Bindu Suresh Chettur
Clockwise from left: Bindu Suresh Chettur, Ajay Petta Karai and K.V. Shamsudheen. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Indian expats in the UAE have welcomed their government’s decision to seek their opinion in drafting a new law that proposes to make the registration of their details mandatory, a previous move for which was deferred recently due to expat protests.

As exclusively reported by Gulf News on Wednesday, the draft Emigration Bill 2019, which aims at ensuring the welfare and protection of emigrants, has proposed “mandatory registration of all categories of Indian nationals proceeding for overseas employment as well as students pursuing higher studies abroad.”

“The provisions regarding mandatory registration by students and Indian nationals working abroad are aimed at assisting them in times of distress and emergency and putting in place an effective emigration management framework,” stated the Indian Ministry of External Affairs which has sought public comments on the Bill.

Indian expats had questioned the legality and arbitrary nature of the previous registration rule, under which passengers could be offloaded if they fail to comply with the rule that was slated to be implemented from January 1.

Expats, who had sought an immediate revision of the previous rule, welcomed the government’s new approach in seeking NRIs’ (non-resident Indians) comments before proclaiming the method of implementation and penalties.

K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman of the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust in Sharjah, who had urged the government to refrain from making policies without taking into consideration the opinion of expatriates, said he was glad that the government is now listening to its people.

“I hope the government will now work towards implementing a system that is easy for all categories of Indians, giving enough time for registration and make sure that the information given by NRIs with good intentions will not be leaked or misused like in the case of Aadhaar.”

He said the government’s promise that the registration is meant for the welfare and protection of NRIs should not be just in papers.

He pointed out that Emirati citizens, who are registered with the government, get a message from the UAE’s foreign ministry with numbers to contact in case of emergencies when they go abroad.

“That is the kind of support we need from India also.”

Lawyer Bindu Suresh Chettur, who had pointed out that the government had not issued any law or clear-cut guidelines and had not taken enough measures to raise awareness for implementing the previous rule, appreciated the government for giving the proposal of mandatory registration through a new law, instead of one of its division’s advisory like in the previous case.

“It is also noteworthy that the government has considered the concerns of the people and will consider their suggestions. Now the government should make sure that the final bill is drafted in such a way that the procedures do not infringe the rights of the people or adversely affect them while in India or abroad.”

She said the database should be a guarantee that the government would provide help even in war-hit countries.

Ajay Petta Karai, a finance controller in an advertising company in Dubai, who had questioned the arbitrary decision to offload violators, said he expects the government to do away with the offloading policy and make the registration procedures easier.

“If they want expats’ details they should allow us to provide them from here itself. But it should not be for unwanted vigilance, taxation or political purposes.”

What Indians want in Emigration Bill 2019:

  • Easy procedure for registration
  • Accessible for all segments of Indians
  • Facility to register from places of residence
  • Enough time frame for registration
  • Confidentiality of the database
  • No unwanted vigilance, misuse of data
  • No offloading policy for violations
  • Provisions to spread awareness about the law