Overseas professionals may soon be working in India

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New Delhi, Jan 08 (UNI) The Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) Ministry is working on a plan to provide overseas Indian professionals like doctors, dentists, architects and charatered accounts, the opportunity to work in India, OIA Minister Vayalar Ravi announced today.

''We are now working on extending a wider range of benefits to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders,'' he said, while addressing the 1,500 delegates of the sixth edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) here.

In this context, Mr Ravi pointed out that this was not an easy task as it entailed an amendment to the relevant legislation, besides reaching a broader consensus among the stakeholders.

He said the inter-ministerial consultation process had already been completed and steps would be taken to commence the implementation process in the ensuing year.

Pointing out that his ministry had so far issued more than 200,000 OCI cards since its launch two years ago, Mr Ravi said efforts were being made to cover a much larger number of overseas Indians in the ensuing year.

The Minister announced that his ministry had reached 'in principle' Social Security Agreements with the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Norway, and hoped to sign the agreements soon.

''We have been pursuing bilateral Social Security Agreements with several member-states of the European Union that had a significant overseas Indian population.'' Referring to the issues relating to the overseas Indian workers, Mr Ravi said bilateral instruments on labour and employment had already been signed with the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar. They provide for specific steps, to ensure, the protection and welfare of overseas Indian workers, in all sectors. They also provide for a Joint Working Group to explore new employment opportunities, for the work force in India.

A similar agreement 'in principle' with Malaysia had already been reached and it would be signed soon.

In this context, he expressed the hope that similar bilateral labour agreements would be signed with Sultanate of Oman and Kingdom of Bahrain during this year.

Appealing to the Overseas Indians to contribute their mite to India's social development, Mr Ravi said ''our objective is to raise the level of engagement to go, beyond mere investment related issues, and address and broader agenda.'' ''I believe that this will provide, the vast majority of you, the opportunity to contribute-each in your own way-to India's development story.'' UNI SH SK DS1432

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