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(Monthly Digest of Official Indian Statements on Middle East)
Visit of M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs to Manama, Bahrain (December 8-10, 2017), December 5, 2017.
Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri. M.J. Akbar is paying an official visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain on 8-10 December 2017 to participate in the 13th Regional Security Summit-Manama Dialogue. He will address the plenary session at the Manama Dialogue organized jointly by the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the Government of Bahrain. During the visit, he will also meet with the Bahraini leadership to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
Bilaterally, India enjoys close and multifaceted ties with Bahrain, underpinned by regular high-level visits and extensive people-to-people contacts. Bahrain is an important partner for India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade exceeding US$ 760 million in 2016-17. Over 400,000 Indian nationals work and contribute to the development of Bahrain. Their positive and well-appreciated contribution in the development of Bahrain has been an important anchor of our excellent bilateral engagement.
This visit will provide a useful opportunity to further cement our mutually beneficial bilateral ties with the Bahrain.
Minister of State Shri M J Akbar’s speech on India’s International Partnerships at Manama Dialogue 2017, Bahrain, December 9, 2017
Dr. John Chipman,
My colleague from Oman,
A very distinguished gathering here,
Even more distinguished by the presence of a legendary name in International Affairs sitting in the front row,
May I begin by thanking John [Chipman] for the invitation to the Manama Dialogue; but most of all by thanking His Majesty, the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister for the extremely warm and generous hospitality and for maintaining a conversation, a symposium, a dialogue, call it what you will, which has now acquired a very singular presence in international efforts to try and understand this increasingly complex world and try and find options - I am not so optimistic to call them solutions - through the process of dialogue. This is, as John said just now, the 13th dialogue, so it must be our lucky year.
It is traditional to describe the Middle East as a part of India’s extended neighbourhood. The term ‘extended’ is interesting in itself, because implicit in the term is that there is also the concept of a ‘tended’ neighbourhood. Given the tendencies that we see in many neighbourhoods, maybe the time has come to examine what precisely we mean when we use the term "neighbour.”
We almost always measure a neighbour through distance. Is that sufficient anymore? I would suggest that we extend the definition of neighbour with the use of the term "reach.”
Distance is clearly not enough. Can we reach our neighbour or not? That is probably more relevant than distance. There are countries which are geographically very close to each other but never reach each other. Or if they do reach each other, it is really along the ice-floor of a freeze.
Distance and reach require re-interpretation. It often strikes me that distance from Delhi to Dubai is three flying hours, and the distance from Dubai to Cairo is also three flying hours, but Cairo is seen as a neighbour (of UAE) and Delhi is seen in terms of distance.
There are hundreds of flights now, many hundreds, between India and the Gulf region, every week. On the other hand, I can’t count even on the fingers of one hand the number of flights that we might have with one particular neighbour. So what then is the meaning of being a neighbour?
A neighbour must be defined by more than physical proximity; a neighbour also has to be someone who shares the same or similar values because without sharing values the neighbourhood doesn’t function in a positive mode; nor will we find either the commonality of views that encourages cooperation, or indeed the will to ensure course correction when so required.
An additional point on the same subject. Human beings have become land animals. We are so trapped by the presence of land in almost everything, whether it is industry, agriculture, culture, demographics, living, that we quite forget that there is more than one map of the world.
India has a land map which is familiar. When you think of India you think of an inverted triangle. But a neighbourhood need no longer be defined by only a land map. India, like so many other countries, also has a sea map, and the sea map now is increasingly becoming a very important fact in our definition of who is a nation to engage with and who not. The sea map of India extends from waters not far from here [Manama] right up to the Malacca Straits.
The theme of our foreign policy as defined by our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is "Shared values, Common destiny.” What are the values that we talk about? The most important of these values in our view is nationalism and pluralism.
What is the principal objective that we all aspire to when we talk about a common destiny in the 21st century? There are always many aspirations, many objectives that nations will have but if you have to pinpoint one thing that we all have or should have in common, it is a desire for prosperity. Prosperity by itself is insufficient, it has to be shared prosperity. When we talk of shared prosperity we do not merely mean shared prosperity between nations, we have to have shared prosperity even within our individual countries.
One of the more pernicious theories of economic policy, at least in my personal view, is the Trickle Down Theory. What does this Trickle Down Theory, advertised so often, mean? It really means that those who have swimming pools will get a waterfall and those who are dying of thirst will get a trickle. That is not sustainable.
What is the principal threat to the common objective of prosperity? The most menacing threat is conflict. And the worst manifestation of conflict now is terrorism.
