Ahead of US visit, Modi gets assurance from Qatar on labor reforms for Indian workers

Switzerland endorsed India to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

By Sreekanth A. Nair

Narendra Modi with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann
Narendra Modi with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gained tremendous support from countries he’s visited ahead of his trip to the United States.

Modi has visited Afghanistan, Qatar and Switzerland enroute to the US. He will visit Mexico following the US visit.

Qatar on Monday assured Modi that labor reforms the country is going to implement will improve the conditions of Indian laborers working there. The assurance came after Modi raised concerns over the safety of Indian workers in the Gulf nation.

About 630,000 Indian migrants are working in Qatar. Most of them are employed in the low-paid construction field. Human right organizations allege that they are subjected to abuses from the employers and penalties, and jail-term for dissent. Sometimes they are also deported for raising voice against such abuses.

Modi met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on Sunday.

“The Qatari side briefed the Indian side on the reform in labor laws which would protect the interest of skilled and unskilled labor in Qatar,” said the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Modi thanked the Qatari leadership for their concern towards the Indian community and assuring the safety of the largest migrant group in the country.

“I am aware of the issues you are facing. I will talk about it when I meet the authorities,” Modi said on Sunday, while addressing the Indian community in Qatar.

“If you have some issues on changing some laws and regulations, I can assure you that I will work with you all to bring about these changes,” he added.

Qatar is expected to replace their existing kafala sponsorship system where employees cannot change the job or leave the country without the permission of the employer.

On Monday, Switzerland endorsed their support to India’s move to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann announced the country’s support to India after holding talks with Narendra Modi.

“We have promised India support in its efforts to become a member of NSG,” Schneider-Ammann said.

India has been trying to get membership in the 48 member body which will help it expand its atomic energy sector. India had submitted its application formally to become a member of the NSG on May 12. The body will consider the application in its plenary meetings onJune 9 in Vienna and June 24 in Seoul.

“I am thankful to the President for Switzerland’s understanding and support for India’s membership of the NSG,” Modi said.

Both the countries also agreed to expand co-operation to curb the illegal investment made by Indians in Switzerland to evade tax.

“We discussed the need for an early and expeditious exchange of information to bring to justice the tax offenders. An early start to negotiations on the agreement on the automatic exchange of information would be important in this respect,” Modi said.

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