Fourth Ministerial Consultation of Colombo Process Begins in Dhaka


The Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, Shri Vayalar Ravi said that Indian Government has taken significant initiatives for the protection and welfare of Indian migrant workers. These include, revamping emigration rules to facilitate movement for overseas workers, with stringent penal provisions for unscrupulous agents and those aiding and abetting irregular migration. A fully computerized web-based emigration clearance system has also been installed to integrate all stakeholders in the migration process for a smooth transparent and orderly management of labour migration.

Addressing the Fourth Ministerial Consultation of Colombo Process in Dhaka today, Shri Ravi said that India will extend all cooperation for a dynamic and productive outcome to the ensuing deliberations for the adoption of the two important documents, namely, the Operating Modalities and the Dhaka Declaration, which envisage greater cooperation among the Member States to address common issues affecting migrant workers. He said that the member countries must work to establish a credible and effective joint consultative mechanism with the employers as well as between diplomatic missions and local governments for grievance redressal. As home to 58% of the current population, Asia must have a major say in any discussion on Globalization and Migration. He said that in the Colombo Process itself represent not only very large populations but also countries that are and will provide a large number of workers to global markets in future. There is a need to recognize through collective cooperation of all the Colombo Process Member States and the established consultation processes with the destination countries, that we would be able to ameliorate the conditions of our overseas workers and to realise the theme of ‘migration with dignity’.

In his address, the Minister listed five key areas of regional cooperation for this Ministerial Consultation’s consideration, namely,
• A model contract,
• Domestic and informal sector workers and their special needs,
• Harmonizing instruments of legal entry of workers,
• Exchange of labour-related information between sending and destination countries and
Cooperation on grievance redressal mechanisms.

He said the overseas worker in domestic and informal sector constitutes the most vulnerable section of emigrant population. There is a need to strengthen the mechanisms of coordination and cooperation with the Governments of the destination countries to give them the requisite social and economic protection. Given fluctuations in currencies and continued increases in cost of living, in most countries the real wage is way below the cost of living. There is need to consider the concept of the accepted international norm of linking the wage structure to the cost of living index.

Highlighting the initiatives taken by the Indian Government for the protection and welfare of Indian migrant workers, Shri Ravi said that an Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) in New Delhi, equipped with a 24-hour toll-free helpline that provides information, and grievance redressal mechanisms to migrant workers and their families. The helpline operates in several regional languages of India besides international lines for callers from UAE. The Indian Government has also provided on-site support and information to its overseas workers, through the establishment of special centres in destination countries, a recent one having been established in Dubai called the Indian Workers Resource Centre. He said that the Indian Government, in cooperation with Government of UAE, is initiating a web-based attestation of contracts to be made mandatory for all workers, especially women care-givers and workers in the unskilled category. He further said that the Indian Community Welfare Fund in all our missions abroad have been established to provide on-site help and assistance on a means tested basis to overseas workers and migrants in distress. The Indian government has also entered into agreements, including social security agreements, with almost all major destination countries in the Gulf and Europe for the protection and welfare of our overseas workers.

The Colombo Process was established in 2003, as a Regional consultative process on management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia. It has expanded its collaboration with labour destination countries through bilateral talks and meeting of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue in January 2008 and the Asia-EU Dialogue later in the same year. It has eleven members, who are meeting in Dhaka to review past activities and chart the future roadmap through the adoption of ‘Operating modalities’ and a ‘Ministerial Declaration’.


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