Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Sushma Swaraj is reaching out to the Telugu-speaking members of the Indian diaspora. Even as the Parliament session is set to start, she has invited MPs of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to discuss problems of overseas Indian workers from their States and to “understand the ground realities so that remedial steps can be initiated by the government.”

In the letter, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, Ms. Swaraj says she is particularly concerned about Indians working in the Gulf region and other countries that they frequent.

More than six million Indians live and work in the Gulf region, of which a large number come from the southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala. While India ranks first in global remittances at about $63.5 billion, many tales of misery accompany that money being sent home. On an average, say activists, two Indians commit suicide every week in the Gulf region. Others face stress and health issues given the poor working conditions and unfavourable laws in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. Reports say about 400 bodies were returned to Hyderabad airport in 2012 alone, and even the procedure of repatriating the bodies is a long and arduous one for the families.

Taking the large number of complaints into account, and the pressure on the MEA and MOIA as a result, Ms. Swaraj, who also holds the External Affairs Ministry portfolio, has decided to streamline the process.

In her letter sent to all 42 Lok Sabha MPs and 11 Rajya Sabha MPs she wrote, “I am sure, as MPs from [Andhra Pradesh and Telangana], you must be seized of the problems faced by these people (overseas workers)…You may kindly appreciate that the Indian diaspora is contributing significantly to India’s economy and it is our duty to mitigate the problems faced by them.”

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