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Govt finds out: 25k Chinese entered India on biz visas but are in unskilled jobs

A deadline of September 30 has been set for these workers to either return or apply for a legitimate employment visa.

In a massive screening exercise of Chinese working on Indian projects,the government has identified close to 25,000 such workers who are on business visas but have been doing unskilled and semi-skilled jobs. A deadline of September 30 has been set for these workers to either return or apply for a legitimate employment visa.

To avoid further confusion in future,the Home Ministry,in a meeting with industry representatives,made it clear that no Indian company has the right to enter into an obligation in a contract with a Chinese company for bringing labour from there. The government is of the view that this involves sovereign issues and no entity,private or public,can insert this on its own in a commercial contract.

As a result,Chinese companies are now complaining because labour was one key advantageous segment for them in every bid and allowed them to offer lower costs compared to competitors. While this has created a fair amount of resentment in Beijing,sources said,the fact remains that even China does not allow all types of foreign labour to be employed in its country.

It all started when a camp of some 600 Chinese labourers landed up in a fight with local villagers at a steel plant site near Bokaro in May,which almost got riotous and police had to be deployed in large numbers to control the situation. Both sides ended up filing complaints with the police and in the investigations that followed,it turned out that the Chinese people had business visas even though they were performing semi-skilled and unskilled jobs.

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Much of this also has to do with the Left pressure on the last UPA government to be liberal with visas to Chinese involved in projects in India. As a result,compared to 15,979 business visas issued in 2004,58,658 visas were issued in 2008. Until June 2009,as many as 26,014 business visas had been issued to the Chinese. It now turns out that when the last UPA government sought to oblige the Left,bulk business visas were issued regardless of skill orientation.

Government sources say they now want to streamline the process without being obstructive. So,business visas will have to strictly be restricted to businessmen and for business purposes alone. Those who will have work in projects for long duration will have to apply for employment visa. The Home Ministry has guaranteed that it would revert within 45 days of the application being made. To the extent that if there is no response in the stipulated time,the Indian mission in China will be free to go ahead and issue an employment visa.

The Home Ministry is also clear that for anyone who is an engineer,a specialist or even holds a diploma indicating a certain specialised skill orientation,the case would simply be examined against the negative list of individuals which intelligence agencies maintain and the go-ahead would be given if the security checks are in place. But when it comes to semi-skilled and unskilled labour which could include electricians,plumbers etc,the matter would be referred to the Labour Ministry for clearance.

First published on: 14-09-2009 at 09:07 IST
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