Everyone in this distinguished audience is well aware that since 1996 the United Nations has been trying to search for a definition for terrorism. Soon we will be celebrating the 21st anniversary of yet another failure, and I often wonder: how do you confront an enemy you can’t define? But be that as it may, through our different experiences we also know that when we see terrorism we can recognize it.
The question that I would like to pose here is, do terrorists have serious political objectives or is terrorism merely a desire for chaos for the sake of chaos? Terrorists do have very serious political objectives. Their first objective is the destruction of the nation state.
The nation state, as it has evolved, is a comparatively modern phenomenon.
The last hundred years have seen four world wars. The inter-linkage between the first two are well known. The Second World War was quickly followed by the Cold War. The Cold War may have been very cold in Europe but it was very very hot in South East Asia, in Latin America and in Africa as well. If we assume that the Third World War ended in Afghanistan, then the Fourth World War, which is the war against terrorism, began precisely where the Third World War ended. Four great empires disappeared at the end of World War I, and from their ashes rose the modern nation state. The process accelerated with the demise of colonization after the Second World War and India’s victory against British rule.
The nation state is now the principal building block of the architecture of stability across the world. It is no longer shaped by the will of elites, of dynasts and their armies, but by something else, which is the will of the people.
Terrorists seek to replace the nation state with faith based space. This is what we have seen with Daesh, this is what we have seen with Boko-Haram. The essential ideology of terrorism is faith supremacy. The value system we seek to sustain is based on pluralism, which means faith equality rather than faith supremacy.
What makes terrorism an existential problem is the desire of terrorists to destroy the pluralism and harmony of societies that have achieved this with great effort. Their weapon is the poison of fear, fear induced through arbitrary, random violence. The violence may be random, and arbitrary, but the purpose is not. And we can see the impact that this is having on societies and political systems everywhere.
When we talk of partnership are we only talking about government to government partnership or are we also talking about people to people partnership? One of the finest examples of people to people partnership is the fraternity that has been created between India and the Gulf.
Nine million or perhaps more Indians today are working in the Gulf region, and working here in peace. Compare this to turbulence all across Europe, caused by fears of immigration, fears of jobs being lost. True, all parallels are not exact, but we must celebrate something that is often discounted in this cynical world, which is the power of the culture of harmony, the power of shared philosophy, the power of a shared humanitarian approach.
Let me illustrate what we mean when we talk of a people-centric or humanitarian approach to foreign policy. Let us look at Yemen. We all know that there are efforts being made by Side X or Side Y to create a certain kind of government, but while we are engaged in this political conflict we cannot forgot that Yemen is also something more than an exercise in government formation. There are 20 million human beings there in urgent need of food, shelter and medicine; of these 11 million are children, 400,000 or maybe half a million of whom are facing severe malnutrition. How much attention are we actually paying to this? Remember this fact before your next dinner. Once we change the perspective, we find that there is far more material for building bridges than there is for creating a conflict and creating disharmony.
The elimination of terrorism is the biggest service to human rights. If life is the first and most fundamental of the human rights, then those who seek to destroy lives are a scourge.
Pluralism exists in almost every philosophy. I, as a Muslim, am very proud to say that the finest example of pluralism was in the Medina model of the Holy Prophet where people of all communities lived with one another, lived alongside each other, where there were places of worship for all communities. If we do not reassert our commitment to pluralism, then we will have lost the battle not just on the battlefield, we will have lost the battle somewhere much more important: in the mind.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nations today are no longer big and small. Nations are sovereign, nations are equal. All nations have the same rights and indeed the same obligations. What we do have is difference in capacities. What we need to do is to find ways and means of sharing capacities in order to build shared and common prosperity.
India recognizes and stands by the Gulf region in its efforts to counter emerging security threats. However, while engaging with the Gulf countries, India’s approach has remained and will remain non-intrusive, non-judgmental and non-prescriptive. We do not take sides in intra-regional disputes. Despite the current regional flux we have progressively structured closer ties with all countries in the region towards safe-guarding mutual benefits and political, trade and investment, energy, diaspora and security interests and what we do continue to seek is partnership and cooperation in the struggle and in the fight against international terrorism and of course in by products of crime like maritime piracy.
Specifically, in forging security partnerships with the countries of the Gulf, various agreements that provide the framework on security cooperation have either been signed or under discussion such as the Extradition Treaty, Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance, on Security Cooperation, on Combating Crime. For example the agreement on security cooperation with UAE signed in 2011 provides for cooperation to combat terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, weapon smuggling, money laundering, economic crimes and cybercrimes. And cyber-crimes are really looming ahead of us.
