‘Madad’ or Help for Overseas Indians: Just a Click Away

Letter from New Delhi

A plumber in the Gulf is not paid for three months; when he demands his wages, he is sacked by his employer. He has no money to return home and his passport is deposited with his employer. Desperate for help, what does he do? He is advised to contact the nearest Indian mission. But how?

Simple: register on portal1.madad.gov.in on the web or the mobile. ‘Madad’ means help in Hindi. As an overseas Indian, if you ever need help during a personal emergency, go to portal1.madad.gov.in. India’s Ministry of External Affairs set up the Consular Grievances Management System which will take up your case to provide help. Register yourself by providing your basic details like your name, date of birth, mobile number, email and create your password.

Once you are registered online, click ‘Activation’ link to send an email or an SMS. Now you can lodge your grievance by clicking on the “Register Grievances” link. You can tract the status of your grievance by clicking on “Tract Grievance” by providing your registration number. You can get the latest position of your problem and the processing and/or progress made on your problem. Up to now, almost 19,000 grievances have been registered on this site started a year ago. Currently, out of 7,348 grievances registered with this site, 5,382 or over 73 per cent have been resolved. The rest are being processed. This shows accountability and a high degree of success.

Carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, welders and similar skilled workers are literate but at sea with dealing with paperwork. When they want to go abroad to earn more, they approach a recruiting agent. If they fall into the clutches of an unregistered agent, they may get into serious trouble after they land abroad. Blue collar workers are exploited by unregistered recruiting agents in India and by their employers abroad as they don’t know procedures, regulations and laws.

Even before landing, they may have to part with lots of money for obtaining a passport, certification for their skills and an overseas job. On arrival, the employer can takes away their passport. So if a worker lands in problems, he/she has little recourse. Now they have this web site: www.madad.gov.in.

If a worker goes through a Recruitment Agent registered with the Ministry of External Affairs, he will have a smooth ride. Avoid a sub-agent; go to the registered agent directly. How to find a registered agent? Search the web for the nearest registered agent. Check his Registration Certificate before parting with any money and get a receipt.

The ministry checks the background and offices of every registered agent who must pay a hefty registration fee and a bank guarantee of Rs. five million. So he won’t swindle you lest he lose his registration. Check the contract before you leave India and make sure you have a legal employment permit never give your passport to the employer abroad.

The registered agents assess the skills of a worker, check the ITI (Industrial Training Institute) and similar certificates, searches an appropriate job, presents the candidate to the employer, arrange a video conference interview with the employer, obtains a medical certificate, draws up the contract, arranges an air ticket, a visa and ensures all travel documents are in order before takeoff.

Major agents have trade testing centres under their management to ensure that the workers possess the required skills. Well equipped with all the necessary tools and machines, these centres have sophisticated welding machines, cranes, tractors and fabricating machinery, among other specialized equipment to test the competence and skills of workers. All this equipment is essential for specific jobs like sand blasters, spray painters, crane operators, mine workers, pipe fitters, oil rig workers and so on. After all, no employer wants to hire a worker who does not know his job!

So if a maid, a nurse, a carpenter, an electrician or a welder is in a crisis, prompt help is available. What happened to the plumber? He was paid, recovered his passport and flew back home…thanks to madad.gov.in.

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi

*  Published in print edition on 8 April 2016

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