Assisting the Indian citizens living abroad to travel back to India whenever they want to.
The number of Indians moving around the world is significantly increasing. Over almost three decades, between 1990-2017, India witnessed waves of skilled and unskilled labour emigration. Indians living in the middle-eastern Arab state of Qatar increased 82,669%, from 2,738 to 2.2 million, over 27 years to 2017, which is higher than in any other country in the world. In two years, between 2015-2017, the Indian population in Qatar, more than tripled, rising by 250%.
Oman (688%) and the United Arab Emirates (622%) also feature in the top 10 countries for the highest increases in Indian residents between 1990-2017, while in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, over seven years to 2017, Indian populations rose by 110% and 78% respectively. These figures are proof of the number of people willing to relocate to work. Since most of the last decade was seeing the Gulf economies expanding with the increasing price of oil, a lot more people started relocating there for work.
As these oil-rich nations embarked on large-scale development projects, workers from India and other South Asian countries heard the call for the growing number of construction jobs and started filling them. These people soon moved on to other sectors of work, and India was seeing a lot more skilled labour leaving the country, with the number of unskilled labour moving abroad, decreasing, currently at half the amount as compared to the beginning of the decade.
However, recent global economic slowdowns have slowed migrant flows from almost all
countries around the world. The airports shutting down and the lack of proper flight
transportation, while the pandemic was also claiming lives were other factors that assisted with the process. Declining oil prices, spending cuts on construction projects, and an economic slowdown explain the falling numbers of Indians travelling in search of work around the world.
While a lot of the people are working abroad, they have family back in India requiring them to travel back and forth to visit them. Since many of them were abroad for many years, they might even have citizenship in the other country and travelling back and forth could be challenging.
To assist with this, the Indian Government created a system called the Overseas Citizen of India card or the OCI card. People who are nationals of other countries but have roots in India can apply for an OCI card, as long as they can prove their roots and links to the Indian subcontinent. There are a few exceptions to this rule with people from Pakistan and Bangladesh not being allowed to apply for an OCI card.
The process is quite straightforward and can be availed by people from all corners of the world through Indian missions, which exist in other countries as well. They have to fill out an OCI application and have to attach some of their supporting documentation to verify the information added to the form. While there are so many Indian overseas citizens abroad, the country is working on making the travel process for all of them simpler. Seventeen million Indians were living abroad as in 2017.