The state visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in January 2017 to Delhi provided further impetus in the area of defines cooperation wherein the two sides renewed their commitment to strengthening the existing cooperation in training, joint-exercises and participation in defines exhibitions.
With Saudi Arabia there is increasing focus on defines cooperation, the foundation for which was laid in Delhi Declaration in 2006 and further strengthened during our Prime Minister’s visit. An MoU on defines cooperation was also signed by the then Crown Prince and Defence Minister Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Saud with India on February 2014.
Oman is one of our closest defines partners in the region.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our focus here is on the Middle East. The question we really need to ask is: What precisely is the Middle East in the middle of? Is it truly in the middle of the East? It doesn’t seem so, each time I look at the map. In fact if you want to find the true middle of Asia you’ll have to come to my country, India. India is the middle of the East.
We all know that Asia is a Greek concept which kept adding geography to its term, with each exploration by Europe.
Today, Asia has become a different kind of space. If you stand in Delhi and look West, and I say this with regret, you’ll find increasing space being occupied by great turbulence. But if you stand in India and look East you’ll find nations with completely different demographics, completely different cultures, in fact there are more Muslims living between India and Indonesia than living between India and Morocco, you find people of all faiths, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and indeed you find the largest collection of atheists also here, in China. But they have one thing in common and that is: they all believe that partnership is possible, cooperation is possible, despite differences, in the search for prosperity.
We believe that the basic impetus of diplomacy is to prevent differences from becoming disputes and disputes from becoming conflicts. This is the spirit which we hope will engage us all as we search for and find, I hope, common values and a common destiny.
Visit of External Affairs Minister to Iran, New Delhi, December 2, 2017
External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited Iran on December 2, 2017 on her return journey from SCO Summit at Sochi and met H.E. Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hosted a luncheon meeting wherein both sides discussed the various aspects of India-Iran relations and ways to strengthen it.
Both sides positively reviewed the initiatives undertaken since the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Iran in May 2016 including cooperation in Chabahar Port which will be inaugurated by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H.E. Mr. Hassan Rouhani tomorrow at presence of Ministers from India, Afghanistan and the region.
Both Ministers also exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest.
Source: Embassy of India, Tehran
Inauguration ceremony of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar, Iran, New Delhi, December 3, 2017
Minister of State (Shipping) Shri Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration of the Phase 1 of the Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar, Iran on 3 December 2017.
H.E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran presided over the inauguration ceremony which was attended by Ministers, Ambassadors and senior officials primarily from countries of the region.
During his two day visit on 2-3 December 2017, Shri Radhakrishnan represented India in the 2nd meeting of the India-Iran-Afghanistan Ministerial-level Trilateral Meeting on Chabahar Port Development and involving the respective Ministers of Iran and Afghanistan. The inaugural Trilateral meeting was held in September 2016 in New Delhi.
In the Trilateral meeting with Iranian Transport Minister Dr. Abbas Akhoundi and the Afghanistan Trade and Commerce Minister Mr. Humayoon Rasaw, the three sides reviewed and positively assessed the progress in the development of Chabahar Port and reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalize the Port at the earliest that would contribute to bilateral and regional trade and economic development and also provide alternate access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets. The three sides also commended the recent joint efforts which led to the transit of first tranche of 110000 tonnes of wheat from India to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port. The Ministers agreed to further intensify efforts on issues concerning regional connectivity and focusing on Chabahar Port development under the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement at the Trilateral Meeting. MoS (Shipping) expressed his positive appreciation to the Iranian side on the recent steps taken towards ratification by the Majlis of Iran on the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement signed in May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan. The completion of the internal procedures on the ratification process by Iran is expected to lead to full and early operationalization of the Transit and Trade arrangement between the three countries though the Chabahar Port. It is expected that a trilateral coordination meeting of senior officials will be convened at the earliest.
Source: Embassy of India, Tehran
Joint Statement of Afghanistan, India and Iran Trilateral Meeting on Implementation of Chabahar Agreement, Tehran, December 3, 2017.
The 2nd Ministerial level trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, India and Iran to discuss the implementation of Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was held at Chabahar, Iran on 3 December 2017. The Minister of Roads and Urban Development of the Islamic Republic of Iran H.E Dr. Abbas Ahmed Akhoundi, Minister of Commerce and Industries of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.E. Mr. Humayoon Rasaw and the Minister of State for Shipping of the Republic of India H.E. Mr. P Radhakrishnan led the respective delegations.
The three Ministers welcomed the inauguration of Phase-1 of the Chabahar Port by the President of Iran earlier in the day.
