New Delhi: The government is considering giving Aadhaar cards to Non-Resident Indians and a decision on it will be taken soon, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday while inviting the diaspora community to actively participate in India's growth story.
In her address to the first limited edition of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, Swaraj said it has been decided that women workers will be allowed to go to Gulf countries for employment only through government agencies to ensure they are not duped by recruiting agents or firms.
The PBD, webcast by almost all Indian Missions and Posts, was organised for the first time by External Affairs Ministry (MEA) after the government's decision to merge Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) with it.
Earlier MOIA used to host the event. January 9 was chosen as the day for PBD as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the "greatest Pravasi", returned home from South Africa to lead India's freedom struggle.
Asking the diaspora to participate in government's various flagship programmes including Skill India, Digital India and Clean Ganga initiatives, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the Aadhaar card scheme to be extended to NRIs.
"So far Aadhar card has been given to those Indians who live in India. It is not for non-resident Indians. But you will be happy to know that the Prime Minister wants the card to be given to the NRIs the way it is issued to people living
"He even wants it for OCI (Overseas Citizens of India card) holders. The matter is under our consideration. No decision has been taken as discussions on it are underway. I hope soon you will hear about it," Swaraj said during an interaction following her address.
The government has so far issued Aadhaar cards to over 92 crore citizens. Under the programme, every citizen is to be provided with a 12-digit unique identification number for which biometric information is collected.
On restricting women from going to Gulf countries through the recruiting agencies, she said the decision has been taken to stop them from getting duped.
"We will send women only through government agencies," Swaraj said during an interactive session with Indian missions abroad.
Calling upon the diaspora to be part of the India growth story, she said "It is time for you to come back to India."
Effusive in praise of the Prime Minister, Swaraj said India's engagement with the overseas Indians has increased manifold because of his constant endevour to reach out to the community. Swaraj also mentioned Modi's Madison Square address in the US and at the Wembly in London.
"Your achievements in the countries of your adoption are a matter of pride... It is our responsibility to protect you and take care of you. Indeed, we are you and you are us," she said.