1 S IRUDAYA RAJAN C S AKHIL 1. BACKGROUND The mobility restriction and massive job losses during the covid19 pandemic forced the countries of origin to bring back their citizens, especially temporary labour migrants from destination countries. India, the home for 17 million cross-border temporary labour migrants, carried out the largest repatriation exercise from May 7, 2020, to bring back the stranded migrants. Considering the persistent requests from the Indian diaspora and workers stranded overseas, the Indian government executed the repatriation of Indians using the national carrier and navy vessels. It brought back the migrants in 10 phases under a mission titled 'Vande Bharat Mission1.' The rapid increase in the number of Indians affected in the Gulf countries, and the loss of jobs and poor access to health services in the labour camps made the Indian workers increasingly vulnerable. Even though the Indian government addressed the immediate requirement in repatriation, the government failed to understand and recognise their post-arrival grievances. Historically, India's response to the grievances of migrant workers is poor compared to other origin countries, especially regarding the grievances on labour disputes. The number of unresolved cases in the past years (2019 and 2020) is 6988. This figure consists of cases only from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries except the United Arab Emirates (UAE)2. Amidst the establishment of grievance mechanisms such as MADAD3 and helplines in Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayatakendra (PBSK)4, the unresolved grievances remain high. The grievances raised by Indian workers include non-payment of wages and end of service benefits, contract violations, labour right violations, harassment at the work place and confiscation of documents. The number of complaints from the Indian workers, especially on non-payment of wages and other benefits5, had multiplied due to the economic crisis and panic precipitated by the spread of the infectious disease among migrant communities. Among the workers who had lost their jobs, some were terminated and repatriated forcefully, some were given false promises about the payment of wages and dues, and only a handful of the workers received all benefits and dues before repatriation (MFA, 1https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vande-bharat-becomes-one-of-top-civilian-evacuations/article34361996.ece 2Kuwait - 3078, Saudi Arabia - 2618, Oman - 741, Qatar - 451, Bahrain - 100 https://www.mea.gov.in/lok-sabha.htm?dtl/33459/QUESTION_NO420_UNRESOLVED_LABOUR_CASES 3https://madad.gov.in/AppConsular/welcomeLink 4https://pbsk.cgidubai.gov.in/ 5https://adnchronicles.org/2021/07/10/wage-theft-plagues-indias-migrant-workers/

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