Indian expat student delegates from the UAE take photos with MA Yusuff Ali during the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at Indore in Indian state Madhya Pradesh on Monday, January 9, 2023. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Prominent Indian business leader and chairman of the UAE-headquartered Lulu Group, MA Yusuff Ali, on Monday called upon the Indian government to set up expat welfare bodies modelled after Kerala’s NORKA (Non-Resident Keralites Affairs) Department in other Indian states.

Ali was speaking at a plenary session entitled ‘Enabling Global Mobility of Indian Workforce – Role of Indian Diaspora’ at the valedictory day of the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention at Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

Also the vice-chairman of Norka-Roots, a public sector undertaking under the NORKA Department, Ali said Kerala’s NORKA also conducts overseas recruitments.

“Labour departments of foreign countries also trust and welcome this move as this is a government body. If this model is followed in the other states, it will be great for those who wish to come to the Gulf countries for employment,” he said.

Ali also urged the chief guest, India’s Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan, to take the initiative in this regard.

Apart from launching several welfare schemes for migrant Keralites, NORKA Roots has signed Memorandum of Understanding with various foreign government entities to ensure smooth and legal overseas recruitment of Keralites. Several measures have also been taken to prevent fake recruitment scams and to support the victims of such scams.

Ali, who was the only representative of the Indian expat leaders from the UAE to speak at PBD, praised the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making a new law that treats NRI (Non-Resident Indian) investment as domestic investment.

Highlighting the significant contribution of the large Indian expat community in the Gulf countries in ensuring the financial stability of their home country, he suggested various measures to boost overseas recruitment of Indians.

Importance of finance management

Ali said his group employs around 31,000 Indians among various other nationalities. “…and they are very honest, dedicated and hardworking. This is our Indian workforce. So we should promote our Indian workforce all over the world.”

During the question-answer session, replying to a question from advocate Ibrahim Khaleel from Dubai, Ali highlighted the need for proper financial management among Indian expat workers. He said that his employees had been asked to support their parents for their food, medical treatment and other expenses. “If their parents are not getting money, I used to cut their salary and send that money to their parents sometimes. If they don’t agree, I myself send money to their families sometimes. As a humanitarian approach, we have to do this sometimes,” he said, to loud applause from the audience.

Expats’ concerns

Advocate YA Rahim, president of Indian Association Sharjah, made use of the opportunity to raise the issues of NRI voting rights and exorbitant airfares. He raised the concerns about the delay in implementing the voting rights for Indian expats and sought the government’s intervention in controlling skyrocketing air ticket rates from the Gulf countries during peak travel seasons.

While minister Pradhan promised to look into the suggestions raised by the panelists, the moderator of the session, Vipul, joint secretary at Ministry of External Affairs, who is also a former Consul General of India in Dubai, said the concerns raised by the expats attending PBD would also be looked into by the government.