He said this while speaking to the Indian community leaders and representatives of apex Indian Associations in Riyadh at the Indian Embassy Auditorium, Monday after holding talks with officials of Saudi Arabian National Recruitment Committee (SANARCOM) at Riyadh Palace Hotel.
M.O.H. Farook, Indian Ambassador and other officials from the Embassy were also present.
Ravi also made it clear that it would be the Indian Embassy’s prerogative to decide whether an Indian housemaid below 40 years of age can come and work in Saudi Arabia.
“We decided to introduce a system under which the Saudi work visa must first get attested by Indian Embassy before it is dispatched to India for recruitment of Indian workers,” he said adding that the Indian Embassy should take an active role in the recruitment of Indians for Saudi Arabia.
Sa’ad Al-Baddah, SANARCOM chief, earlier told that the Indian government has already agreed to reduce housemaid age from 40 to 30 years. During a recent visit to India SANARCOM delegation held discussions with Indian officials when Ravi already agreed to reduce the age to 30 years.
The minister said Indian Embassy’s approval and attestation of the Saudi work visa will do away illegal practice such as forced signing of second employment contract after an Indian worker arrives in Saudi Arabia and checking the unscrupulous agents recruiting Indians on jobs, which do not exist in the Kingdom.
The practice of issuing the so-called ‘free visa’ is rampant where the Saudi employers recruit foreign workers on jobs, which do not exist. The Saudi labor market is abundant with Asian workers who purchase ‘free visas’ and arrive in the Kingdom then start searching for jobs with other employers.
Ravi said the Indian mission authentication and approval of Saudi work visa will also help to keep record of Indian workers coming to Saudi Arabia on employment contracts, he said.
He said the new mechanism will be introduced within a month or two. The Indian government will provide more staff to the Indian mission in Riyadh for the new system to work effectively and efficiently.
“Soon after I go back from here I will take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and see to it that it is done by the External Affairs Ministry through the Finance Ministry,” he said.
Ravi said his ministry will also engage in some orientation program and awareness campaign for those Indians coming to work in Saudi Arabia. He said he will also see that the Indian Embassy in Riyadh also provide some legal advice to the Indian workers to solve their labor disputes at the labor courts here.
Citing an example of Indian workers, who came to see him at the Indian Embassy Ravi said the Saudi employer had not paid their salaries for several months and the poor workers are staying in miserable living conditions without air-conditioning, food, water and other basic amenities. He said he could see the agony on the faces of those poor and helpless Indian workers.
He said, community leaders can work along with the Embassy for the re-habilitation of the Indian workers.
“Unfortunately, I could not meet Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, Saudi Labor Minister, during this visit. Had I met him I would have taken the matter of delayed salaries of a group of Indian workers with him,” he said.
However, he said he is writing a letter to the Saudi Minister, which will be delivered by Indian Ambassador M.O.H. Farook.
Further he said, another major problem for Gulf NRIs is education for their children, he will suggest the education minister to conduct competitive exams in Gulf centers, he also said that the plans are under way to open NRI University, to offer higher studies to Overseas Indian students.