Recruitment of Indian nurses to Kuwait is set to become more transparent and corruption-free following extensive discussions held recently between a visiting Indian delegation and the Ministry of Health officials in Kuwait, said H.E. Sunil Jain, Ambassador of India to Kuwait.
The ambassador was speaking to the media, and representatives of various Indian associations in Kuwait, in presence of the four-member Indian delegation which included the Principal Secretary of Kerala State Department of Labor, Tom Jose, the Secretary of NORKA (Non-Resident Keralites' Affairs Department) Ms. Rani George, the CEO of NORKA-Roots R.S. Kannan and the Managing Director of ODEPC (Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants) Dr. Muraleedharan G. L.
The visiting Indian delegation met with the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health Dr. Jamal Al-Harbi and other ministry officials to discuss a wide-range of issues related to the hiring of nurses from India. Highlighting the outcome of the two-day talks, Ambassador Jain said that the Kuwait and Indian authorities are now in the process of finalizing the modalities of an agreement on the recruitment of nurses from India.
Explaining the reasoning behind these changes the ambassador said that nurses have for too long suffered exploitation from unscrupulous manpower recruiting companies and their agents. He called the new agreement with Kuwait a “step in the right direction” and added that the new system will be transparent and corruption-free. “We are receiving full cooperation from the Ministry of Health authorities in Kuwait in our attempt to introduce a new system of recruitment and final details of an agreement are currently being worked out," he noted.
The ambassador went on to point out that from 1 May, 2015, the recruitment of all nurses from India will be done only through three designated agencies — NORKA (Non-Resident Keralites' Affairs Department)-ROOTS, ODEPC (Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants) and the Tamil Nadu Overseas Manpower Corporation.
The ambassador added that from now on, employers in Kuwait looking to recruit Indian nurses will have to register through the online ‘e-migrate’ system. He also went on to reveal that nurses would now be placed under the ECR (Emigration Clearance Required) category so that their travel from the country would need the approval of the Protector of Emigrants.
Speaking about the discussions with Kuwaiti health ministry officials, Mr. Jose the Principal Secretary of the Labor Department in Kerala said, “We are encouraged by the positive response we have received from the Kuwaiti authorities to the new system we are introducing from 1 May. I thank the ambassador for his initiative and we are very hopeful that in the next few days we will be able to reach a final agreement on this issue.”
Pointing to the large amount of money involved in the nurses’ recruitment business, the Principal Secretary added, “It will not be easy to eradicate this recruitment business because the money involved is more than Rs20 billion and there are a lot of influential vested interests who would like to see the current recruitment process continued. When we try to change the existing system there are bound to be repercussions, ramifications, responses and reactions. But we are hopeful of purging the recruitment system and bringing about total transparency.”
The India government began the process of streamlining overseas recruitment of nurses following the exposure of cases of massive corruption and the huge sums of money being extorted from Indian nurses. Ambassador Jain it should be noted had exerted great efforts in getting the External Affairs Ministry and Overseas Affairs Ministry in India to take a concerted stand in finding a permanent solution to the issue of hiring nurses from India.