digital way of getting your voice to reach the government of India. When our community faces troubles we reach out to them immediately," Modi said.
Praising the Indians working abroad, he said they have earned respect for the country and as a result, Indians are prefered for services abroad. In this context, he said what he was told by the Saudi rulers about the Indian workers had made him feel proud.
"In this way, you have opened doors for employment opportunities for your fellow Indians. India has regained its respect," he said.
Modi said earlier Indians looked at lightly but now they are taken seriously. "Now Indians are seen with respect."
He said in the future, the world will require workforce which only India can provide.
Talking about the schemes in the offing for expatriates, Modi said the multi-lingual 24X7 call centre will be the second one to be established.
In a heartwarming gesture, Prime Minister Modi also shared a meal with Indian workers and interacted with them.
"Eating together, hearing each other's thoughts and experiences...at L&T Workers' Residential Complex in Saudi Arabia," the PMO tweeted along with a picture of the prime minister sharing a meal with the workers.
"Dear brothers, it is your sweat and toil that has brought me here," he said, adding that, "If you look at history, there are several instances of great projects set up by Indian workers."
Earlier, while addressing the workers, Modi said, "Your sweat and toil is the pride of India."
"Several times you and your dear ones have written to me, mentioning your hopes, heart breaks and expectations. I feel a part of your family," he said.
Hailing their contribution, Modi said India is uniquely qualified to satisfy the needs of manpower that the world requires today.