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V. Muraleedharan, India's Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, launches the PBSK app at an event at the Indian Consulate in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: V. Muraleedharan, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, who is currently on an official visit to the UAE, on Thursday launched an app to help Indian expatriates in distress here.

He launched the ‘PBSK app’ during an interactive session with Indian community members at the auditorium of the Indian Consulate in Dubai. PBSK stands for ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra’, a help centre for distressed Indian expatriates in the UAE that runs a 24x7 toll free helpline, 800-INDIA or 80046342.

Previously known as Indian Workers’ Resource Centre (IWRC), the help centre is a first of its kind for migrant workers by any country in the world. It receives, registers and monitors grievances and complaints from Indians in distress till they are resolved, with support from the Indian missions in the UAE. The app consolidates various modes of communication with PBSK, enhances engagement with the Indian community and provides updated information at the fingertips of every user.

Free counselling

The Frequently Asked Questions section of the app provides information generally sought by callers. The app also provides the service of verification of job offers done by PBSK to prevent exploitation of jobseekers by fake agents. Operating out of the consulate premises since November 2020, the outsourced centre has also been offering free legal, psychological and financial counselling services since the launch of IWRC in November 2010.

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V. Muraleedharan, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, at the Indian Consulate on Thursday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The walk-in facility began offering its services 365 days a year, ever since the centre was shifted to the mission premises from its previous location at Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai, which workers found difficult to access.

While the app is currently available in English, there are plans to include multiple Indian language options very soon.

“We have started the effort for upskilling of [blue-collar] workers so that they get better opportunities,” the minister said, referring to the first Upskilling and Training Centre for Indian Blue-Collar Workers at Delhi Private School on Wednesday.

Upskilling and training centres

“This [upskilling centre] will not be the one and only effort. We want to replicate this and have more upskilling and training centres. There will be more solutions to support common workers to earn a better living. Today’s app launch is also in the same direction,” he told the community members attending the function.

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“Through the app, a person in need of help can get in touch with the missions, which are their home away from home. I urge the community members to make use of the app and the upskilling centre. It will happen only if all of the representatives of the community take it up so that it [the message] reaches every Indian citizen who is working in the UAE,” he added.