Blue collar workers to get priority when India begins evacuation from abroad

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The ground rule for evacuation has been laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Blue collar workers will get the first preference when government of India begins evacuation of Indian stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic.

Hindustan Times quoted a top government official saying that this was according to the ground rules spelt out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the evacuation. Students stranded in different countries is the next in the scheme of things. They will be followed by everyone else including Indians who were travelling for work, or pleasure.

“The prime minister was very clear… That the Indian expatriate workforce should get the first choice to return,” the official told Hindustan Times. According to the blueprint. Indian missions abroad will compile a list of people who want to return to India, prioritise them and then coordinate with the states concerned.

At one meeting, PM Modi pointed out how the poorest of Indian immigrant workers - mostly in the Gulf countries - had helped India tide over an economic crisis caused by economic sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and other western countries in 1988 after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee cleared five underground nuclear bombs in Pokhran.

The Resurgent India Bond floated by the State Bank of India was targeted to raise $2 billion; it netted more than $4 billion.

Two decades later, India’s massive diaspora is still sending money home. In 2019, according to the World Bank, India was still the world’s top recipient of remittances. The diaspora sent $82 billion; nearly half came from migrant workers in West Asia, the HT report said.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the Indian workers in West Asian countries hard. Many have lost their jobs due to suspension of projects and are stuck.

Indian workers in six Gulf countries account for 70 percent of 12.6 million Indians abroad. The United Arab Emirates is home to 3.4 million Indians. Another 2.6 million are in Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain are home to another 2.9 million NRIs.

Apart from workers in the Gulf countries, Indian missions had received requests from thousands of students who were stuck in countries across the world, ranging from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America to Russia, Singapore and Philippines.

The Centre hasn’t yet decided when to start the evacuation flights but the timing, and the pace of the evacuation would be heavily dependent on governments in the home state of the workers. The Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba has already asked chief secretaries of the states to quickly set up quarantine facilities and hospital beds.

Kerala has already announced that they were prepared to accommodate at least two lakh expatriates, mainly blue-collar workers, at its special quarantine centres. The state has already started registering expatriates who like to return (Based on Hindustan Times report).

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