The Ministers recalled the decisions taken at the last trilateral meeting that was held in New Delhi in September 2016, and expressed satisfaction on the completion of the ratification procedures of the Trilateral Agreement by Afghanistan and India. They welcomed the steps taken by Iranian Majlis to complete the ratification process.
The Ministers discussed the next steps for full implementation of the Agreement and moving towards its operationalization. Towards this endeavour, it was decided to finalize protocols related to transport and transit, ports, customs procedures and consular affairs. It was also decided to convene an Expert level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest.
Reiterating the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional economic connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective, the Ministers commended the joint efforts of the three countries in the recent successful transit of wheat from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar. It was also reiterated to organize a connectivity event involving all stakeholders at Chabahar at the earliest so as to increase awareness about the new opportunities offered by Chabahar Port.
The Ministers agreed that an integrated development of connectivity infrastructure including Ports, Road and Rail networks would open up greater opportunities for regional market access and contribute towards the economic integration and benefit of the three countries and the region.
Source: Embassy of India, Tehran
QUESTION NO.114 RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM AS CAPITAL OF ISRAEL BY JERUSALEM, Rajya Sabha, December 28, 2017
SHRI D. RAJA:
Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether Government’s attention has been drawn to the statement of US President Donald Trump, officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and
(b) if so, the details thereof and Government’s reaction thereto?
THE MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
(SHRIMATI SUSHMA SWARAJ)
(a) & (b) A Statement is laid on the table of the House.
STATEMENT REFERRED TO IN REPLY TO PARTS (a) & (b) OF THE RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO. 114 REGARDING "RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM AS CAPITAL OF ISRAEL BY JERUSALEM” FOR ANSWER ON 28.12.2017
(b) On 6 December 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the US is officially recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. He also stated that the US will begin preparation to move their Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Government has said that:
"India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests and not determined by any third country”.
Visit of Foreign Minister of Jordan to India (27-28 December, 2017), New Delhi, December 27, 2017.
H. E. Mr. Ayman Safadi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will be visiting India from 27-28 December, 2017. This would be the first visit by H. E. Mr. Ayman Safadi to India. During the visit, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, H. E. Mr. Ayman Safadi will be holding bilateral discussions with External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj. A meeting with Minister of Commerce Shri Suresh Prabhu is also scheduled. Jordanian Foreign Minister will be delivering a lecture at ICWA on 28 December, 2017.
We share close and friendly bilateral ties with Jordan. This year Chief of Royal Court Dr. Fayez Tarawnehy visited India in March 2017 which was followed by a visit of Jordan Trade and Industry Minister for 10th Session of India-Jordan Joint Trade and Economic Committee (JTEC) took place in India in July 2017. The visit of Jordanian Foreign Minister will add momentum to our engagements.
Notification by MEA on Reg. Travel by Indian Nationals to Yemen, New Delhi, December 26, 2017
S.O. 3223(E).––Whereas, the security situation in Yemen continues to be fragile with armed hostilities continuing in parts of the country and Yemen remains vulnerable from the security point of view;
And whereas, in view of the precarious security situation in Yemen, the Government of India issued various travel Advisories wherein Indian nationals have been strongly advised to avoid travelling to that country under any circumstances, by any mode of travel, including air, land or sea for any purpose till further notice;
And whereas, despite the existing travel advisories, some Indian nationals have continued to travel to Yemen;
And whereas, section 19 of the Passports Act, 1967 (15 of 1967) empowers the Central Government to issue a notification to make invalid the Passports and travel documents for travel to certain countries; and clause (d) of said section provides that upon the issue of the notification by the Central Government that a foreign country to which travel must be restricted in the public interest because such travel would seriously impair the conduct of foreign affairs of the Government of India, and a passport or travel document for travel through or visiting such country shall cease to be valid for such travel or visit unless in any case a special endorsement in that behalf is made in the prescribed form by the prescribed authority;
Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (d) of section 19 of the Passports Act, 1967 (15 of 1967), the Central Government, being of the opinion that it is necessary and expedient in the public interest so to do, hereby issues the following directions, namely:––
(i) the passport or travel document issued by the Central Government is invalid for the travel of holder to Yemen as the travel of the holder to Yemen would seriously impair the conduct of foreign affairs of the Government of India;
(ii) any Indian national who travels to Yemen in violation of this notification, shall be liable for action under section 12 of the said Passports Act, 1967 and the passport shall be liable for impounding or revocation, as the case may be, under sub-section (3) of section 10 of the said Act;
(iii) violation of the directions issued by this notification by any holder shall be liable for refusal of passport under section 6 of the said Act for a period of seven years from the date of revocation of such passport;
(iv) any Recruiting Agent or a Company sending Indian nationals to Yemen shall be individually or collectively held responsible, and all such Agents or Company, including all its Directors, shall personally be liable to be prosecuted under the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, if the Indian nationals so sent are killed or kidnapped or come to any harm, while travelling to Yemen;
(v) in addition to above, criminal proceedings also may be initiated against owners of the foreign ships carrying Indian nationals to Yemen and visas shall be denied to them for any future travel to India.
