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Tharoor demands legal framework for Indian immigrants

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New Delhi: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday emphasized on addressing the issues related to immigration and refugees and demanded a legal framework for it. The former Minister of State (MoS) for MEA expressed his disappointment over the merger of Ministry of External Affairs with Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).

“Largest refugee migration was when 10 million Bangladeshis came to India in 1971. We also have a large number of migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh.”

He was speaking at a panel discussion after a launch of book ‘The Politics of Migration: Indian Emigration in a Globalised World’.

“We have been very hospitable and very open, but it’s rather very bizarre that a democracy, which even has a seat on UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) Executive Committee, has failed to write itself a refugee law and put a legal framework to it.”

“I have proposed one in private members bill in the last session. I have also been in correspondence with the Minister of External Affairs (Sushma Swaraj) on Foreign Immigration as many of us feel this is massively overdue. An immigration Policy must be codified into a law. At the moment our laws and policies are in grave danger of being out of date,” Tharoor said.

“I have also written very very concretely that the Standing Committee on Parliament on Foreign Affairs should be consulted before the government springs any Bill on the nation,” Tharoor added.

MoS in the MEA, Gen (retd) V K Singh spoke of the contribution of the Indian diaspora in different fields like politics of the nation they are residing in and also of their contribution towards remittance of USD 70 billion in 2014-15 alone.

“Today we have Mr Modi essentially asking the citizens of that country receiving him, to come and listen to him as a voice from their homeland. And he is actually walking a very fine edge there between what is appropriate and what is not so appropriate for a visiting overseas leader,” the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.

Tharoor mentioned the Indian diaspora’s influence in helping India, like in the Indo-US nuclear deals, and the imposition of sanctions post-Pokhran nuclear tests and Kargil wars.

“Should Indian foreign policy start leveraging on this. The answer is yes and no. Yes, but not overtly. The more overtly foreign citizens (of Indian origin) are made to look like sort of Indian power, the lesser their clout becomes. It’s better for us to encourage and quietly give them material, but don’t officially, publicly ever declare that.”

Tharoor also spoke to V K Singh for special attention on NRI’s issue.

“You may be aware that the Government of Kerala has officially opposed the merger of MEA and MOIA. I told General V K Singh that there should be full-time attention to the NRIs and migrants because the issue was a stepchild of the ministry. The merger means it will be further neglected. But this is rather a large and important set of issues and he has shown me that he is that MoS,” the Congress leader said.

Nadir Patel, Canadian High Commissioner to India, stated as many as 19 MPs are of Indian origin.  “Of these, 17 are from Punjab origin. Interestingly, Punjab does not have more MPs in Parliament (Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha seats) and we have four Cabinet ministers of Indian origin,” Patel said.

The Director of International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Sanjay Baru spoke of the importance of the term “brain gain”, coined by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, further exclaiming that Indian immigration should not be regarded as brain drain but as brain gain.

Rebecca Tavares, Country Representative, UN Office for Women in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives regarded Indian diaspora abroad as a “strategic asset” which India should leverage on. (IANS)

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No Ransom Paid for Release of Kerala Catholic Priest Tom Uzhunnallil: V.K. Singh

The priest, who was abducted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists from Aden in March last year

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V.K. Singh
Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh. IANS

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 13, 2017: Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh on Wednesday said no ransom was paid for the release of Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil.

The priest, who was abducted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists from Aden in March last year, was brought to Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman on Tuesday. He has reached the Vatican, said a Church spokesperson on Wednesday.

Also Read: Kerala Catholic Priest Tom Uzhunnallil Abducted by ISIS Rescued from Yemen: Sushma Swaraj

“No ransom was paid and the reason why Oman got into the efforts for release is… when direct efforts do not yield results, indirect measures are adopted and what’s important is to solve the problem,” Singh said while addressing the media here.

On a question when the priest is expected to return to India, the Minister said: “He (Tom) will have to decide that.” (IANS)

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Young Diaspora should be a part of India’s growth story by tapping opportunities, says General V.K. Singh

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Amb Rizali,& delegates of National Resilience Institute met Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (Retd) V.K Singh. Twitter

Bengaluru, Jan 7, 2017: Union Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh on Saturday urged the young diaspora to be a part of India’s growth story by tapping the opportunities the country offers through various programmes.

“India offers opportunities to be part of its growth story and realise your dreams through the government’s flagship programmes launched to achieve developmental objectives,” Singh said at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, held as part of the 14th Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Day.

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He said the Smart Cities Mission, Digital India, Skill India, Start-Up India and Swacch Bharat campaign are the Centre’s flagship programmes for building a prosperous, skilful, enterprising, clean and futuristic country.

Asserting that global good could not be achieved by one country alone, as the global challenges were complicated, Singh said the Indian diaspora had to strengthen the bridges that connect it with the motherland and create new ones.

“You can transform your lives and that of India through four Ts — talent, technology, training and team work — as the Prime Minister’s vision will make India the skill capital of the world by 2022,” the minister told about 400 young members of the Indian diaspora.

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By 2020, the average age in India will be 29, making it the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of the population in the working age group, he said.

The government had recently launched a platform for online registration of Indian students abroad, which will help the ministry estimate their exact numbers, map them and reach out.

Singh said the scholarship programme for diaspora children to pursue undergraduate courses in Indian universities and institutes had been revamped and extended to 66 countries from 44 and scholarship amount increased; besides a portal had been set up for online application and processing.

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“We will be happy to offer expertise in your areas of interest. Training can also be through internships, volunteering or even philanthropy. The choice is yours,” Singh said.

“Whether you are looking for adventure tourism, quality education, tech start-ups or even a market for novel utility products, India offers plethora of opportunities in cities and towns across the country,” the minister said.

The government had recently launched a platform for online registration of Indian students abroad, which will help the ministry estimate their exact numbers, map them and reach out.(IANS)

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More than 90,000 Indians repatriated during last 2 years, including 60,500 from Nepal

In the last 2 years, over 90,000 Indians have been repatriated, including 60,500 from Nepal, the Rajya Sabha was told on Thursday.

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Amb Rizali,& delegates of National Resilience Institute met Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (Retd) V.K Singh. Twitter

New Delhi, December 8, 2016: In the last 2 years, over 90,000 Indians have been repatriated, including 60,500 from Nepal, the Rajya Sabha was told on Thursday.

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According to PTI, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said in a written reply, “From time to time, Indian Missions/Posts in various countries are approached by overseas Indians with request for assistance including in matters relating to transportation of mortal remains to India, repatriation of Indians in distress abroad, non-payment of salaries/dues by employers, cheating by recruiting agents, He said government has facilitated repatriation of 92,211 Indians nationals during 2014-2016. “

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The minister added that apart from Nepal, the other countries from where Indians were repatriated include Iraq (7,925), Yemen (4,748), Saudi Arabia (4,570), Oman (4,043), Libya (3,775) and the UK (1,305).

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“The Ambassador has already met the distressed of M/s ETA Engineering Services. It has been taken up with the employer and Qatari Government authorities by the Mission. They have been assured that all the issues being faced by the workers would be sorted out at the earliest,” Singh added

prepared by NewsGram team with PTI inputs