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NRI Grievances Redressal Mechanism in India

Written by: Slahuddin Ahmed - Currently in final year of 5 yrs. LL.B. from The Law School, University of Jammu
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The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was created by the Government of India for developing closer relations with the Indian Diaspora. As a result of this, the new initiatives for the diaspora have not only become feasible but noe they can be easily followed up effectively in quick time.

The Ministry acts as a Relationship Manager, since the relations are to be cultivated. It acts as a Partnership Manager, to build partnerships at the individual, institutional and the civil society levels. It also acts a direct Service Provider in areas like dual citizenship, emigration clearances, etc. Apart from these, it even acts as an indirect Service Provider in areas like Education, Health, Investment, etc.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is headed by Vayalar Ravi, who has the rank of a Cabinet Minister. On the administrative side, a Secretary to the Government of India heads the Ministry.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is the quintessential people's agency, a one-stop address for the overseas Indians. Established in 2004, it is a young, compact, interactive and contemporary Ministry of the Government of India. Driven by a larger mission of development through coalitions sans borders, MOIA seeks to connect the matrices of the Diaspora story. It is therefore the nodal point which overseas Indians, Diaspora associations, trade and industry, lawmakers, think-tanks and opinion builders, key stakeholders of society and governance, and State Governments, turn to for information, partnerships and facilitation for all matter relating to overseas Indians.

In fulfillment of this mandate and with a view to promote and nurture a mutually beneficial and organic relationship between India and its diaspora, the Ministry endeavours to:
Offer customized solutions to address the varied expectations of the diverse overseas Indian community;

Lend a strategic dimension to India's engagement with its diaspora; and

Build a knowledge network and tap the available resources;

The Ministry has also initiated a number of schemes to further strengthen the traditional bonds of affinity the Indian diaspora has with the land of their ancestors.

Presently, the Ministry is organized into three functional divisions and three functional units. Of the three Divisions, two are headed by Joint Secretaries. They are the Diaspora Services Division and the Financial Services Division.

The Protector General of Emigrants (PGoE) heads the Overseas Employment Services Division. The Social Services Unit and the Management Services Unit are staffed with officers of the rank of Deputy Secretary. The Information Services Unit is headed by the Senior Technical Director (NIC).

Grievance Redressal
In case of any grievances during stay in India, NRIs and PIOs can visit the office of the Protector General of Emigrants (PGoE) who is available twice a week i.e. on Tuesday and Friday from 11:30 to 12:30. During this hour, the PGoE can be met without any prior appointment.
Members of the public, prospective and/or registered recruiting agents or their representatives, aggrieved persons or their representatives or prospective emigrants are welcome to attend the Public Hearings.

Address: Protector General of Emigrants (PGE)
Room No. 105 A
Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Marg, New Delhi.

Queries and grievances can also be addressed at indianemigration@nic.in And below him are the Protectors of Emigrants in 8 cities of India.

Offices of Protector of Emigrants
Protector of Emigrants (Delhi) - Jaisalmer House, Canteen Block, New Delhi. Tele. 23382472
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Chennai) - TNHB Ashok Nagar, Shopping Complex (Annexe), Ashok Nagar, Chennai-83
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Triuvananthapuram) - Suganthi, 24/846(1), Thycaud, Triuvananthapuram- 694 014
Tel. 0471- 2324835
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Kolkata) - Room No. 118,A Wing, M.S.O. Building, D.F. Block, Salt Lake, Kolkata- 700 084
Tele. 033-23343407
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Mumbai) - Building ‘E’ Khira Nagar, S.V. Road, Santa Cruz (W), Mumbai -54
Tele 022-26614393, 26614353
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Cochin) - Mercy Estate, Ravipuram, M.G. Road, Cochin - 682 015
Tele 0484-2360187
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Chandigarh) - Kendriya Sadan, 5th Block, Ground Floor, Sector 9-A, Chandigarh-160 017
Tele. 0172- 2741790
Office of Protector of Emigrants (Hyderabad) - Gagan Vihar, Ground Floor, Opposite to Gandhi Bhawan, Nampally, Hyderabad - 500 001
Tele. 040-24652557

Redressal of Public Grievances

Protector General of Emigrants is available for redressal of public grievances twice a week i.e. on Tuesday and Friday from 11:30 to 12:30.. During this hour aggrieved members of the public, prospective and/or registered recruiting agents prospective emigrants are welcome to attend the Public Hearings in the office of the Protector of Emigrants, Jaisalmer House, Canteen Block, Mansingh Road, New Delhi. Representatives of RAs/prospective RA and aggrieved members of the public are not allowed to attend the public hearing.

