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TRANSCRIPT OF THE REMARKS BY AMB SIBI GEORGE AT THE VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE AT THE EMBASSY, APRIL 21, 2021
Good Afternoon everybody,
A very warm welcome to our Open House of April 2021.
I welcome the office bearers of various associations who have joined us today; I welcome the media representatives who have joined us today. Ramadan Kareem to all our friends in Kuwait and the Indian community here. A Happy Ram Navami to all the members of the Indian community in Kuwait.
Let me begin today’s open house by thanking His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Amir and His Highness Sheikh Mishaal Al- Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, Crown Prince for hosting the large Indian community in Kuwait.
During the last few weeks I had some very useful meetings with the leadership of the State of Kuwait. I called on the Interior Minister His Excellency Thamer Ali Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah; Minister of Social Affairs and Community Development His Excellency Mr. Dr.Meshaan Muhammad Meshaan Al Otabi; Minister of Finance and Minister of State for Economic Affairs and Investments His Excellency Mr. Khalifa Musaed Hamada; and Minister of Commerce and Industry His Excellency Mr. Dr. Abd Allah Essa Al Salman. I addition, I also had meetings with the Assistant Foreign Ministers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also with senior police officials. In each of these meeting, I raised issues related to the welfare of the Indian diaspora in Kuwait, particularly issues related to difficulties emerging out of the evolving Covid 19 pandemic situation. I requested for a full amnesty for overstaying Indian workers to return to India and also issues related to people who are stranded in India and who want to return to Kuwait at the earliest. We will continue to follow up on each of these issues and keep the community informed.
I have made ‘Covid 19 pandemic’ as one of the themes of today’s Open House. It is the single most important issue that all of us including our Indian community face today. The Covid 19 situation continues to be worrisome in everywhere including in India and in Kuwait. We need to remain cautious. In March, we had to close down the public service at the chancery premises for ten days, though we continued the emergency services. We had a few cases of Covid 19 positive cases in the Embassy last month, even today we have a few positive cases. However, we continue to monitor the situation, continue to take all precautions and is continuing the public service. Our effort is to ensure that we should not close down or slow down the work of the Embassy, its community welfare activities, its consular services both at the Embassy and at the three centers in Sharq, Fahaheel and Abassia. Please continue to use the multi-lingual feedback forms at the Embassy and at the three Passport centers. These feedback forms make a difference for us to help monitor the quality of services. We acknowledge the receipt of all feedback responses received in the Mission.
The second topic that I chose for this Open House is the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF). We continue to use the ICWF effectively as per the guidelines. We are now setting up ICWF assistance boxes at various supermarkets to collect applications from those who need assistance. The idea is to help people in need to reach directly to the Mission, bringing ICWF closer to you. These boxes will be collected daily and the Embassy will get in touch with the applicants. We will cover more details in the presentation today.
It is a fact that in the light of the prevailing Covid 19 situation in India, it is unlikely that those stranded in India would be able to return to Kuwait anytime soon. In view of this and in view of the continuing difficult situation in Kuwait, I would like to take a few new steps to address some of the major issues being faced by the community now. These steps are as follows:
- Updated Database of Stranded Indians, those who lost their jobs and those who did not get their indemnities: Preparation of an updated database of Indians who are stranded in India and are facing difficulties due to lose of jobs, expiry of residencies, inability to pay rent, close family members stranded in India, non-payment of indemnities and other benefits etc. We are starting a new registration drive with a view to share the database with the Kuwaiti authorities and request their intervention. This is a follow up of my meetings with the Kuwaiti authorities. Many people have benefited in recent months. I should not give any false hope to anyone, but at the same time I should take all steps that could help those who face difficulties.
- Free Tele consultations by our Medical Doctors: I am happy announce that our Medical Doctors have come forward to start free tele consultations to those facing difficulties. We will soon release the names and details of the doctors along with their contact numbers and timings. I thank the Indian Doctors Forum (IDF) for this initiative. IDF has always been at the forefront of giving such community service to all.
- Food Distribution by ICSG: The Indian Community Support Group (ICSG) that the Embassy set up last year has launched its distribution of food materials. Special food kits are being distributed by ICSG. All those in need are advised to get in touch with ICSG or any of the Indian associations in Kuwait. I thank the ICSG leadership for this initiative and also thank the many associations who are working with ICSG. Our lunch for all labourers in need program is also continuing in the Embassy.
- Special Counters at the Embassy for Registration for Vaccination: I urge all Indians in Kuwait to register for Covid 19 vaccines. We need all Indians to register for vaccines. No Indian can be left behind, we need to reach out to all Indians including domestic service workers, drivers, one and all. Everyone above sixteen years needs to register. The two counters that we opened at the Embassy premises for vaccine registration last month continues to function. Those who cannot register themselves are advised to avail the services at these counters.
- Vaccine Registration Campaign by Associations: I am also happy that many of our associations and groups have come forward to assist Indian nationals for vaccine registration. I would like to all associations to circulate messages to their members and also to reach out to all Indians in all parts of the country to register. There are so many in some parts of the country whom I cannot reach out to. Let’s together try and reach out to them.
- Registration for those without Civil IDs: I urge those without Civil IDs or without proper documents also to come forward and register with the Embassy. We are working with the authorities to ensure that all Indians get vaccinated, including those without Civil IDs.
- Legal Assistance for those in need: We continue to have our legal assistance desk on every Saturday at the Embassy. I thank the services of our lawyers for Indian Lawyers Forum. Please avail their services.
- Medical Assistance for those in need: The Embassy continues to extend assistance to those who need medical support. Many are availing these services. Please come forward and avail this support.
- Covid 19 Awareness campaign: We are continuing our campaign on Covid 19 in coordination with Indian Doctors Forum and various associations.
We are all aware of the developments related to CBSE examinations and other examinations like JEE, NEET etc. We will continue to follow up with authorities on each of these examinations, depending on the evolving Covid 19 situation.
We will also continue to celebrate our 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with Kuwait and also 75th anniversary of our independence, though various cultural events virtually. We will also continue to hold business events and interaction to build our relationship with Kuwait. Please continue to share your suggestions and ideas to us.
Before I conclude, I would like to welcome Shri Kamal Singh Rathore, First Secretary for Community Affairs in the Mission. He will be in charge of Community Affairs and Associations including all death cases and death compensation cases. I would request all associations to remain in touch with him. We have also issuing a Google sheet for updating information on all associations registered with the Embassy.
We will now have a presentation by Shri Fahad Suri, First Secretary and Spokesperson of the Embassy on what we did during March 2021 and suggestions and also will answer your questions.