India’s prime minister
Manmohan Singh has unveiled measures which are to be undertaken by
the government this year to improve the lot of the millions of
Indian working in foreign countries.

Speaking at the Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas (non-resident India day) 2012, Singh announced that
the government is to sponsor a new voluntary pension and life
insurance fund which will provide social security benefits and
low-cost life insurance cover against natural death to Indian
workers abroad.

In his speech, Singh
stressed: “The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas
workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement and
old age.”

Unskilled and semi-skilled
workers will be a particular focus of the scheme. Men participating
in the scheme will receive an annual subsidy of INR1,000 ($19) from
the government, while women will receive an annual subsidy of
INR2,000. The maximum subsidy period is five years.

According to the World Bank,
there are some 11.4m Indians working abroad. The bank estimates
that in 2010 these workers remitted a total of $55bn to their home