2. The aforesaid directions are not applicable to the officials of the Government of India posted in the Indian Embassy in Sana by the Ministry of External Affairs and for the officials of the Government of India or any State Government travelling to Yemen for attending of their official duties.
3. The aforesaid directions may also be relaxed by the Central Government for specific and essential reasons of travel, for which permission for a limited time period may be granted by the Central Government at the express request of the applicant who would, nevertheless, travel at his or her own personal risk without any liability to the Government of India or any State Government concerned and any such request for exemption may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. That the aforesaid directions may be read in conjunction with any fresh Travel Advisory separately and simultaneously issued by the Indian Embassy in Sana for travel to Yemen.
Source: Embassy of India, Amman
Aadhaar number and NRI, Kuwait, December 4, 2017.
In the recent past several Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCIs) have been asked to submit or link their Aadhaar number to avail the services/benefits/schemes such as an operation of bank account, etc.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has clarified that:
(i) Aadhaar number as an identity document may be sought only from the ‘residents’ of India. Section 2(v) of the Aadhaar Act defines ‘resident’ as an individual who has resided in India for a period of one hundred and eighty-two days or more.
(ii) Most of the NRIs/PIOs/OCIs may not be eligible for Aadhaar enrolment as per Aadhaar Act, 2016.
(iii) Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, inter-alia, provides that “if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of subsidy, benefits or service”.
An illustrative list of services that are directly or indirectly connected with NRIs and/or NRI Pensioners is below:
1)Linking PAN and Bank Accounts with Aadhaar
2)Linking Service Pension with Aadhaar
3)Aadhaar based e-KYC
4)Applying for new mobile phone connections in India
5)Maintaining the existing NRE 86 NRO bank accounts in India
6)Registering with Jeevan Pramaan/ Digital Life Certificate for pension
7)Registering with Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat (for retired Defence personnel)
8)Maintaining Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)
9)Various Scholarships introduced for children of Ex-Servicemen
10)Applying for Defence Canteen Smart Card
11)Applying for LPG connection
12)Registering with e-District service for obtaining various services from State Governments
13)Issuance of fresh or renewal of driving license
14)Appearing by students in different entrance examinations in India
15)Issuance of certificates by Universities/Boards to students under different public examinations
16)Applying for registration of property, etc.
Source: Embassy of India, Kuwait
Kuwait offers scholarship to Indian student at Kuwait University, Kuwait, December 7, 2017
Ministry of Higher Education, Government of Kuwait has offered one scholarship to an Indian student at Kuwait University for the Second academic session of the scholastic year 2017-18.
Students who have passed their 12th Grade Board Examinations and are interested in availing this offer of scholarship programme may obtain application form from Kuwait University and submit the completed application to the Education Wing of the Embassy of India latest by 28th December 2017. In case of more than one application, the student with the highest marks obtained in 12th Grade will be recommended by the Embassy to the concerned Kuwaiti authorities. The academic eligibility test of the scholarship student will be held by the Kuwait University on Monday, 29 January 2018.
Source: Embassy of India, Kuwait
K. Jeeva Sagar appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the State of Kuwait, New Delhi, December 7, 2017.
Shri K. Jeeva Sagar (IFS: 1991), presently Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the State of Kuwait.
He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.
Indian Embassy invites participation from Oman in International Trade Show ‘INDUS FOOD’, Muscat, December 4, 2017
Trade has been a key facet of historical ties between India and Oman, which span over several millennia. There is a buoyant trade between India and Oman, with bilateral trade reaching US$ 4 billion during April 2016- March 2017. Investment flows, both ways, have been robust, as reflected in numerous joint ventures, established both in India and Oman.
Governments of both India and Oman have accorded a high priority to promoting bilateral trade and mutual investments, which constitute key pillars of the strategic partnership between the two countries. Embassy of India, Muscat, has been encouraging Indian and Omani companies to engage more with one another and benefit from tremendous opportunities available for trade and mutual investments in two countries, specially in priority sectors such as infrastructure, logistics, oil & gas, minerals and mining, manufacturing, engineering, power, IT, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, agriculture, etc.
As a part of its endeavours to enhance contacts between business communities of India and Oman, the Embassy has been organizing various Business-to-Business (B2B) Meetings, Road shows, Seminars, etc. It has also been facilitating participation of Omani companies in trade Exhibitions in India as well as participation of Indian companies in trade Exhibitions in Oman.
