Government of India must issue Advisories for those wishing to work-study abroad

  • Some Indian citizens working abroad are getting caught in difficult situations. The numbers are increasing. To reduce risks, MEA could start issuing work advisories. An online database of those working/studying abroad would help.


Indians have been working in the Middle East and Africa in large numbers for decades. They have become part of the population there. Except for a brief period during the 1990 Iran Iraq War they have never caused anxiety to the government of India.


With opportunities galore, more and more Indians are choosing to work abroad. After all which country can find jobs for a population of 140 crs.


However, in the last few years some Indians working abroad were in the news and stirred emotions. Here are a few examples.


Eight Indian Navy Veterans that a Qatar Court sentenced to death on espionage charges. Without getting into the merits of the order, their arrest and death sentence aroused great emotion in India esp. in social media. It was as if the people of India expected the government to free them any which way. Source


The government eventually got them released. It was seen by Bhakts as a sign of India’s growing international stature and power. What people fail to realize that nothing in geopolitics comes free. What the deal was between the two governments was is beyond the scope of this article.


In 2015, a Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar working with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an educational charity, as its Afghanistan Director was kidnapped.


Whether Father Kumar was doing genuine service or it was a guise to convert only the Afghans know. Again, pressure was brought upon the Central government to get him released. He was eventually and told never to return to Afghanistan. Source


When Indians like Father Kumar venture into violence prone areas as a missionary should they be expecting the government to get them released in case the local government turns hostile. After all, they are not pursing government of India agenda but in this case of the Church.


A third. Nimisha Fathima and her four-year-old daughter had been in jail in Kabul ever since she and 400 others surrendered to Afghan forces in 2019. Her mother Bindu Sampath has now requested the government to help bring them back. According to the mother Nimisha was brainwashed by terrorists in 2017 and made to join ISIS. It is not known if she has returned. Source NDTV


A fourth case is of Indians who went to Cambodia, promised something but made to do cyber frauds on Indians back home. Source


This is not to forget over ten Indian students who have lost their lives in the United States in the first three months of 2024.


In this case the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is trying to get them back.


The last example is that of people from Haryana who are struck in war-torn Russia, they are at the war-front with Ukraine. Source


I am sure that in all cases the government will do its best to protect Indians interest.


The moot point is – should Indians do more checking before taking up jobs in war-torn areas or where high degree of uncertainty exists. Actually, do individuals have the resources to do such checking.


After all, there is a national cost, directly or indirect, for securing a release not to forget stress to MEA and family.


With respect to workers who recently went to Israel and Taiwan, it is a government to government arrangement.  


It would be naïve to expect the government to vet every person going abroad. Here are some suggestions though – 


1. Every Indian citizen going to work outside India (excluding I.T. sector employees and those migrating) for salary or perform any service must voluntarily register basic information on , a site maintained by MEA. This would include students who take up jobs in the country of their study. The data in this portal could be integrated with that of the e-migrate project started in 2015.  


Only basic information and contacts need to be provided. Every Indian who registers will get a unique number. The Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana can be extended to all those who register and not be restricted to 18 Emigration Required Countries.


Running of the site could be outsourced to a technology company just like the Passport Sewa Kendras have been.  


2. MEA to issue country wise work advisories every quarter. These should be available on the above website and shared through social media.


India should be prepared for a diplomatic fall out in case of adverse advisories.


3. For students the study advisory should be based on University town, country wise. Only major towns shall be covered. Past incidents of violence against Indian students should be available on that town page.


4. These advisories should also be available at the Immigration counters of all international airports. Officers should ask those departing if they have read the advisory and ask for the unique registration number referred to in 1 above. If person does not have number he can still travel.


This process will not interfere with current process of Emigration Check Required (ECR) whereby passport holders require Emigration Clearance(EC) when going abroad for employment to the eighteen designated ECR countries. There are 15 Protector of Emigrant Offices across India, the number is being increased. To read more Here


5. MEA should make it clear that its focus would be on Indian working class, students and not religious preachers.


These advisories would help citizens of Nepal and Bangladesh too.


This way MEA could one, provide travel advisory to those who wish to study/work abroad. Two, in case of war or similar situation it would have a ready-made country-town wise list of Indians who need to be evacuated. No surprises! Like few knew there were 20,000 odd Indian students in Ukraine. Three, it might be a natural way of discouraging those Indians who wish to work in another country illegally.


With a population of 140 crores and growing, there is that much any government can do to create jobs and start educational institutions.


It might be better to put a system in place before it is too late. The system could be designed in consultation with stakeholders to make it user-friendly.


I visited the MEA site on April 12, 2024 at 11.06 and found a List of Approved Active Recruiting Agents as on January 4, 2024 (district and state wise) and List of Employers in PAC List as on 4/1/24 and Advisory on overcharging by agents for overseas recruitment, offering fake overseas jobs and illegal recruitment and Overview of work of Overseas Employment & Protector General of Emigrants (OE & PGE) Division (22/3/24) is a very good document. These are useful. It will have greater impact if covered in main stream media and given more publicity. 


However, a lot more can be done some of which is suggested above.


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