India announces new measures for welfare of overseas Indians

Monday, September 17, 2012
Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs inaugurating
the conference of GCC countries and Jordan,
Yemen, Libya  Malaysia and Maldives    
New Delhi: India on Monday discussed the issues related to protection and welfare of Overseas Indian workers and announced to revise Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) scheme.

Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) made the announcement while inaugurating the 7th Heads of Indian Missions (HoMs) conference here in New Delhi.

Announcing ICWF scheme Mr. Ravi said the programme  is meant to aid distressed overseas Indians, to cover penalties in case of overstay or detention, apart from financial support to set up community centres in host countries.

In his Inaugural address, Ravi said that the MOIA is considering to open a Protector of Emigrants Office (PoE) in Bengaluru.

"I am happy to announce that the scope of ICWF has been made wider," Vayalar Ravi said, addressing heads of missions from the six Gulf Coordination Council (GCC) nations, other Arab countries, Malaysia and Maldives, who have nearly 7.5 million semi-skilled and unskilled Indian workers predominantly in construction, healthcare and household services sectors.

The fund can now be utilised for meeting boarding expenses of Indian nationals in distress in a foreign land from the existing 15 days to up to 30 days.

It can also be used for paying penalties faced by Indians staying illegally in a foreign country where prima facie the migrant worker is not at fault.

The fund may also come in hand for paying small fine to obtain release of Indians in jail or detention abroad.
The ICWF was created in October 2009 for the benefit of unskilled and skilled labourers going abroad to work in 17 nations where emigration clearance is required. The fund, allotted by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), is administered by Indian heads of missions to these nations.

The scheme was extended to 24 nations in 2010 and further to cover all 181 Indian missions in 2011.

The ICWF, under existing provisions, is also used for extending emergency medical care to overseas Indians in need, providing air passage to stranded Indians abroad and initial legal assistance in deserving cases.

The MOIA has spent Rs.21.7 crore (nearly $4 million) on ICWF to help 19,179 Indians abroad in the last three years.
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