BY DR WILFRED M MESQUITA
The social cost of emigration is one factor which is totally forgotten in any discourse on migration. It is assuming severe dimensions and should form an integral component of the migration management plan.
According to Mr Irudaya Raja, the migration expert from Centre for Development Studies (CDS), the pattern of response received from families back home is “we don’t want our children to become migrants and stay away from their families.” The women left behind, feel the burden of: (i) Added responsibility at home. (ii) Rearing of children single handed. (iii) Social isolation and loneliness.
Migration has enhanced the economic status of family members. The children of migrant workers may be having better food and possessions which their peers do not have. But they feel deprived of love, affection and guidance they need to receive from their parents, more so when both are abroad. This can lead to psychological complications among them.
The stress and agonies of the wives, the plight of the parents who are deprived of love and care and in general the ordeals of their family members back home, are the hidden issues concerning the social costs of migration and the silent sacrifices of non-resident Indians.
The NRI Cell set up in 2006 as a separate entity headed by the Commissioner for NRI Affairs with rank and status of a Cabinet Minister, has been regularly interacting with the overseas Goans on a sustained basis to identify areas of mutual concern, to formulate appropriate policies and programmes for their benefit and to strengthen the emotional bonds by recognising and celebrating their achievements. The Global Goans website www.globalgoans.org.in launched in 2006, provides advisory services, highlights government policies, promotes investment and disseminates vital information to the Goan diaspora across the world. The website is now being revamped.
A state level committee headed by the Commissioner redresses the grievances of non-resident Goans in property matters and other related issues, mostly to the satisfaction of the affected NRG (Non Resident Goan). The Goa Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1968 has been amended so as to protect the property rights of NRIs residing outside India, who are either citizens of India or persons of Indian origin, to enable them to recover possession of their bona fide properties when the same are required for their own occupation or for the occupation of any member of their family.
The Commissioner’s office has also constituted NRG Emergency Repatriation Fund to take care of economically weaker section of Goans who are employed in skilled, semi skilled and unskilled jobs abroad, particularly in Gulf countries, in times of distress, including loss of jobs, accident or sudden illness and untimely death. This department also looks after all other grievances faced by Indian (Goan) workers abroad, in particular problems faced by emigrating Goans because of illegal / fake recruiting agents.
A number of schemes formulated by the government of India, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, have been implemented. These include scheme for skill upgradation and pre-departure orientation programme for emigrant workers aspiring for gainful employment in overseas countries and scholarship scheme for Goan diaspora children intending to pursue higher and technical education in professional and general courses in institutions affiliated to Goa University or Goa Board of Technical Education. The ‘Know Goa Programme’ formulated on the lines of the ‘Know India Programme’ has provided opportunity for Goan diaspora youth who are not Indian nationals to discover their roots in Goa, and share their thoughts, perceptions about the country of their domicile and the country of their origin.
After repeated pleadings, the cases of Goans born abroad before December 19, 1961 (Liberation Day), who faced difficulties in getting Indian citizenship, the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of Goa, by their letter to the Office of Commissioner NRI, dated 1/2/2003 (reference number 26030/13/2012/IC.I) has agreed to grant their applications. The government of India has also agreed to issue Overseas Citizen of India Cards in Mumbai till the time their office of FFRO is ready to issue them from Goa by April 1, 2013.
( to be concluded)
(The writer is the Commissioner for NRI Affairs and former minister, government of Goa) [NT]