Union minister V K Singh today said the government was considering introducing an insurance policy for certain categories of workers going abroad that will cover natural death. “We already have a Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana (PBBY), which caters for insurance of all our people who immigrate outside. It covers accidental deaths, not natural death. Now, we are trying to see as to what can be done to get a ‘bima yojana’, which will also be able to cater for natural death if it takes place outside. So that the family can benefit. We are already working on it,” the Minister of State for External Affairs told reporters here on the sidelines of an event.
He was in the city to participate in the first ‘outreach conference’ of the Ministry of External Affairs with Telangana government on consular, passport and diaspora issues.
“The PBBY still exists catering to accidental deaths. In the insurance rules except for LIC, nobody covers natural death. We have decided to revamp and relook at it and find methodologies, where natural death also gets covered,” Singh said.
Reacting to a query on the security of NRIs in the US, he said, “The issues get blown up unnecessarily. Number of them are actually American citizens, but of Indian origin. When we approach the administration out there, they say this is an American citizen and we will deal with it.”
Nevertheless, he said, the MEA is constantly engaging with the US administration on the issue.
“Constantly our people take up such cases and we go out of our way to ensure that if some untoward thing happens to our people, all the help is granted because for us it is one incident that matters,” he said.
According to the minister, the government was holding talks with the US administration over the H1-B visa issue.
“Nothing has been implemented so far. The US is saying that they want to change the H-1B visa rules, so that they can restrict the entry to certain category. What we have done is to engage with all sections of the US administration and the Congress and we have told them that Indians are different because they have contributed towards the economy of the US,” he said.
“We are not in a category where our people have just gone and coming back…we are working, contributing and we are ensuring that a professional acumen is left over there. We are hoping this factor will be taken in mind when they change the visa rules whenever they do,” he said.
Singh said the MEA aims to convert 800 Head Post Offices (HPO) in various states into Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) for delivering passport-related services. “As of now, we have earmarked 86 HPOs, but ultimately our aim is to convert 800 of them. It will be done in a phased manner,” he said.
On a query about Telangana Chief Minister’s letter to the Centre requesting to hold the next edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBS) in Hyderabad, Singh said, “No decision has been taken (on selection of the venue)…there are several states, which have sent such letters on holding the PBD in their states…we have to sit down and work out.
“We will carry out our own assessments and meet the Chief Ministers. The next PBD is scheduled in 2019 and decision will be taken we have enough time,” he added.