Parliamentary Panel rebukes MEA for delayed execution to aid Indian women living overseas

the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs observed that despite nearly two years having passed, the scheme has not been implemented.

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India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs has criticized the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for the delayed execution of a program designed to aid Indian women living overseas.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) announced the launch of the One-Stop Centres (OSCs) scheme in May 2021 to aid Indian women living overseas who are impacted by violence and abuse. However, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs observed that despite nearly two years having passed, the scheme has not been implemented.

The committee called for the immediate opening of such centres in missions where they have received approval.

“…From the reply of the Ministry it is seen that the One Stop Centre Scheme is yet to take off,” the panel said in its report.

“In view of the pivotal role likely to be played by such centres in providing timely assistance to the distressed Indian women abroad, the Committee reiterate that ‘One Stop Centres’ should be opened immediately in Missions where they have been approved and the status in this regard may be furnished to the Committee,” it added.

The committee urged the Ministry to furnish the status of these centres to the Committee. According to the MEA’s records, between 2017 and 2019, nearly 4,000 married Indian women residing abroad reported cases of domestic violence and harassment.

Calls for a comprehensive database

The panel called on the Indian government to create an accurate and comprehensive database on the Indian diaspora. The committee’s report, which was presented in Parliament on Monday, highlighted that the absence of such a database hinders the government’s ability to implement welfare schemes for the overseas community and address its challenges.

The committee expressed surprise that the External Affairs Ministry does not possess authentic data on the Indian diaspora, as registration by the diaspora is voluntary, and the community does not always register with Indian embassies and missions abroad. Furthermore, the data varies due to the mobility of the diaspora.

The panel, chaired by BJP MP P.P. Chaudhary, has recommended that embassies and missions abroad play a more proactive role in encouraging the diaspora to register themselves in coordination with various diaspora associations, cultural organisations, and student bodies.

The committee has also recommended that the government develop a module for migrant workers and overseas students within a specified timeframe. The Indian diaspora is diverse, consisting of labourers, workers, traders, professionals, and students. Therefore, the report states, it is essential to develop a tailored approach to address the unique challenges faced by each subgroup.

Indian women living overseas
(Source: Twitter)

Largest diaspora

There are over 32 million people of Indian origin residing outside India, and India expects them to play an important role in promoting nation’s image, culture, and economic interests. The diaspora also contributes significantly to India’s economy by way of remittances, investments, and expertise.

The Indian government has launched various initiatives to engage with the Indian diaspora, such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) and the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana (MGPSY). The PBD is a biennial event that provides a platform for the Indian diaspora to engage with the government and contribute to India’s development. The MGPSY is a pension and life insurance scheme for overseas Indian workers.

However, the effectiveness of these initiatives depends on the availability of accurate data on the diaspora, says the report.

This story was written with input from IANS

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