Indian consulate to set up nine welfare committees

Mission decides to resume practice of organising open house on one Friday of every month to assist blue-collar workers

Dubai: Distressed Indians will get more assistance through the Indian consulate and the community members here with the mission set to form committees to assist in welfare outreach programmes.

The Indian Consulate in Dubai will form 10 committees with members from the community to help resolve grievances of Indians in distress, the Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul told Gulf News on Tuesday night.

He was speaking after a celebration of the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (NRI Day) jointly organised by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

Vipul said the new committees will handle issues related to labourers, housemaids, prisoners, illegals, seafarers, patients, students, culture.

Volunteers, who have been assisting the consulate, and community leaders along with consular officials will form these committees, he said.

The committee members will have an advisory role and can help the mission with cases that can be covered under the Indian Community Welfare Fund [ICWF] and beyond, he said.

“They can help in spreading awareness about ICWF and also help through the community members when the government cannot assist [the needy] through the ICWF.”

He gave the example of school fee payment for children in needy families which cannot be covered under the ICWF. “These committee members can check if there is someone in the community who wants to help in such cases and help connect with them.”

He said the aim is to address the gap of an institutional framework of addressing community issues.

People who have been active in helping the community in various issues will be given preference in these committees, Vipul said.

“Every six months, we will have open meetings with the Indian community where these committees will present the cases they handled.”

The mission will also enhance its outreach programme by resuming the open house, which was discontinued some years ago since the consulate officials were made available every morning to address the issues of community members.

Vipul said the need for dedicating a day for an open house was again felt as many Indian workers were not able to visit the mission during working days.

“We do not refuse any meetings. But sometimes we feel that the Indian labourers may be missing out as consulate is not working on Fridays. So, for redressal of their problems we have decided to designate one Friday every month for an open house.”

“We hope to begin with the last Friday of this month which is January 26, an auspicious occasion [as it is the Republic Day of India],” he said.

The mission has also decided to enhance its engagement with the Indian student community in the UAE. In February, a day will be dedicated to address issues and concerns faced by university students here, Vipul said.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri urged the Indian community leaders who attended the event to devote their time and resources to help the needy members of the community.

He noted that almost 70 per cent of the three million Indians in the UAE are blue collar workers who need help from the community and urged the community leaders to take a pledge for setting aside at least a few hours of their time to serve the workers.

From a time their engagement with the Indian community was limited to the elite members, Suri said, Indian diplomats are now rendering 24×7 services, attending to cases reported through social media and addressing community issues even on holidays.

The senior diplomats honoured the previous winners of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the Indian government at the event.

Since 2003, India observes January 9 as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to celebrate the Indian diaspora across the world. The day commemorates the return of India’s Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Mumbai in 1915.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to over 100 Indian- origin parliamentarians held in New Delhi as part of the PBD celebrations on Tuesday was screened at the event held in the Indian consulate auditorium. A short film on the government’s achievements in supporting the Indian diaspora across the world was also shown.

Consulate’s welfare programmes in 2017

Air tickets issued: 403

Mortal remains repatriated: 39

Subsistence allowance issued to 300 workers

Penalties paid for 50 people

Labour complaints handled: 1,100

Hospital cases assisted: 86

Sailors repatriated: 230


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