‘INDUS FOOD’, India’s first ever mega global food and beverage (F&B) trade Show, will be held in Greater Noida, India, from 18th-19th January 2018. INDUS FOOD is being organized by Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) with support of Department of Commerce, Government of India, with the objective to make India a global trading hub for food and beverages. Representatives from TPCI will visit Muscat from 20-21 December 2017 to promote ‘INDUS FOOD’ and encourage participation from Oman. The Embassy has planned to facilitate interaction between TPCI and Omani businesspersons and companies from F&B trade and retail sectors through a Road show which will be held on 21 December 2017, from 1800 hours, at the premises of the Embassy (Diplomatic Area, Al-Khuwair, Muscat).
‘INDUS FOOD’ will bring together over 400 selected high quality Indian suppliers of food products, under 12 curated categories, including consumer food, dairy products, spices, oil and oil seeds, organic and medicinal plants, fruits and vegetables, ingredients, beverages etc., and over 500 international buyers, under one roof to facilitate business transactions for mutual benefits. INDUS FOOD is set to emerge as a mega F & B industry trade show of the world, where global importers including hotel chains, supermarket chains, airline caterers, etc., will develop synergies and network with Indian suppliers. INDUS FOOD is supported by Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and various other Export Promotion Councils of India.
Traditionally, India has been an important source for meeting food and beverages requirements for Oman. India, which is one of the largest producers of agro and food products of the world, continues its legacy of being the food bowl of the world currently valued at a $258 billion. India is a key exporter of rice, wheat, milk, castor seed, sesame, mango, banana, chickpeas, marine products and other commodities like tea, coffee, spices, etc. The Embassy would like to encourage Omani businesspersons and companies from F&B trade and retail sectors to participate in INDUS FOOD.
Source: Embassy of India, Muscat
Indian Minister of State (IC) for Culture, Dr. Mahesh Sharma concludes his Successful visit to Oman, Muscat, December 13, 2017.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture, who is also Minister of State in Ministry of Climate Change, Forest and Environment, led the Indian Delegation to the Second UN World Tourism Organization / UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture, with focus on sustainable development, which was held in Muscat, Capital city of Oman, during 11-12 December 2017.
2. Speaking during the Ministerial Dialogue on “Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development”, Dr. Mahesh Sharma highlighted India’s approach to sustainable development, while preserving the nature and India’s cultural heritage. The Conference had also on its Agenda themes such as ‘culture and tourism as a factor of peace and prosperity’; ‘tourism development and protection of cultural heritage’; ‘culture and tourism’ in urban development and creativity; and ‘exploring cultural landscapes in tourism’. The Conference also finalized the 2030 Agenda.
3. During his visit to Muscat, Dr. Mahesh Sharma also held bilateral discussions on cooperation between India and Oman in fields of culture and tourism. He met H.E. Ahmed bin Nasser bin Hamad al-Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism of Oman, and discussed cooperation in field of tourism, including early conclusion of a MoU on Cooperation in Tourism between India and Oman. There is a huge potential for expanding tourism exchanges between the two countries. People of Oman, due to their familiarity with India, visit India, including for medical treatment.
4. Dr. Mahesh Sharma also met with H.H. Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture of Oman, and discussed with him the ways for expanding cultural exchanges between the two countries. He also had a brief interaction with H.H. Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for Council of Ministers of Oman, with focus on expanding the strategic partnership between the two countries. On the side-lines of the Conference, Dr. Mahesh Sharma held a bilateral meeting with Minister for Culture and Tourism of Turkey, wherein the two sides agreed to institute a Joint Committee to explore areas for mutual cooperation in fields of culture and tourism.
5. There is a large Indian community in Oman, numbering around 0.8 million. Reflecting the commitment of the Government of India to promote welfare of Indian communities abroad, Dr. Mahesh Sharma addressed a gathering of Indian community at the Reception hosted on 12th December at the Embassy in his honour by Shri Indra Mani Pandey, Ambassador of India to the Sultanate of Oman, and invited them to utilize the opportunities offered by the fast growing economy of India for investments and participate whole heartedly in flagship projects of the Government like ‘make in India’, clean India, digital India, skill India. He also invited the community to join the campaign for building a New India by 2022, launched by Honourable PM. The community raised with some issues to be addressed by the Government of India.
Source: Embassy of India, Muscat
India’s Humanitarian Assistance to Republic of Yemen, New Delhi, December 27, 2017
The Government of India is providing medical assistance worth about US$ one million to Republic of Yemen in response to a request from the Yemeni government.
