Majority of the Keralites who migrate to the Person Gulf countries go for short-term assignment, say for two to three years. Usually they raise the money for travel and visa formalities either by pledging their small piece of landed property or by selling the ornament they own. Even if the assignments are for longer duration, they may not be able to save much. Since most of them are engaged in manual labour or similar jobs that involves high risk, and as they are usually engaged on contract labour, accidents are very common, and once they are rented jobless, they have no other go other than to return home empty handed. Hence the social security of thenon resident keralites and their families is of major concern. In view of the above situation the Department of NORKA launched PRAVASI INSURANCE scheme in collaboration with M/s New India Assurance Company Ltd. The launching of Pravasi Suraksha Social Welfare Scheme in May 1997 was a landmark in the efforts of NORKA in providing social security cover to millions of NRKs who toil in the desserts of the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere in the world. The first of its kind in India, Pravasi Suraksha scheme attracted the attention of millions of Keralites The scheme was later expanded by adding two other schemes, viz. ‘Pravasi Suraskha kudumba Arogya Scheme to cover the medical claims of the families of the NRKs and Pravasi Vanitha Suraksha Scheme for the NRK womenfolk who are employed abroad.
In order to rehabilitate the NRKs who return home after finishing their assignments abroad, Government of Kerala established an agency, called NORKWA (Non Resident Keralites’ Welfare Agency) in June 1998. The agency was to be the field agency for implementing welfare schemes for NRKs. It was also intended to channelise the expertise of NRK returnees and resources to give thrust to industrial growth in the state, to rehabilitate them.
Norkwa being a Society is unable to attract funds both from inland and abroad, as it does not inspire confidence among the NRIs. Further there is no effective monitoring agency to control this society. Therefore to raise more funds and to discharge its duties effectively Government has decided to register a Company under section 25 of companies Act in place of NORKWA.
In order to deploy the NRK resources for the development of infrastructure in the state and also to ensure reasonable returns on investment, Government of Kerala conducted an NRK Infrastructure Initiative Fund. This is envisaged as a revolving fund and assistance is provided from the Fund for project structuring of infrastructure projects so that risks are minimized and commercially viable infrastructure projects posed to non-resident keralites. Remittances made by NRKs still remain an untapped source of financial adrenaline which could be canalized creatively for the development of the country and at the same time assure a decent return to the investors. This requires well-structured viable projects. The objective of the fund is to develop such projects, which would eventually be posed to nonresident Keralites for financing.
There have been several cases of non-residents getting stranded in foreign countries. In order to repatriate the stranded Keralites outside the country, Government constituted an Emergency Repatriation Fund to extend financial assistance to those who deserve financial assistance for repatriation.
Majority of the NRKs who have been repatriated to India as a result of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq hail from kerala. Many of the repatriates who have been sanctioned their compensation by UNCC have not so far received their respective compensation amounts. There is yet another lot who have not so far applied for compensation, as they were not literate enough to adhere to the deadlines and norms fixed by UNCC and special Kuwait Cell. The Department of NORKA has been constantly in touch with the special Kuwait Cell of the Ministry of External Affairs for assisting these people in getting their compensation early.
Government of Kerala has approved in principle the implementation of a pension scheme for Non resident Keralites. There is a proposal to introduce a contributory pension scheme in association with LIC of India. The Non resident Keralites Welfare Agency (NORKA) will be the nodal agency for the scheme.
Another Important programme being undertaken by the NORKA is the setting up of the Heritage Homes for the aged parents of NRKs.
NORKA department has taken very stern steps to check illegal recruitment. A massive awareness campaign has been launched and the police emigration authorities had given strict instructions to take serious and stringent action against illegal recruitment agents. As state-monitoring committee on illegal recruitment has been constituted with Minister NORKA as chairman. Following are the members of the committee.
The committee met on 23.07.2002 and formed a Core Group with Joint Secretary NORKA as convener to finalise a Media Plan and to come out with suggestions for implementation of various decisions taken by the high level committee.