The Indian government is working on a policy framework for safeguarding the interests of overseas Indian workers, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said.
"It is... imperative that we develop a policy framework and an institutional arrangement that will best serve the overseas Indian workers over the medium to long term," the minister said while inaugurating the second annual meeting of the heads of Indian missions in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Malaysia, Jordan, Yemen and Libya.
The two-day meet, being held by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), will discuss several policy measures for safeguarding interests of Indian workers abroad.
Stating that overseas Indian workers faced difficult working and living conditions, Ravi said: "The effort of my ministry has been focussed on achieving a minimum level of policy coherence and in defining minimum standards of living and working conditions that must be applied across all countries that have a significant overseas Indian workers population."
There are around five million Indians in the six GCC countries of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. Many of them are working as contract labourers in the booming construction industry there.
In Malaysia, people of Indian origin constitute around eight percent of the country's population of around 24 million. Many of them had migrated from India to work in the rubber plantations in the Southeast Asian nation.
Jordan, Yemen and Libya too have large numbers of Indian workers.
The minister stressed that the policy framework must include some non-negotiable terms of work contract.
"Such a policy framework must include certain non-negotiable terms of the work contract, an effective outreach programme for grievance redressal and a strong legislative framework to deal with intermediaries involved in the exploitation of the workers," he said.
Apart from this, the two-day conference will also discuss special measures for protection of women emigrants in those countries, an MOIA official said.
Last year, a similar conference of envoys was organised by the MOIA at Doha in Qatar.