In a token handing over ceremony held on 27 December in New Delhi, Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri M.J. Akbar presented a box of cholera medicines to Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen H.E. Mr. Abdulmalik Abdullah Al-Eryani.
As a part of its commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemen, India has been a member of the ‘Friends of Yemen’ Group. India has earlier extended medical assistance to Yemen in April 2015. Additionally, India provided food assistance in the form of rice and wheat, each worth of US$ 2 million in August 2012 and March 2013 respectively.
Question No. 662: Trafficking Of Women Victims in Gulf Countries, Rajya Sabha, December 21, 2017
K. K. RAGESH:
Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether the Government is aware of the reports that the women, victims of human trafficking are still trapped in some of the Gulf countries; and
(b) if so, whether the Government is taking any steps for their release?
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
[GEN. (DR) V. K. SINGH (RETD)]
(a) Yes. Occasionally, reports indicate that some Indian women seek Overseas Employment, particularly in Gulf countries, without obtaining Emigration Clearance (EC), as per provisions of Emigration Act, 1983. Such women not only travel illegally for Overseas Employment, but become vulnerable to various employment related problems. As and when Indian Missions/Posts receive such complaints from women workers in distress, the Missions take immediate action to redress their grievances, with the foreign Employers, Labour Department/ Local Government Authorities.
(b) The Government has already put in place the following measures to safeguard and regulate emigration of Indian women workers, holding ECR passports, for overseas employment in ECR countries including Gulf countries.
(i) All women emigrants (except Nurses) emigrating on ECR passports to ECR countries irrespective of nature/ category of employment must be above the age of 30 years.
(ii) Since August, 2016, emigration clearance of all female workers having ECR passports, for overseas employment in 18 ECR countries have been made mandatory through six State-run recruiting agencies only. Those are NORKA Roots and Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC) of Kerala, Overseas Manpower Corporation Ltd. (OMCL) of Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh Financial Corporation (UPFC) of Uttar Pradesh, Overseas Manpower Company Andhra Pradesh Limited (OMCAP) of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Overseas Manpower Company Limited (TOMCOM) of Telangana.
(iii) Every foreign Employer desirous of directly recruiting a female ECR worker is required to deposit a Bank Guarantee equivalent to US $2500 in the respective Indian Mission.
(iv) Embassy attestation has been made mandatory in respect of direct recruitment of all ECR passport holder women workers in respect of all ECR countries.
(v) With effect from June 2015, registration of foreign employers in the e-migrate system has been made mandatory.
(vi) Shelter Homes for distressed Indian nationals including women workers have been set up in Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
(vii) Funds earmarked from Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) for repatriation of distressed workers including female workers
(viii) The multi-lingual 24X7 Help Lines of Overseas Workers Resource Centres in New Delhi provides information and guidance on all matters and problems pertaining to overseas employment of Indian nationals.
(ix) Indian Workers Resource Centres (IWRC) have also been set up which provide guidance and counselling on such matters pertaining to overseas Indian workers. These centres are already functional in Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Sharjah and Kuala Lumpur.
Question No. 1134: Problems Faced By Indians in Gulf Countries, Rajya Sabha, December 28, 2017
SHRI V. VIJAYASAI REDDY:
Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether Ministry is aware of problems being faced by Indians in Gulf countries, particularly in the last three years;
(b) whether Ministry is also aware that of about 10 lakh Indians working in countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait Qatar etc. more than 2 lakh are from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States;
(c) how Ministry is helping the Indians working in various Gulf countries in view of their pathetic living conditions; and
(d) the reasons Government is not pursuing an agreement with Gulf countries so that no Passport or Visa of any Indian workers should be taken by the employer?
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
[GEN. (DR) V. K. SINGH (RETD)]
(a) Indian Missions/Posts in the Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries, mostly in the Middle East, from time to time report about complaints received from Indian workers, regarding non-payment of salaries and denial of legitimate labour rights and benefits such as non-issuance/renewal of residence permits, non-payment/grant of overtime allowance, weekly holidays, longer working hours, refusal to grant exit/re–entry permits for visit to India, refusal to allow the worker on final exit visa after completion of their contracts and non-provision of medical and insurance facilities etc. Incidents of confinement, abandoning of housemaids by their sponsors have also been reported.
(b) The Government maintains the data in respect of Emigration Check Required (ECR) passport holders, travelling legally to any of the 18 ECR countries for overseas employment. The total number of Indian workers emigrating to six gulf countries during the last three years was around 17.86 lakh and the total number of workers from the State of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the same period was around 2.00 lakh.
