The Pandemic left hundreds of thousands of Goans jobless abroad and most of them had return back to Goa with almost no hopes. In April 2020, when the pandemic was at its highest peak, many Goan NRIs returned back to Goa while economies around the world fell off and many businesses and offices closed down, but now the situation has come back to normal and many Goans have started returning back to their jobs overseas.
According to the Goa NRI Commission, Goan NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) who returned back to Goa during the pandemic are now going back to their respective jobs in overseas countries.
“With international offices reopening and calling back their employees, some of the NRIs are reclaiming their former occupations. To some extent, Goan NRIs are going back. I wouldn’t say that their departure is full-fledged, but it started from around November- December 2020 itself,” said Narendra Sawaikar, Commissioner for NRI Affairs on Thursday.
The office of the NRI Commission in the state was deluged with panic calls from Goans, who were stranded without jobs and salaries. As a result, the NRI Commission department for overseas Goans created a registration portal for the Goan NRIs who wanted to return.
While around 5,000 NRI Goans had registered themselves on the portal, most of whom were from the Gulf countries and the United Kingdom (UK), the actual number of returnees was actually almost three times higher, according to the reports from the state department, which was monitoring the reverse migration.
During the period between April-October 2020, an estimated 15,000 NRI Goans flew back to the state which included Goan seafarers, who worked on cruise and cargo ships. “The data on the returning NRIs was maintained until October 2020, as after that the international flight movement had eased up due to the air-bubble agreement because of which NRI Goans started making their own travel arrangement,” said Anthony D’Souza, Director of the department of NRI affairs.
The NRI Goans are important to the state, as their remittances churn the economy. Savaikar said, “NRI remittances to the state in 2020-21 are likely to take a hit from the pandemic turmoil. In many cases, the salaries of Goans working abroad were slashed and there are also many who have not migrated back. With many Goans not paid salaries, it will definitely affect the remittances,” said the NRI Commissioner.
The Central government launched the Vande Bharat Mission in early May last year to evacuate Indians stranded abroad due to travel restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic under the guidance of PM Narendra Modi.
According to the reports of the Ministry of External Affairs, as of March 2021, around 50 lakh NRIs have been facilitated to return to India under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) for which the Central Government has spent Rs 33.5 crores.
“A total of 45,82,043 people from 98 countries have returned to India under the aegis of the Vande Bharat Mission. The vast majority came through flights, though there were also some who came by ship and across land crossings. Kerala received the maximum returnees, followed by Delhi, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
UAE was the country from where the maximum number of stranded Indians returned, followed by Saudi Arabia, the USA, and Qatar” said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Out of these returnees, 39% of them were workers, 39% were professionals, 6% students, 8% visitors, and 4.7% stranded tourists.