The numbers are likely to multiply with the start of the mission’s sixth phase on September 1.
A non-resident Indian (NRI) welfare group has submitted an appeal for a ‘comprehensive rehabilitation scheme’ for NRIs who are returning to their hometowns amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The Pravasi Legal Cell (PLC), through its president, Jose Abraham, and Mathukutty Kadone, the chairman of PLC Think Tank, submitted the petition to the Government of India’s Ministry of Finance recently. Other welfare groups have also submitted similar petitions, including one that was filed to the Supreme Court of India by social worker Advocate Hashiq.
“The representation highlights the need to roll out an expatriate-centric comprehensive rehabilitation scheme, in view of the fact that over a million expatriates have returned from different parts of the world through the Vande Bharat Mission,” Abraham said.
He added that the numbers are likely to multiply with the start of the mission’s sixth phase on September 1.
The suggestions laid out in the petition include categorising the returning NRIs into three categories: The first is that of expatriates who are returning on their own free will; second would refer to the expats who still wish to return abroad; and the third would include those who were compelled to return to India amid the crisis.
The representation suggests general relief measures that cover all the categories.
Relief measures proposed
For the first category of returnees, the government could create a conducive investment atmosphere. “The clearance process must be a single-window system and less cumbersome. It is also suggested to give direction to the banks and NBFCs to provide low-interest rate loans to those who have plausible business models that can be started in the country,” Abraham explained.
For the second and third categories, the representation proposes a swift formulation of a ‘skills database’ and steps to create counselling centres. These centres will not just provide assistance to alleviate mental stress, but should also help NRIs re-skill or up-skill their existing skills. Details about new job opportunities should also be provided.
Among the general relief measures, PLC suggests the prompt registration of all expatriates under the skill mapping initiative (SWADES) of the government. It also proposes to give direction to all the stakeholders to ensure that expats would benefit from the NRI Bima Yojna.
“Furthermore, the relatives of all those who died from Covid-19 should be provided with financial support. The representation also suggests the need to chart awareness programmes, which will help returning expatriates reintegrate into the society.
“Last, but not the least, the representation emphasises on the need to establish a National Expatriate Commission without further delay,” explained Kadone.
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