System Devised for Public Hearing

Any person desirous of attending public hearing shall require to write particulars of the complainants on ‘Public Hearing Sheet’ along with the nature of the complaint. The Public Hearing Sheet is available in the office of POE, Delhi and will be made available on the spot. After listening to the petitioner, summary of submissions along with the orders, is recorded by the PGE on the Sheet for follow up of action.
Public can address their queries and grievances to Protector General of Emigrants at pge @moia.nic.in, FAX 91-1124197984.


Some states in India have also created NRI cells. e.g.,

(i) NRI Cell U.P.:

NRI Cell in U.P. has been created to offer a Single Window facility to all NRIs / PIOs of U.P. It is a Cell dedicated to deal with all matters relating to Overseas Indians (OIs) with a view to effectively redressing their grievances on the one hand and to also play a proactive role in engaging OIs and providing escort services to invest in mutually beneficial projects of our state by constantly networking with NRIs/ PIOs/ their Associations abroad.
U.P. “NRI Cell is a bridge between the state and NRIs abroad for enhancing cooperation in investments, industry, commerce, culture and in other areas. The State invites NRIs to share their thoughts and grievances with NRI Cell of U.P.

(ii) NRI Sabha Punjab:

The NRI Sabha Punjab was founded in 1996 to fulfill the sacred and moral responsibility of the resident society of Punjab to look after the interests and welfare of the Non-Resident Punjabis and to strengthen their emotional and ethnic bonds with the motherland. It is a non-political Sabha affirmed by Govt. of Punjab which brings together NRIs, their well wishers in Punjab and Govt. of Punjab on one forum. Commissioner, Jalandhar Division as State NRI Chairman ensures proper working of the Sabha, conduct of election for President and audit of accounts/ records of membership etc. As every NRI member nominates a nominee member in Punjab, the Sabha becomes a joint forum of NRIs and their well-wishers. It gives the NRIs a forum for their recognition in Punjab. The Sabha is developing into a complete organization consisting of various wings like grievances removal, youth and women wings etc.

The main objectives of the organisation are:
* To help the NRIs in protecting their rights in Punjab especially in property related matters.
* To provide facilities to NRI on their visit to Punjab.
* To pursue the interests of the NRIs with the State and Central Governments.
* To help in investment of NRIs in Punjab.
* To maintain cultural and ethnic bonds of NRIs, especially the new generation with Punjab.
* To promote social welfare in Punjab by motivating the NRIs and their well-wishers residing in Punjab.
* To provide a forum for the NRIs, their well-wishers living in Punjab and the Government to join and act together.
* To act as trustees of the properties of NRIs of Punjab who wish to entrust their property to the Sabha for such trusteeship.
* To recognize through awards and receptions distinguished NRIs for their achievements and contributions to motherland

Non-Governmental Forums:
Over the years various non-governmental forums or associations or societies relating to the welfare of the NRIs have been formed. Some of them are as follows:
1. NRI Welfare Society of India, New Delhi, India
NRI Welfare Society of India is the premier body which watches the interest of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) within the country and plays the role of an effective link between the Government and NRIs.

In the last ten years the Society has played a significiant role in bringing NRIs closer to the motherland by informing and educating them about the liberalised policies of the Govt. of India. The Society organises one Congress in New Delhi and one outside India annually. NRIs from different parts of the world participate in the Congress to share their views and suggest ways to attract NRI investment in the country. The previous Congresses were addressed by national leaders. financial wizards and economic experts. The Society has been playing an effective role in building confidence amongst the NRIs, which was very much lacking. Various suggestions were forwarded to the Government, on which the government is giving serious thought and liberalised policies beneficial to NRIs. Complaints of harassment at various levels are forwarded and attention drawn of the relevant authorities.
The Society also honours NRIs with the 'Hind Rattan Award', for their outstanding services, achievements and contributions and this is a regular feature in every Congress.

Aims and Objects of the NRI Welfare Society of India:

# NRI Welfare Society of India was started with the noble objective of strengthening the emotional bonds between India and Non-Resident Indians.

# The Non-Resident Indians. Sprawling throughout the world strongly desire to see their motherland prosper and the common man should have better resources for bringing up his family. With this aim, thousands and thousands of NRIs have shown their readiness to make investments in India. They have ample financial resources, which they wish to invest into the overall development and progress of India.

# Inspite of the efforts of the Society to bring NRI investments to strengthen the economy of the country, Society is not indulging in any business or any deal. Society's job is to mobilize NRIs to bring them closer to their motherland sentimentally and emotionally by projecting India in correct perspective, as NRIs living away from the country are still not aware of the achievements and progress and developments made by the country.

# NRI demanded simplification of procedures while investing in India, but bureaucratic bottlenecks do come in the way. Society helps them to over cross their problems.