(c) Immediately on receipt of such complaints, the same are addressed by the Indian Missions by taking them up with the concerned local government authorities for immediate resolution. The Government has taken several steps to safeguard the interests of Indian emigrants to the Gulf countries, these are:
(i) The on-line MADAD portal enables the emigrant workers and their family members to register their consular grievances on-line and track their redressal.
(ii) Grievances related to Overseas Employment in notified Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries including gulf countries, can also be logged in directly by emigrants/relatives or through the Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) on eMigrate portal. These grievances are settled by respective jurisdictional Protectors of Emigrants (PoEs) as per laid down procedures.
(iii) Missions in Gulf countries also conduct Open Houses on a regular basis where workers can seek redressal of their grievances.
(iv) A multi-lingual 24X7 Helpline of Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) in New Delhi provides information, guidance and grievance redressal on all issues and problems pertaining to overseas employment of Indian nationals.
(v) Missions in Gulf countries have also established 24x7 helplines and Toll Free help lines for the benefit of Indian workers to seek help.
(vi) An Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) has been set up at Dubai and four more IWRCs have been approved in Sharjah (UAE), Riyadh and Jeddah (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), to provide guidance and counselling on all matters pertaining to overseas Indian workers.
(vii) Migrant Resource Centres have also been setup in Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Lucknow to assist emigrants or their relatives to redress their problems/complaints regarding overseas employment.
(viii) The Missions utilize the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) to provide assistance to overseas Indian nationals in times of distress.
(ix) Suitable shelter homes have been temporarily set up to house distressed Indian nationals has been setup in Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Malaysia.
(x) Labour and Manpower Cooperation MoUs/Agreements are already in place with the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that provide the institutional framework to comprehensively discuss and review labour related issues.
(d) In accordance with the Labour and Manpower Cooperation/Agreement, Joint Working Group (JWG) meetings are held on regular basis to discuss various labour related issues including the issue of taking away of passport. Most of the GCC countries already have laws, which prohibit employers from taking away the passport from their employees.
Question No. 1142: Crime Against Indians Living in Gulf Countries, Rajya Sabha, December 28, 2017
SHRIMATI THOTA SEETHARAMA LAKSHMI:
Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether there have been reports of mistreatment and crime against Indians living in the Gulf countries and if so, the details thereof;
(b) the reaction of Government thereto; and
(c) the details of steps Government has taken to address the concerns of crime against Indians in these countries?
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
[GEN. (DR) V. K. SINGH (RETD)]
(a) Indian Missions and Posts in Gulf countries have received complaints from Indians both male and female workers in Gulf countries regarding mistreatment. A majority of these pertain to labour disputes (non-payment or delay in payment of salaries and other benefits such as medical and insurance, refusal of leave or exit/re-entry permits for visits to India, denial to arrange the final exit visas to the worker for return to India after completion of the contract, etc.) and maltreatment on the part of the employers. Most of the cases pertain to labourers, who do not have proper employment contract, and have migrated in violation of Government norms for recruitment of Emigration Check Requirement (ECR) workers from India. In some cases, female workers are taken by unauthorized Indian Recruiting Agents on a Tourist visa to a third country and then are sent to Gulf countries on employment visa to bypass Government’s safeguards put in place for protection of female workers. The Indian Missions/Posts in Gulf countries, in addition, receive complaints about the cheating done by the Indian recruiting agents, who send the workers (both female & male) using illegal means. Missions have reported that our nationals are not object of targeted crimes.
(b) & (c) The safety, security and well-being of Indians abroad is among the top priorities for the Government of India. Our Missions and Posts abroad remain vigilant and closely monitor any incident of attack/complaints of mistreatment against Indians. Such incidents are immediately taken up with the concerned authorities for taking action, as appropriate, to ensure that the cases are properly investigated and guilty punished.
The Government has strengthened its online mechanism for addressing the grievances of all overseas Indians. In this connection, Ministry has launched an online Consular Services Management System, called ‘Madad Portal’ since February 2015 in order to provide consular assistance expeditiously to Indian nationals who are in distress in foreign countries. The complaints are monitored in the Indian Missions and the Ministry at various levels till their final resolution. Emigration Check Required (ECR) category emigrants or their relatives can log in their grievances relating to overseas employment on the e-Migrate portal or through Overseas Workers’ Resource Centre (OWRC) Helpline. In addition, Indian nationals can contact Indian Missions/Posts for assistance through Missions’ 24x7 emergency phone numbers/helplines which are available on Ministry/Missions’/Posts website, email, by post, SMSs, personal visits/walk-ins, open house meeting, etc. including the social media, such as, Facebook, twitter, etc.
As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy
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