Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh will from now onwards look after all issues related to Indians in the Gulf, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated on Thursday.
"All matters relating to Indian nationals in Gulf countries will now be looked after by my colleague @Gen_VKSingh," Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
Following this, when an Indian national from Saudi Arabia tweeted that he was stuck after working for 24 months in a human resource company in Riyadh, Sushma Swaraj advised him to give the name and address of his recruitment agent (RA) to VK Singh.
"RA must secure your return or face arrest," the external affairs minister tweeted.
There are nearly five million expatriate Indians in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A majority of them work as blue collar workers and there are frequent complaints of labour-related issues.
Sushma Swaraj’s statement comes after the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) that used to look after issues of Indians overseas was merged with the ministry of external affairs earlier this month.
"As minister for external affairs and overseas Indian affairs, I realised that substantial work of MOIA is done through our missions abroad," Sushma Swaraj stated on January 7.
"Therefore, I proposed to honourable prime minister that MOIA should be merged with the ministry of external affairs," she added.
"The prime minister has kindly accepted my proposal. So the MOIA will now be part of the ministry of external affairs," the minister announced.
The MOIA, dedicated to the multitude of Indian nationals settled abroad, was established in May 2004 as the ministry of non-resident Indians’ affairs. Later, it was renamed the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in September 2004.
This year, the Pravassi Bharatiya Divas, that used to be the flagship event of the erstwhile MOIA, was organised by the ministry of external affairs on January 9.