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Sushma Swaraj chairs 7th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Panel documenting history of migration, achievements of Diaspora in Girmitiya countries

Dr. V.K. Singh opened the exhibition on documenting history of migration of Diaspora in Girmitiya countries

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Newly arrived Indian labourers in Trinidad. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • The External Affairs Minister chaired the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Panel Discussion which documented the history of migration and achievements of Diaspora in Girmitiya countries
  • Girmitiyas’ is  the name given to generations of all those Indians, who were driven out of their motherland to serve as indentured labourers in the  British colonies
  • The history of migration and the tale of rising up to success from the pitiful conditions in the alien lands is an inspiring chapter of history that needs to be remembered

NEW DELHI, August 24, 2016: The External Affairs Minister chaired the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Panel Discussion VII in New Delhi on August 22, which documented the history of migration and achievements of Diaspora in Girmitiya countries. PBD is a conclave of the Indian Diaspora organised by the Ministry Of External Affairs. Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr V.K. Singh had opened the exhibition on documenting the history of migration of Diaspora in Girmitiya countries.

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‘Girmitiyas’ is the name given to generations of all those Indians, who were driven out of their motherland to serve as indentured labourers in the then British colonies of  Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, the Caribbean Islands and many other colonies. The word ‘Girmit’ is a mispronunciation of the word ‘agreement’. But in this case, it refers to the agreement between the British and the Indian labourers that turned out to be a trap which resulted in an endless cycle of torture and suffering. To fight for their cause, Mahatma Gandhi coined the word ‘Girmitia’ and called himself ‘Pehla Girmitia’ or the first Girmitia.

Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. V.K. Singh opens exhibition in New Delhi on documenting history of migration of diaspora in girmitiya countries Image Source: mea.gov.in
Minister of State for External Affairs Dr V.K. Singh opens exhibition in New Delhi on documenting history of migration of diaspora in Girmitiya countries Image Source: mea.gov.in

The indentured labours had to live a life full of complete hardships. The food was rationed and they had to face imprisonment and sometimes even corporal punishment if they failed in the tasks that were allotted to them. When the so-called agreement expired, they were free to leave but at their own expense. As a result, many stayed back, slowly assimilating themselves into the local community and becoming part of the alien lands. The years of hard work in the barren lands and years of enduring the pain and poverty also produced results as they were blessed with prosperity and abundance.

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From whatever left, these people had tried to set up small businesses in the town. Those who fought against all the odds paved the path of relief for their descendants. Over time, some of them became the heads of the governments in those countries, representing the nation and becoming the symbols of triumph over all predicaments.

The history of migration and the tale of rising up to success from the precarious conditions in the alien lands is an inspiring chapter of history that needs to be remembered.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

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“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)