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Welfare centres for troubled NRIs

Indians abroad who fall into difficult times can soon turn to welfare centres being set up at Indian missions to provide help.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2007 11:48 IST

Indians abroad who fall into difficult times can soon turn to welfare centres being set up at Indian missions to provide financial, legal and medical help.

"Initially, there will be three such centres - in Dubai, Washington and Kuala Lumpur - and these will come into operation by October this year," a senior official in the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) told IANS.

He said cabinet approval had been granted for the centre in Dubai, which would be a full-fledged one under the jurisdiction of the Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Washington centre will cover the US and Canada, the one in Kuala Lampur will cater to Southeast Asia while the Dubai centre will serve six Gulf nations.

Apart from the UAE, the other Gulf nations are Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. There are around five million Indians in the region, and many of them work as contract workers.

He said each of these centres would be headed by a consular level officer under the jurisdiction of the Indian envoy in that country. But the officer would report to MOIA. Legal, financial and medical counsellors will assist the officers.

"These counsellors will be taken preferably from Indians settled in that country but we are not averse to taking local citizens of the country concerned," the MOIA official said.

He said while the Dubai centre would have all the three counsellors, the Washington office would have only the legal and financial counsellor. The Kuala Lumpur one would have the legal and medical counsellors.

"In Dubai, the legal counsellor will basically work on workers' rights. The medical or health counsellor will render psychiatric help to traumatised workers, especially domestic maids. The financial counsellor will help workers make investments from their small savings instead of sending all their earnings as remittances to India."

At the Washington centre, the legal counsellor's work will be mainly concentrated on resolving problems arising out of marriages between Indian citizens and overseas Indians.

There have been numerous reports of Indian brides being abandoned, abused or betrayed after getting married to Indians in those countries and the MOIA has been taking several steps to stop this trend.

The MOIA official said the role of the financial counsellor would be to primarily aid Indians there who are interested in investing in the booming Indian economy.

"In the Kuala Lumpur centre, which will cover Southeast Asia, the role of the legal and medical counsellors will be similar to those in Dubai," he said.