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Devoted toll-free helpline for Indian expatriates.

Summary: DUBAI - Indian expatriates needing help anytime now have a lifeline. All they need to do is call the toll-free number 800India.

The helpline of the much-awaited Indian Workers' Resource Centre (800-46342) was dedicated to the Indian expatriate community in the UAE by the President Pratibha Devisingh Patil in Dubai on Tuesday evening.

The toll-free helpline is the first of its kind for migrant workers by any country in the world.

The resource centre will receive, register and monitor the grievance petitions, and offer counselling sessions and awareness classes to the Indian workers and other members of Indian community on legal, financial and medical issues in cooperation with the Indian diplomatic missions.

Pratibha Patil announced the launch of the centre and its hotline number at a reception organised by Indian Ambassador to the UAE M. K. Lokesh at India Club, Dubai which was attended by around 1,000 members of the community.

"At the outset, I would like to acknowledge the contributions made by the Indian community to the growth and transformation of this country. In this regard, the role of Indian workers requires special mention, and as do their problems and issues, which should receive our careful attention.

"I am happy to launch today the Indian workers' resource centre which, apart from assistance, including counselling, will provide a 24-hour helpline for workers.

"I hope the Indian community will extend all assistance to the Indian missions in the UAE to enable this centre to fulfil its responsibilities."

Apart from the toll-free line, the resource centre at Bank Street in Dubai will have a walk-in counter to receive petitions directly from the workers on all days from 3pm to 7pm.

In Abu Dhabi, another walk-in centre will function in the Indian Embassy from 3pm to 7pm on Fridays.

One-to-one counselling will be given by a panel of 14 experts from the centre which initially will have 10 staff members who will attend to calls in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi.

The president also launched a website of the centre -- www.iwrc-uae.com.

The service will also assist the missions to process the attestation of employment documents relating to Indian workers.

The IWRC is a pilot project of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs aimed at addressing multifarious issues being faced by the Indian expatriates, especially the workers.

The Indian missions have been addressing their grievances and offering legal and psychological support on a case-to-case basis. The IWRC is expected to do the same job in a continuous, professional manner for an extended group of beneficiaries.

Dubai was chosen for the launch of the project since the highest number of Indian expatriates in the UAE are based in the emirate.C Depending on the success of the initiative in the UAE, the ministry plans to launch similar centres in other countries which have a big presence Indian workers.

VFS Global, a specialist partner of diplomatic missions worldwide, won the competition to run the resource centre that will function on a 24/7 basis.

Earlier, the president received a brief welcome from the trustees and board of directors of the India Club.

After the launch of the welfare centre, she, along with her husband Devisingh Shekhawat, also came down from the dais and mingled with the audience. She shook hands with several people in the audience and interacted with them.

sajila@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 24, 2010
Words:577
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