Indian embassy in Kuwait recognises 6 agencies to recruit nurses and prevent exploitation by private agents

The Indian embassy in Kuwait has recognised six state-run agencies to recruit nurses from India. A senior official at the embassy said that they have sent a proposal to the Kuwaiti government to allow the recruitment of nurses only through these six agencies.

“In a bid to streamline the recruitment process and keep away the unscrupulous agents who fleece applicants, we have submitted a proposal to the Kuwaiti government. They have accepted it. We are working on the procedures. Soon, the recruitment will be done only through six state-run agencies,” the official told Firstpost.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The proposal is aimed at stopping private agents from charging exorbitant fees from nurses seeking a job in Gulf countries. Furnishing details of nurses working in Gulf countries as on 19 December 2017, the Indian government said Saudi Arabia was the biggest employer with 3,621 Indian nurses under Emigration Check Required (ECR) category working there, followed by Qatar with 350 nurses and Kuwait with a 118 workers.

Six state-run agencies had been recognised by the Indian government for the recruitment of nurses to 18 ECR countries in 2015.  But despite the Indian government taking several other steps to prevent nurses from being duped by emigration-related fraudsters, including a mandatory ECR requirement, migrant rights activists in India said the number of nurses migrating through unofficial channels and private agencies remain high.

Activists say nurses opting to migrate to Kuwait are charged anywhere between Rs 10 and 15 lakh by unauthorised private agencies. While they manage to get the job they were looking for at times, in most cases, they are cheated of their money and denied basic working rights on reaching the Gulf nation.

“Once the government plan is put in place, job seekers will have to pay only Rs 30,000 for the recruitment process,” said the embassy official, adding that there are at least 5,000 nursing job opportunities coming up in Kuwait.

Citing a recent example where nursing aspirants were duped, Arul Antony, a migrant rights activist, working with the National Domestic Workers Movement in Chennai, said, “A few women were taken to Kuwait by a private agency that offered them nursing jobs at a hospital. However, when they reached, they were forced to do household nursing jobs, without any rest or proper payment or shelter.”

“They were finally repatriated after the Indian embassy and the Kuwait foreign affairs department intervened,” he added.

Antony said that the middlemen who were involved in the same duping case are trying to recruit more women to Kuwait. “Not only do they (nursing aspirants) pay huge amounts as recruitment fee but they also get duped,” he added.

In a successful crackdown on one such private agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had unearthed a Rs 200 crore scam and arrested Varghese Uthup, a Kuwait-based recruiter, in 2017. Instead of charging Rs 19,500 as service charge, Uthup’s Kochi-based firm was allegedly charging Rs 19.5 lakh to recruit nurses to Kuwait.

After being charged with cheating, conspiracy to commit criminal misconduct, and collection of excess service charge from emigrants, Uthup remained in Kuwait to evade arrest. However, he was detained by the CBI team when he was forced to visit Kerala. His anticipatory bail was rejected by the Supreme Court.

In another similar incident last year, an advertisement was circulated on social media sites in the north eastern states of India offering job opportunities for nurses in the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health and the Kuwait Oil Company.

But identifying it as a scam, the Manipur government issued a statement saying that the advertisement was put up to dupe prospective nurses in the country, financially or otherwise, by sending them to Kuwait via Dubai or Bahrain without the involvement of authorised state-run agencies.

The Indian embassy in Kuwait had informed that the agency mentioned in the advertisement is not registered under Section 10 of the Emigration Act, 1983 and hence was not authorised to carry out overseas recruitment business as they did not have the valid registration certificate.

The Indian embassy official said that once the plan of allowing emigration only through the six state-run agencies is implemented, it will be a “government-to-government recruitment system, where fair practices will exist.”

“We have sent requests to all the six manpower agencies. We are waiting to hear from them,” the official added.

The six state-run agencies in India authorised for the recruitment of Indian nurses abroad are Norka-Roots Centre and Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants in Thiruvananthapuram, Overseas Manpower Corporation Ltd in Chennaim, UP Financial Corporation in Kanpur, Telangana Overseas Manpower Company in Hyderabad and the Overseas Manpower Company in Vijayawada.

The author is a member of The NewsCart, a Bengaluru-based media startup.

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Updated Date: May 10, 2018 16:09:06 IST

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