International helpline for NRIs from Jan 8 : Ravi

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Kochi, Jan 3: Union Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi has said an international helpline for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) would be opened to help them air their grievances directly to the Ministry.

Delivering the presidential address yesterday at the two-day 'Keraleeya Pravasi Sangamam, 2008' here, Mr Ravi said the helpline would be launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 8 in New Delhi. He said the helpline, Open 24x7, could be used by NRIs in distress to address their problems to the officials concerned in the Ministry. Taking note of the mushrooming of recruitment agencies and their exploitation of the job aspirants, Mr Ravi said the Bill for the amendment of the relevant Act to control such agencies would be presented in the next Parliament session.

On the granting of voting rights to NRIs, Mr Ravi hoped that the Bill concerned would be introduced in the next Parliament session for amending the Peoples Representative Act for the inclusion of Overseas Indians in the voters' list.

The minister said agreements had been signed with certain countries to ensure minimum wages, proper accommodation and medical insurance to the NRIs working there.

''As per the agreement, a consultative machinery would be formed, which would meet once in a one month, and interaction at the Government level will be held every six months,'' Mr Ravi added.

Speaking on the occasion, Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said the Government had decided to raise its stake in the NORKA ROOTS, a company floated by the Government's Department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA), to 51.3 per cent from the present 25 per cent in an effort to provide more efficient services to the overseas Keralites.

Mr Achuthanandan said the Government had initiated steps to provide pension and indentity cards to the Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs).He added NORKA offices would be opened in Chennai and Bangalore, apart from the existing centres at New Delhi and Mumbai. Parliamentarian Sebastain Paul and NORKA-ROOTS CEO K M Ramanandan, were among others present on the occasion.


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