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Address by Secretary (CPV&OIA) at 2021 International Dialogue on Migration, Geneva (15 Oct 2021)

October 15, 2021

Director General Antonio Vitorino
Fellow panelists
Ladies and gentlemen

Namaskar


1. Across my country today the people of India are celebrating one of our biggest festivals, ten days of festivities culminating in Dussehra in the north, Durga Puja in the east and south and Navaratra across most of the country. We extend the greetings and warm wishes of over a billion people to all of you on this joyous occasion. We are celebrating the triumph of good over evil and the revival of the human spirit. We are also celebrating the diversity of our culture and heritage, enriched and preserved by our interactions over ages with other civilizations and communities. In a sense, we are reaping the fruits of our migratory instinct and tradition.

2. Thank you for the invitation to participate in the International Dialogue on Migration. India has a significant footprint in global migration dynamics. Our diaspora, whom we call pravasis or Persons of Indian Origin, number over 31 million, with 18 million of them Non-Resident Indians, and they are present in over 150 countries. Their contributions to the development of the destination countries have been widely acknowledged. In some cases they have adopted the destination country as their new homes and many hold prominent positions in politics, business, academics, S & T, arts and culture. We realize the benefits of an interconnected world and are prepared to play a role in building consensus on migration and mobility as we move ahead in these difficult times.

3. Migration has indeed been in a churn. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it effects more visible. For some time we have seen how economic restructuring, technology change, new industry, use of data and ageing societies affect labour markets. In this transformative era we need to be dynamic in responding to the changing circumstances to provide greater benefit to our peoples. The mainstreaming of migration policy to the development agenda is thus essential.

4. The Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular Migration, reached in Marrakesh, represents an important outcome at the multilateral level. Wider acceptance and application of its concepts will provide positive mimentum to international migration and achievement of SDGs. At the same time GCM has to be mindful of national sovereignty and also be dynamic in responding to new challenges and opportunities.

5. Ever since India obtained full membership of the IOM, we have been involved in various activities. A priority on the global agenda is how to recover from the deep and adverse impacts of Covid-19 on migrants, who have been substantially affected. India recently shared with the IOM Council, a draft proposal on multi-lateral social security arrangements for adoption by the IOM. IOM and the India Centre for Migration entered into a collaborative project on "Strengthening data-informed and migrant-centered migration management frameworks in India”. The project will study (a) best practices with regard to international migration data management to strengthen evidence-based policy making, and (b) explore opportunities for new migration corridors based on sectoral data and trends. The project also aims to provide a gender-sensitive strategy, which is in line with the objectives of the government. This will also be in alignment with the UN Data Strategy and with the objectives of SDGs. The project will facilitate evidence-based approaches for safe, legal, smart and sustainable migration.

6. Besides the multilateral track, India has also joined several consultative processes initiated and supported by IOM such as Colombo Process, Abu Dhabi Dialogues, Budapest Process, etc. India has engaged with EU on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM). CAMM, which serves as a foundation for collaboration between India and the EU Member States has common objectives and recommendations on migration management in four priority areas: (a) organizing regular migration, (b) maximizing the development impact, (c) promoting international protection, and (d) preventing and tackling irregular migration. Additionally, this has led to bilateral agreements with several EU countries to promote migration and mobility.

7. India seeks to align the core aspects of the GCM into her national strategy through multiple initiatives. Legal channels of migration have always been emphasised and the basis is provided by the Emigration Act. We have developed the eMigrate system, for the benefit and welfare of Indian workers going overseas. The platform operates as a single window for registration, renewal and emigration clearance and has an e-locker for the safe keeping of all relevant documents. Through eMigrate, we can assist migrant workers and also take action against agents indulging in unethical recruitment. We have concluded negotiations for integration of e-Migrate with the employment-migration portals of certain GCC countries, to enhance transparency and widen opportunities for workers. The eMigrate portal is now open to Foreign Employers across the world to source talent from India.

8. Skills have emerged as an important vector to promote migrant returns. To ensure ‘safe, orderly, regular migration’ we started the Pre-Departure Orientation Training (PDOT), particularly for migrant workers. PDOT is aligned with our motto "Surakshit Jaaye, Prashikshit Jaaye, Vishwas ke Saath Jaaye” which means "Go Secure, Go Skilled, Go with Assurance”. PDO programs provide soft skills in terms of culture, language, local rules and regulations of the destination country and also the welfare measures provided by the Government through our Embassies abroad. These welfare measures include Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana (PBBY) and the MADAD grievance redressal portal. Further, to tackle irregular migration, smuggling and trafficking, India ratified international conventions to suppress trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

9. On skilling, India has established partnerships with State Governments, industry chambers, corporate sector and foreign entities to set up India International Skill Centres across the country to guide potential emigrants with a focus on skills tests, upskilling, language and pre-departure orientation. Recent labour agreements signed by the Government with countries like Japan, UK, Portugal are part of the newer generation of agreements that emphasize cooperation on skills to leverage our demographic dividend and youthful population to new destinations for labour migration and mobility.

10. In conclusion,

(a) Policy must prioritize migrant returns in alignment with development priorities,

(b) We see continued relevance of greater multilateral and bilateral coordination on migration and mobility issues,

(c) We should provide an enabling environment where workers and professionals can move in safe and legal ways to support the development of destination countries, who may acknowledge the contribution of migrants,

(d) It is crucial to explore additional approaches to streamline the GCM objectives with national priorities on migration issues, and

(e) Rapidly changing scenarios call for dynamic responses.

I have confidence that a collaborative approach for the adoption of a holistic and pragmatic agenda, that builds upon the GCM, which was truly a game changer, can set the stage for a successful International Migration Review Forum. India is ready to engage with the global community for outcomes that bring benefits to all.

Thank you.

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