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Pravasi centres soon in five countries

Vayalar Ravi, the minister for overseas Indian affairs, announced new Pravasi centres.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 11:16 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Vayalar Ravi, the new minister for overseas Indian affairs, announced Monday that Pravasi centres would soon be set up in five countries, including in the Middle East.

Addressing newsmen on his first visit to his home state after becoming a minister, Ravi said the process of setting up the centres was being speeded up and they would be of immense help to non-resident Indians (NRIs).

"We plan to have centres in the Middle East, the US, Europe and the Far East. They would begin functioning from the existing Indian embassies. I cannot however, say when the centres would actually start working," he said.

But he said that each centre would have two or three officials and would be directly under his ministry declaring: "We plan to equip these centres to deal with all issues faced by the Indian diaspora including providing assistance in legal matters."

He said his ministry's prime concern was to ensure the welfare of NRIs especially in the Middle East. "There are several issues related to their employment, living conditions etc that need to be addressed and my prime concern is to expedite the matter," he said.

"Although the parliament session is to begin shortly, I plan to visit the Middle East to have an on the spot assessment of matters there very soon," said Ravi.

He also said that his other concerns are to see that the present Emigration Act of 1983 is amended.

"The existing act lacks teeth and there is not enough provision to punish those who engage in fraudulent recruitment. I have also asked my team to draw up a plan for computerising the emigration department," said Ravi.

On the issue of granting voting rights to NRIs, the minister said that steps were being initiated.

Ravi said that he was not authorised to initiate talks to bring former Congress leader K. Karunakaran back into the party fold.

"I really feel sorry for him. Look at his plight now. In the Congress party, he was the decision maker and now he is waiting for others to decide," said Ravi.

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 11:16 IST