Private Indian recruiters who hire nurses to work in foreign countries including the GCC countries and particularly Kuwait, have found a new way to overcome restrictions imposed on them by the Indian government, according to a report by the Express News Service.
These recruiters now reportedly operate from Dubai leaving the enforcement agencies in the southern Indian state of Kerala — the state that produces much of the nursing staff — mere spectators because the foreign land is beyond their jurisdiction. According to reports a large number of nurses seeking employment in Kuwait’s Ministry of Health (MOH) recently travelled to Dubai on visit visas for interviews. India’s Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating cases against various recruitment agencies is said to be aware of what is happening in this regard.
One CBI official who declined to give his name said, “We have received information that a number of candidates attended written tests and interviews conducted by India-based recruitment agencies in Dubai. “The nurses travelled to the Gulf country on visiting visas. We have only limited information as the procedures were carried out in Dubai, which is out of our jurisdiction. If the candidates lodge any complaint, we will contact the police in that country for assistance,” the official added. The owner of the Al-Zarafa Manpower Consultants and Travels Uthup Varghese, who is based in Abu Dhabi, and who has been at the center of corrupt practices remains at large because of the failure of the CBI to extradite him.
During an interview with the news channels in Dubai, Uthup was quoted as saying he was not in the custody of any enforcement agency, either in India or abroad. He added there was nothing illegal about the procedures followed by his agency in recruiting nurses to Kuwait, and that the process would continue until there is demand for nurses abroad. In March this year, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs had issued an order banning private agencies from recruiting nurses for jobs in 18 countries. In Kerala, even the government-run agency NoRKA which is responsible for recruitment procedures is short of ideas when it comes to taking action against the agencies that conduct examinations and interviews abroad.
An unidentified NoRKA official said, “The Protector of Emigrants (PoE) has been alerted about the new trend. But, action could be taken only if the candidates complain. We have to check how the nurses recruited in Dubai get emigration clearance from the Indian Government.” According to NoRKA, the recruitment process in Dubai is smooth and the agencies plan to fill 1,500 vacancies in Kuwait by October-end. The recruited nurses have been asked to pay around Indian Rs 3 million each (approximately $45,360).
Earlier, various Indian government agencies, including the CBI, the Law Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax Department had filed cases against various recruitment agencies because they were collecting exorbitant fees of around IRs 1.95 million ($29,500) from each candidate, while the fee stipulated by the government is approximately IRs 19.500 ($295). The Government of India, had earlier stated starting from April 30, 2015 the overseas recruitment of Indian nurses would be done only through the government agencies such as the Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC), Non- Resident Keralites Affairs Department (NORKA-Roots) — the agency that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora — and the Tamil Nadu Overseas Manpower Corporation Ltd (TNOMCL)