Germany-India Hold Dialogue on Skilled Labour Migration

At the initiative of the German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), GIZ India organized a Dialogue on Skilled Labour Migration, in New Delhi on 30 November 2012.

Germany-India Hold Dialogue on Skilled Labour Migration

The dialogue was well attended by representatives of Government of India, German Embassy, industry associations, academics, NGOs and persons of Indian origin who had studied worked and lived in Germany but had now opted to return to India.

Speaking at the occasion, Atul Kumar Tiwari, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, remarked, “This is the first time any government has come forward to proactively engage with the Government of India on the issue of skilled labour migration from India.” 

India has possibly the highest remittance in the world (approx. $ 65 billion in 2011) from its diaspora abroad. Joint Secretary Tiwari pointed out that a "human resource mobility partnership" was under consideration between India and Germany. He said that while not much is currently known about Germany in India, it was the policy of India that any skilled labour migration must be “legal, orderly and secular while upholding the right to migrate of an individual.”

Dominik Ziller, Director, Directorate for Migration from the GIZ office in Bonn informed the gathering that this event was part of a multi-lateral dialogue series that has taken place in Georgia, Armenia, Columbia, Vietnam, Morocco and Tunisia. The German Government was interested in filling an anticipated shortfall in skilled labour in the near future. The dialogue in India aimed to shed light on the issue of skilled labour migration from the national perspective and to identify measures to promote the positive effects of skilled labour migration between India and Germany. The synthesis of these dialogues is to be presented at an event in Berlin in mid-December.

A panel discussion on the topic was moderated by Anil Padmanabhan, Deputy Managing Editor, Mint with Professor Dr. Dipankar Gupta, formerly at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Revathi Jayaram, Consultant and Returning Expert at Mobility India, Dr. Rajat Kathuria, Director and Chief Executive, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Guido Christ, Deputy Director General, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, as discussants.

Professor Gupta emphasised on the importance in India of investing in institutions and lamented the client-patron work culture in India. Ms Revathi Jayaram stated that her experience of working in Germany was now helping her in setting higher standards in her current work on disability. Dr. Kathuria pointed out there was need for domestic reform of labour markets and policy before engaging with the needs of other countries. Christ was critical of the skills levels available in India and described the rigorous process that a person had to undergo in Germany before being considered ‘skilled’.

The dialogue addressed India’s experience with regard to skilled labour migration to other countries, and the national perspective on whether skilled labour migration is seen as an opportunity or a risk. It aimed to explore the ways through which triple-win could be achieved i.e. win for the country of origin, country of destination besides the person migrating. It was felt that the economic and social development benefits of skilled labour migration from India could be enhanced in a targeted manner.

A short documentary film 'From India to Germany and Back: Reflections on Skilled Labour Migration' was also screened at the occasion.