The importance of emigrants 

News: Recently, the Indian government proposed a new Emigration Bill in 2021. The bill will provide a comprehensive data set for the efficient management of Indian migrants.  It proposes to integrate emigration management and streamline the welfare of Indian emigrant workers.  

Provisions of the Emigration Bill 

The bill proposes to modify the system of Emigration Check Required (ECR) category of workers applying for migration to 18 notified countries.   

The Bill makes it mandatory for all categories of workers to register before departure to any country in the world to ensure better protection for them, support and safeguard in case of vulnerabilities.  

The bill proposes to establish the Emigration Management Authority, an overarching authority to provide policy guidance. 

It aims to improve the protection measures through registration of all emigrants, skill upgradation and training, and pre-departure orientation. For example, skilling of migrant workers, foreign language training etc. can be of great help for workers. 

Besides workers, the Bill will also cover students (about 0.5 million students) who migrate for education.  

Status of Indian Emigrants  

Every year, about 2.5 million workers from India move to different parts of the world on employment visas. 

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, there are over 13.4 million NRI worldwide. Around 64% of NRI live in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the highest being in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Almost 90% of the Indian migrants living in GCC countries are low- and semi-skilled workers.  

Other significant countries of destination for overseas Indians are the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Canada. 

Importance of the Indian Diaspora for the host countries 

The skilled and semi-skilled Indian migrants are involved in nation-building of the destination countries. For example, various Indian-origin executives have become CEOs of top U.S. companies. This highlights the contribution of Indian talent to the U.S. economy.  

In addition, Indian semi-skilled migrant labourers have also contributed a lot in the global economy.  

Importance of the Indian Diaspora for India 

High remittances: As per a World Bank Group report (2021), India receives the highest annual remittances in the world ($87 billion), followed by China ($53 billion) among others. Remittances in India have been substantially higher than even Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). 

Socioeconomic development: According to a report by the National Statistical Office, urban and rural households receiving remittances have 23% better financial capacity than non-remittance-receiving households. 

NRIs can provide hedging against unsystematic risks. For example, after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, overseas Nepalese increased their remittances. This provided vital support to the domestic economy after a shock.  

Way Forward 

The government should look into increasing remittances to 10% of GDP and adopting Philippines’ model of promoting labour mobility. 

The cost of recruitment of such workers and the cost of sending remittances back to India should come down.  

The reduction of informal/undocumented migration, formalising all remittances, safety and well-being of migrant labour should be the top priority of the Indian government. It can be done by regulating the recruitment agencies through information technology.  

An integrated grievance redressal portal, ‘Madad’ was launched by the Union government in 2015.  

Source: The post is based on an article “The importance of emigrants” published in the “The Hindu” on 10th May 2022. 

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