In a recent address on Friday, July 9 Goa CM Dr. Pramod Sawant announced a new measure urging all expats and seafarers to register themselves on the NRI Website of Goa. The site has been set up to provide a platform to the NRI community of Goa to voice their grievances and for the Government to reach out to them in a timely and efficient manner.
The Goa NRI Commission was first established on February 23, 2006, for the purpose of catering to NRI Affairs given the large population of Goans that are working abroad. The Commission was upgraded recently and has been active since last year, in view of the pandemic crisis and the resultant mass repatriation process.
On Friday, the Goa NRI Commission upgraded its website to help overseas Indians from the state in seeking help in the event of distress, as was seen last year in the event of lockdowns all across the world.
According to NRI commissioner Narendra Sawaikar, Goans living abroad and seafarers should register on the site to enable the commission to provide help in times of distress. “The idea to develop a website with the provision to register was conceived in February 2020,” he told the media. Thus, he appealed to all expats to register themselves and furnish all relevant details on the website.
This move was made following the issues faced by the Goa government last year during the repatriation of Goans stranded in different countries. As per the statement given by Sawaikar, many close relatives of the NRIs were not able to provide enough details of their family members who were in need of assistance during the emergency situation last year.
This is what prompted the decision for such an initiative. Savarkar believes that having adequate and relevant details in hand can greatly help the NRI Commission of the state to come to the aide of Goans abroad during their times of need.
Further, he also assured people that the data registered on their site will be completely protected and guarded. It will be used only in the case of “any eventualities” and will not be released in the public domain.
The website was conceptualized as early as February 2020. A team of Infotech Corporation of Goa, including Shweta Dalvi and Gaurav Naik, have designed the website. Director Anthony D’Souza and the team have been given the charge of extending any support required in entering the data. There are an estimated 300,000 Goans living and working abroad.
Approximately three lakh Goans are residing and working abroad, as per estimates of the NRI commission. There are around 18 associations of Goans in various countries.
In April 2020, a similar website was launched for BRIs and seafarers seeking to return home. Within the first few days of launch, nearly 1,000 registrations had already been received on the website. This was done to gather information about ex-pats stranded abroad so that the Goa government could take the required steps to urge the Union government to arrange for repatriation.
This followed a meeting with the Goa Seamen Association of India and families of seafarers who urged CM to put pressure to conduct repatriation of Indian seafarers. Goa emerged as a significant advocate for this move as approximately 8,000 of the estimated 15,000 Indians working on cruise ships and other merchant vessels, are Goan. And this entire community was left in limbo due to the cancellation of international flights last year.
Subsequently, by May, around 5,200 expats had registered themselves for repatriation. At that point, the commission also stated that in return, the expats would be incorporated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Some of those who contacted the Commission had been sacked from their jobs in February and March. Some were on 50% salaries, and some had been informed about a possible job loss. “There is uncertainty about jobs, therefore they want to return,” stated the Commission’s report.
It is estimated that during pre-pandemic times, approximately 3 lakh Goans were working abroad. And 25% may have been rendered jobless because of the pandemic circumstances. Goa’s large expat population is settled mainly