A pension and life insurance scheme for Indian workers abroad, signing of social security pacts with a number of countries and unfulfilled promise of streamlining the immigration process marked 2012 for the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry.
Fulfilling a long-standing demand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January announced the pension and life insurance scheme for overseas Indian workers to benefit over 5 million workers, especially those in the Gulf, and help them save for their return, resettlement and old age.
As the economy slowed down, the ministry, which looks after issues linked to diaspora, tried to reach out to Indians abroad seeking their support in bolstering the economy while highlighting its resilience.
The ministry organised a Mini Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in September in Mauritius to woo potential investors by projecting the wave of reform initiatives that the government took to bolster the economy. Mauritius is the top source of FDI in India, accounting for nearly 45 per cent of the total foreign investment.
In the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, the annual congregation of Indian diaspora, held in Jaipur earlier in the year, the then President Pratibha Patil pitched for harnessing private investments in areas of health, education and skill development and asked the overseas Indian community to be partners in the country's development.
Chief ministers of several states, including Gujarat, tried to woo more investments from overseas Indians by flaunting developmental initiatives launched by their respective governments ad concessions offered to entrepreneurs.
They also assured NRIs and PIOs that their states would be more than willing to facilitate if they wish to invest in any sector thus contributing to the overall development.
Though the ministry took a number of initiative to streamline the emigration process, it could not implement its ambitious scheme on launching a fully transparent mechanism for migration of those wanting to go abroad for jobs.
The ministry planned to link emigration authorities and Indian missions abroad through an online portal. The new system is aimed at ensuring orderly migration and check unscrupulous agents who often dupe Indians promising greener pastures abroad.
The new Emigration management Bill, drafted by the ministry to provide for greater transparency and better regulation of migration process, remained stuck at the inter ministerial consultation process.
In the course of the year, the ministry signed social security pact with a number of countries including Canada, Finland and Sweden. Indian professionals working in these countries on short term contract will be exempted from paying social security