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Fri 9 Jan 2009 07:34 AM

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Smart Card initiative for Gulf-based Indian workers

PM Manmohan Singh announces move, pays tribute to region's workforce.

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has announced a new initiative to help its five million nationals working in the Gulf region.

Launching a new Smart Card for all overseas Indian workers, he paid tribute to the efforts of the Gulf workforce and said the new card would aid more people to emigrate to the region.

He said: "We have launched a comprehensive e-governance project on migration. Under this project, every worker will be issued a Smart Card that will contain all details of the worker, his work contract, his employer, his insurance etc.

"This data will also be available to the Government of India as well as our missions overseas. The objective of this project is to transform emigration process into a simple, transparent, orderly and humane process."

He added: "I would like to say a few words about the five million Indian workers working in the Gulf. I have seen their contributions first-hand when I recently visited Oman and Qatar.

"I was amazed to see their grit, their determination, and how they are contributing magnificiently to processes of wealth creation in these countries."

The cards will be required only of those workers who leave India to work abroad for the first time, not those who already work in the UAE, said Vayalar Ravi, the minister of overseas Indian affairs added.

More than 1.2 million Indians are estimated to work in the UAE, most in the construction industry.

The smart card is one of many initiatives the Indian government has announced in the past year to protect its migrant workforce, especially domestic maids and construction workers.

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