BY FAKIR BALAJI
Bengaluru–The Karnataka government is bracing to bail out hundreds of Kannadigas living abroad but who now want to return to their home state, as they are in distress due to the coronavirus pandemic fallout, a state minister said on Wednesday.
“Hundreds of overseas or non-resident Kannadigas (NRKs) reached out to us through voice and video calls, emails, relatives and friends, expressing readiness to return to their home state, as the situation in the countries they are working in is grim after the Covid-19 outbreak,” Minister for Tourism, Kannada and Culture C.T. Ravi told IANS in an e-mail statement.
The ‘SOS’ calls from NRKs in the US, Europe, Africa, Gulf region and Australia during the last couple of weeks have made the state government to set up a special cell in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) to facilitate their return at the earliest.
“We have set up a dedicated website, app and are in the process of setting up a 24×7 helpline to assist Kannadigas wanting to relocate and resettle in their home state after the Coivd crisis ends and normalcy is restored,” said Ravi.
The state is, however, focusing on the early return of the Kannadigas who have been stranded in various countries since March 23 when international flights were suspended and nationwide lockdown clamped since March 24 midnight and extended twice since up to May 17.
“As our priority is to first rescue about 10,500 Kannadigas stranded the world over, we are coordinating with the Ministry of Civil Aviation for their safe passage to Bengaluru or Mangaluru from Friday onwards,” said Ravi.
Following a videoconference call between Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa with 55 Kannadiga organisations in 34 countries on May 2 on “reverse brain drain”, the state has sought the help of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to facilitate the return of NRKs through Indian embassies, high commissions and their consulates in countries where more Kannadigas are working, studying, or living as NRIs.
“As Covid pandemic devastated economies of many countries, including the US, Germany, France, UK and the Gulf region, hundreds of Kannadigas working as professionals (white collar jobs) don’t want to stay or live in those countries any more but return to India and their home state due to uncertainty of jobs, future of their children and their families or relatives back home,” Ravi pointed out.
As hundreds of NRKs in Dubai, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain have also lost their blue-collar jobs due to the collapse of the oil economy and Covid crisis, they are desperate to return home at the earliest.
“The NRKs are asking for admission in schools and colleges for their children, housing sites to build homes and opportunities to invest in the state so that they could be self-employed and also create jobs for fellow Kannadigas or others,” noted Ravi.
Similarly, hundreds of students from the southern state, who are studying in Australia, have urged Yediyurappa to get their visas extended and education fee waived so that they could complete their studies and return home as they are also unsure of getting jobs as expats in the post-Covid times. (IANS)