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Distress centre for Indians overseas

A toll-free number (1800-11-3090) for Indians working abroad will be announced at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Jan 7, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2008 04:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has readied a scheme to respond to distress calls from Indians working abroad.

The scheme, which entails setting up a toll-free number (1800-11-3090), would be announced at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, beginning January 7, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, told Hindustan Times. <b1>

The calls would be received at the Overseas Workers’ Resource Centre to be set up in New Delhi. Once the complaint is received, concerned embassies and high commissions would be instructed to investigate and take corrective measures.

“It is a major step. Indian workers abroad can approach the centre with any problem,” Ravi said. He added that once the scheme takes off, its ambit could be expanded to provide help to women married to NRIs. “We are in the process of identifying non-governmental organisations and legal teams to provide help to Indian women facing problems outside the country,” the minister said.

Ravi said the second announcement to be made at the three-day meet was the setting up of the Overseas Employment Promotion Council. The Union Cabinet has approved the council. It would have information on all kinds of job opportunities available in foreign countries, including skilled and semi-skilled categories as well as the service and technology sectors.

“The structure of the council would be announced soon. Once in place, it would help Indians to apply and get jobs legally and not illegally. They will not need to take up offers made by unscrupulous agents,” Ravi said.

The minister said that the twin thrusts of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas would be on involving NRIs in rural development and empowerment of women.

The effort would also be to constitute small investor groups, which will look into specific areas and sectors.

“In rural areas, we want NRIs to be closely involved with development through partnerships with local self-help groups. We do not need big investors; even middle-level NRIs could help. For this, credible NGOs and Indian associations would be roped in,” he said.