Other requests made by the ISC includes exemption in quarantine for vaccine recipients travelling to India.
Community leaders in Abu Dhabi met visiting Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan on Tuesday evening and apprised him of the problems faced by expatriates.
The bid to acquire approval from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) for Abu Dhabi residents, who are stuck back home in India, topped the list of every association head.
India Cultural and Social Centre (ISC), Abu Dhabi, put forth a nine-point charter of demands to the minister during a meeting held at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, where ICA approvals took priority on the agenda.
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“The minister wanted to know the issues faced by the Indian community members. We’ve raised our concerns. Getting ICA approvals is a major problem. Many UAE residents, including families, have been stranded in India. Many have lost their jobs, as they couldn’t return due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister has said the Indian Embassy will be able to address the issue,” said Yogish Prabhu, president, ISC.
Other requests made by the ISC includes exemption in quarantine for vaccine recipients travelling to India, establishing a non-resident Indian (NRI) welfare cell to assist individuals facing legal problems, opening a shelter home under the Indian Embassy for stranded women, taking strict action against recruitment companies found guilty of exploiting poor workers, giving tax concessions and other benefits for expats who plan to settle down back home, raising the minimum salary for blue-collar workers, creating centres in Abu Dhabi for students to take National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), opening facilities to apply and obtain Aadhar card in Abu Dhabi, and a growing need to create awareness campaigns such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ among the community members.
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VTV Damodaran, president, Gandhi Sahitya Vedi, said: “Many, including lowly-paid workers, have lost their jobs because they couldn’t get ICA approvals. These workers are left in the lurch, as Indian companies either fled overnight or shut their businesses without any prior notice. Indian government should nab these rogue elements in a bid to facilitate the hapless workers’ full and final settlement and their repatriation. I’ve highlighted these problems to the Indian Embassy authorities.”
Krishna Kumar VP, president, Kerala Social Centre, raised the issue of voting rights for NRIs, which under the current Indian law is not allowed, unless an NRI goes back home and votes in person.
“The minister responded to our plea and said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) was considering the proposal,” he said.
Kumar said that plans were afoot to rehabilitate jobless expats returning to India.
“The minister said that the federal government was planning a scheme to rehabilitate those who are returning to India after suffering job losses in the Arabian Gulf countries,” he added.
Muraleedharan, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday night, is on a three-day official visit to the UAE.
He also has community engagements in other emirates such as Dubai and Ajman.