Envoy offers financial support to distressed Indians

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Efforts to bring back Indian migrant workers stranded in India continue

India’s High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi speaking at the Discussion of the ‘Indians Living in Auckland Facebook Group’ organised by Indian Newslink and Indian High Commission Wellington on January 29, 2022 (Screen Grab)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 1, 2022

Indian nationals who are financially stressed by job loss, death in the family and other causes can be assured of support and assistance from the Indian High Commission in Wellington.

India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi said that people in need can approach his office for quick relief, especially under the current Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that Indians in need of monetary support should not hesitate to ask for help.

“I urge them to write to us as soon as they feel the need,” he said, speaking on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at an online Group Discussion organised by ‘Indians Living in Auckland Facebook Group’ in association with Indian Newslink and the Indian High Commission.

He said that financial assistance is rendered through the ‘Indian Community Welfare Fund,’ established some years ago. He said that since April 2021, his Office has provided financial support relief to the families of 21 Indian nationals who died in New Zealand.

“The grieving families of these people are of modest economic background and cannot afford costs of transporting the bodies to India, meet funeral and other expenses. We have disbursed about $135,000 to these families,” he said.

Mr Pardeshi said that those in need are encouraged to approach the High Commission either directly or through a registered Association serving the Indian Community.

“We will try and provide support as food packages, medical supplies or finance,” he said.

Visits around the country

Mr Pardeshi has been meeting members of the Indian community not only in Wellington and Auckland but also in other parts of the country. In December 2021, he became the first Indian High Commissioner to visit Invercargill, where about 900 Indians live.

“These visits help me to understand the needs and aspirations of our people. These also create opportunities to explain the services provided by the Indian High Commission,” he said.

Indian High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi published three booklets of wide interest at the Republic Day Celebrations at his official residence on January 26, 2022. He is seen here with (from left) Anubhav Varshney (Commercial Assistant), Manoj Sahu (Second Secretary, Political and Commercial), Ed Polaczuk (Programme and Change Consultant, Duco Consultancy), Rakhi Pardeshi and Kiren Rawat (Marketing Executive and Social Secretary to the High Commissioner). (HC Photo)

Stranded migrants in India

Answering questions sent by members of the Group and readers of Indian Newslink, Mr Pardeshi said that his heart went out to Indian migrants stranded in India.

According to available information, about 800 people are waiting to return to New Zealand from various parts of India.

“The genesis of this problem goes back to March 2020 when the New Zealand government closed its borders. Air New Zealand operated three flights to bring home about 500 New Zealand citizens and Permanent Residents.  Thereafter, the Government of India organised Air India flights through its ‘Vande Bharat’ Programme. About 3500 stranded people in India and New Zealand benefited by these flights,” he said.

According to Mr Pardeshi, the New Zealand government had assured that migrant workers and others will be gradually allowed to return.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had told us during our conversations that solutions would be forthcoming, Mr Pardeshi also had an opportunity to discuss the matter with her at the Tenth Annual Indian Newslink Lecture (at which she was the Guest Speaker) held in Auckland on August 6, 2020, and with Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield at the Eleventh Lecture held on August 16, 2021.

“I have been constantly writing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister of Immigration and others on this issue. The matter was also raised during a virtual meeting between India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar with his New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta on March 1, 2021.

India’s High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi with his wife Rakhi Pardeshi with the members of the Indian community in Invercargill (HC Photo)

“Last year, a group of stranded Indians marched to the High Commission of New Zealand in India. While I am taking all the steps possible, I would urge anyone aggrieved and those who believe that the rules have not been interpreted properly, to follow the procedures through the New Zealand government channels. Ultimately, the issue of visas and other permits are the sovereign right of the government. People have gone to court on the MIQ issue,” he said.

Stating that migrant Indians formed a part of New Zealand since many of them have lived and worked here for some years, he said that they should not be allowed to suffer.

“Two years is too long. In my letter to the Immigration Minister (on January 5, 2022), I had said, ‘Our people have been in despair. There is hope that with the dawn of the New Year, the matter will be revisited.’  I have requested the New Zealand government to look at the issue from a humanitarian view. Ultimately, it is up to the government to take the decision that it seems fit. However, I will continue to try,” he said.

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