India will soon appoint community directors at its missions overseas, especially in the Gulf, to address the problems of its expatriates, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has said.
"I spoke to (foreign minister) Pranab Mukherjee and home minister (Shivraj Patil) and suggested to them to give me community directors. They have agreed. It is almost done," Ravi said.
The minister - speaking after the successful conclusion of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here - said that the community director would be appointed jointly by his ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs, will function from Indian embassies and consulates and report to the ambassador.
He said that it was very difficult for the MOIA to handle the problems of overseas Indian workers if it did not have its own people at Indian missions in such countries.
Asked at what level and from which cadre of the civil services the community director would be appointed, Ravi said that these details would have to be worked out.
But, he said, those appointed to the post should be hardworking and should be able to reach out to the Indian workers and others in trouble and patiently hear their problems.
"The person should be someone who does not take up the post for enjoyment but who works," he said.
"I want someone who can interact with the (Indian) associations, someone who can interact with the workers... spend one hour a day listening to some people, 100 people. It should be some kind of social activity.
"The person should not think of himself as a bureaucrat but a helping hand," the minister specified.
Speaking about the problems of Indian workers in the Gulf, he said that these generally include issues like non-payment or delayed payment of salaries, poor living conditions and denial of health and travel facilities.
He also narrated an instance in which two Indian workers from Uttar Pradesh had been living in a Gulf country for 14 years but got salaries for one year only.
Stating that his ministry was seriously concerned about the plight of such workers, he said that such problems mostly occur when these workers go to the Gulf nations on visit visas.
"Last year alone, 480,000 people went on visit visas which is equivalent to number of the workers who had gone through emigration clearance from my ministry. There, unscrupulous recruiting agents start creating problems from the airport itself," Ravi said.
He said that the victims are made to sign on papers on which Arabic lines are written and then land themselves in trouble.
"I want every clause in the job contract (given to the Indian worker) to be implemented in toto," he stressed.