India is set to launch an ambitious scheme that will provide insurance and financial cover to over a million blue-collar expatriate workers residing in the Gulf countries.

The scheme, billed as a major accomplishment of the government, will be formally launched later on Monday by Vayalar Ravi, the Minister of Overseas Indian affairs. The Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana is a pension and life insurance fund that could benefit up to two million expatriate workers.

Beefed up with a significant government contribution, the scheme encourages expat employees to build up savings that they can be used for their resettlement on their return to India. It would also contribute to their pension and provide a life insurance cover against natural death during the period of coverage.

Overseas Indian workers between 18-50 years old who have Emigration Check Required status stamped on their passport, and have migrated on employment or contract visa, are eligible to enrol in the scheme. Enrolment is possible with the assistance of Service Providers appointed by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Subscribers then have to open a Non-Resident External account that allows Non-Resident Indians to remit funds in any permitted foreign currency, which is converted to Indian rupees and credited to their account. The participant’s contribution will be automatically deducted from this account and credited to the scheme.

The Ministry has devised an elaborate formula that governs the government’s contribution to the holders of the scheme. Under this arrangement, the government will make an annual contribution of Rs.1,000 for those who save between Rs.1,000-Rs.12,000 a year. Women workers are eligible for an additional contribution of Rs. 1,000, which would be valid for a period of five years or the return of the worker to India, whichever is earlier. Those who save more than Rs.4,000 a year are eligible for an additional payment of Rs.900 by the government. It will be channelled to a corpus to be used for resettlement at the time of return.

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