# With the help and assistance of NRIs we can build a strong economy and can face any sort of foreign competition. The government has announced various schemes. Unfortunately ,it did not reach the non-resident Indians and they are in wilderness.

# Society with the powerful advisory panel consisting of powerful politicians and influential persons helps any one and everyone, without any fee, payment or membership fee.

# If is unfortunate that our missions abroad fails to inform the NRIs about the policies of the Government. Society is informing the NRIs by regular Newsletters and E-mail every fortnight and through their journal NRI Link, which carries the policies of the Government towards the NRIs.

# Society is organizing, seminars, conferences and symposias on national and International levels in different parts of the world and also honour NRI men and women from various parts of the world to recognize their work.

# NRI Welfare Society of India recognizes their work, contributions and achievements of NRIs. Those who left the country empty handed and made a respected place for themselves outside the country. Thus, also contributing their might in strengthening India’s economy are being honoured with prestigious ‘Hind Rattan Award’ (meant only for NRIs)

# There is a communication gap between the NRIs and the Government, and to reduce it Government has now set up a new ministry Oversean Indian Affairs and society will serve as an active link in solving the NRIs problems.

# The Society provides a common platform to NRIs from all over the world.

In short, NRI Welfare Society acts as a watchdog for Non-Resident Indians and fights for their just causes. The Society is registered with Government of India under Societies Act.
Central Office:
D-253, Defence Colony, New Delhi-110024 (India)
Mobile No: +91 9810327483
Fax: +91 11 24621636
Email : nri@ndf.vsnl.net.in
nriwelfaresociety@yahoo.co.in

2. The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO):

The Global Organization of People of Indian origin (abbreviated as GOPIO) is a nonpartisan, non-sectarian global organization engaged in prompting wellbeing of non resident Indians and people of Indian origin enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in different countries and in furthering their cooperation with India.

Objectives:
Within the above overall purpose the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) will have the following specific objectives:
(a) To promote legitimate interests of the Indian community as a whole and of specific groups resident in particular countries.

(b) To help the Indian communities in different countries to promote legitimate secular and developmental interests of the countries in which they are resident.
(c) To promote the common cultural heritage of India abroad.

(d) To mobilize professional, financial. and intellectual resources of the community of Indians abroad for their mutual advancement and for the development of their country of origin.

(e) To organize interaction between communities of Indians abroad on a global level to deliberate and decide on common issues and problems facing them, including education and technology.

(f) To provide a forum at periodical intervals to discuss, debate and decide on common problems and issues facing groups of Indians abroad and initiate measures to redress their grievances.

g) To disseminate regularly information on global, regional and national developments affecting Indian community abroad as a whole or substantial parts thereof.

(h) To further the interaction between Indian people and other communities at global level in promoting world peace, progress and ecological harmony.

(i) To develop channels of communication between groups of Indians resident in different countries and between them and India.

(j) To raise funds through contributions and other means on regular basis and at special occasions for promoting social and cultural activities at a global level as well for the relief and rehabilitation of groups of Indians affected by natural and other calamities.

(k) To constitute Think Tanks and Task Forces of Indians abroad on particular issues of interest to the Global organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) or to India.

Conclusion:
Thus, the government has instituted proper redressal mechanism for Grievances of NRIs. Any aggrieved NRI can approach the Office of Protector of Emigrants or the state NRI cell (in case the state in which he resides has such a cell) and get his grievances heard through the mechanism afore-mentioned. In case the aggrieved NRI finds it inconvenient to approach such officer, he can get his grievances registered with any non-governmental forum, such as NRI Welfare Society of India, who forward the same to the Government.

Though the government has made the redressal mechanism, but it is yet not that effective and has many drawbacks. First of all, the number of days and number of hours, the Protector of Emigrants hears the grievances is very less. 2 days a week and that too only 1 hour in each of such days is not a sufficient period to hear all the grievances. Secondly, the no. of Offices of Protector of Emigrants is only 8 in the country. Many NRIs find it difficult to approach any such office which is often not in their own state. Thirdly, each state should take steps to make an NRI Cell within their territory to deal with all matters regarding grievance redressal and welfare of NRIs.

However, the redressal mechanism is a landmark in itself because it has provided a platform for redressal of all the grievances of NRIs.

Immigration Laws in India
The objective of immigration is gaining citizenship or nationality in a different country. In India, the law relating to citizenship or nationality is mainly governed by the provisions of the Constitution.

Future of Indian Immigration
India has historically been a land of plenty and immigration has been driven by economic opportunities. Over the years, India has attracted several invaders that remained in India as immigrants.

The author can be reached at: slahu@legalserviceindia.com / Print This Article

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