Death Of 42 Indians In Kuwait Building Fire Brings Focus On Emigration Bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a review meeting late on Wednesday after around 42 Indians were killed in a devastating fire in Kuwait and announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the dead from the Prime Minister Relief Fund.
Indian Embassy In Kuwait Issues Helpline Number After 40 Indians Killed

Eleven of the deceased are from Kerala, a state known to have a large number of expatriates in the Middle East.

New Delhi: The death of the 42 Indians in the Kuwait building fire is a reminder of the terrible privations migrant workers undergo in their efforts to support their families at home, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said. The Kerala MP urged the government to prepare an updated Emigration Bill to ensure decent conditions of work and security for the migrant workers. "When Indian workers are sent abroad, they must have contractual assurances of decent conditions of life, work, pay and residence before they leave our shores," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a review meeting late on Wednesday after around 42 Indians were killed in a devastating fire in Kuwait and announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the dead from the Prime Minister Relief Fund. Fourty-nine people were killed in the fire at Al-Mangaf building and 42 of them are learnt to be Indians, officials said. Fourteen of the deceased are from Kerala, a state known to have a large number of expatriates in the Middle East.
MoS MEA Kirti Vardhan Singh has been sent to Kuwait to assess the situation. "DNA testing is being carried out to identify the bodies. As soon as the bodies are identified, they would be brought to India," he said at Delhi airport this morning.
Emigration Bill, 2021
The Draft Emigration Bill seeks to amend the Emigration Act, 1983 with a view to address the issues faced by the emigrants pertaining to social security and healthcare. The Bill seeks to prioritise maintaining robust data of all the Indian emigrants for better-informed decisions and fastening their grievance redressal mechanism. The bill also seeks to prevent illegal emigration, irregularity in recruitment procedures and misuse of visa.
The Bill seeks to digitise records of Indian migrants and conduct pre-departure orientation programmes for the workers to make them aware of their rights under the law. It also offers several programmes for the welfare of emigrants including insurance, skill up gradation and training for those aspiring for overseas employment opportunities.
Likewise, it also proposes stronger mechanisms to regulate recruiters and human resource agencies by maintaining and updating lists of blacklisted and fraudulent agencies, providing accreditation, and giving ratings to employers to make the process more transparent and safe.
The bill also envisions penalties for agencies, individual recruiters as well as migrant workers who lack necessary documents to travel to work and settle abroad. In this regard, competent authorities can suspend or cancel passports of violators and impose fines upto Rs 5 lakh. The violators are also "punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years or with fine, which shall not be less than three lakh rupees but which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both," it says.
What Are The Issues Faced By Indian Emigrants Abroad?
The number of Indian migrants overseas has proportionately heightened the number of issues faced by them. Many highly skilled Indians have reported racially motivated attacks in countries like the UK, USA and Canada. Many Indians in tech-based jobs have been exploited with low wages, long working hours and
sometimes lawsuits for quitting the job.
Indian migrants in Gulf countries are particularly vulnerable due to their socio-economic and occupational status. Over years Ministry of External Affairs has received many complaints from emigrants for pending wages, absence of any social support, language barriers, discrimination for being foreign, and poor living conditions.
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