The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Amrita Mallick, EMBA 2015-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
India still turns out to be the leading country in remittances, thanks to its global migrant workforce. But it has got its share of sad tale also. It is an irony that although we have data on the number of shoes or cars exported from India but at the same time we don’t have any clear picture of the number of Indian migrants. Remittances from Indian migrants play a huge role in Indian economy , yet sad enough to say that India lacks a good migration policy. It cannot be denied that a policy on this matter is very much crucial to build solid data on the number of migrants and their contribution to the economy.
If we give a look at the shortcomings the major drawback of the existing system that comes in front of us is the application of Emigration Act of 1983.Under this act no citizen of India is being permitted to emigrate without PGE authorization. Under this act two kinds of passports are created . Emigration Check Required(ECR) and Emigration Check Not Required(ECNR).This practice needs to be abolished immediately because people holding ECR passports are so much harassed – be it at passport offices recruitment agencies, travel agents ,airports and emigration and custom officials that the term ‘ECR’ can be specially interpreted as ‘Exploitation Compulsorily Recommended’. Instead a more inclusive approach should be taken towards this so that people irrespective of their educational qualification would be able to migrate safely and through legal channels.
The cost of migration is also another challenging issue being faced by the migrants. According to a survey people have been seen to be paying almost four times more than the PGE-approved service charges while migrating to Saudi Arabia .Nurses report that they pay Rs3 lakh at the time of recruitment.
The next problem is faced by the workers once they reach the destination. For instance ,in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which host about 20 lakh Indian migrants each, the direct contact for most workers on any issue is the labour attaches affiliated to the Indian Embassy. In both countries, only two labour attaches are available in both the embassies and the consulates. Assuming that each attaché has 20 workers to help them handle labour issues,40 aides per 20 lakh people is not only meager , but unacceptable to take care of the workers problems.
Last but not the least, the lack of rehabilitation policy also poses even a greater challenge to the migrants who return to India. An effective rehabilitation policy will help migrants use their enhanced skills when they return home. But the truth is that we are indifferent towards encouraging and offering them reemployment. We even don’t know how many people are actually returning to the homeland.
Thus it is high time India gave its migrants their share of rights in return for the amount we receive in remittances. A strong migration policy is the only solution to this.