“Harmony Unleashed: SALAM’s Pioneering Symposium Embarks on the Quest for Asian Labour Markets”

Attention India
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2nd June 2023, Mumbai: In the bustling city of Mumbai, India, the vibrant corridors of the International Institute for Population Science (IIPS) came alive as they played host to a groundbreaking gathering.  This remarkable event bore the collaborative spirit of three United Nations agencies and esteemed institutions hailing from seven nations. Over the course of three captivating days, this convergence of brilliance enticed an illustrious congregation of distinguished individuals, drawn from both local and international realms.

SALAM Conference details

Professor K. C. Das, the Convener of SALAM and Head of the Department of Migration & Urban Studies at IIPS, warmly welcomed the attendees and provided an overview of the conference’s structure, which included plenary, poster, and technical sessions. The formal inauguration commenced with an address by Professor K.S. James, Director and Senior Professor at IIPS. In his speech, Professor James emphasized the importance of studying labour migration from a multidisciplinary perspective, particularly considering the rapid changes occurring in demography and the field of labour migration. Mr. Dino Corell, a Labour Migration Specialist from the International Labour Organization (ILO), delivered the keynote address. He commended the SALAM Centre for facilitating the gathering of experts, researchers, and academicians to share knowledge and promote evidence-based migration governance in South Asia. Mr. Corell acknowledged the challenges associated with labour migration, such as displacement, forced migration, trafficking, and health hazards. However, he emphasized that these issues could be effectively addressed through proper governance frameworks, which the SALAM Centre aims to develop.

Protecting Migrants

The chief guest, Sri J. K. Banthia (IAS), former Chief Secretary of the Government of Maharashtra, stressed the need for a centre like SALAM to enhance capacity building and formulate evidence-based policies to protect the rights of migrants in South Asia. He highlighted the significant contributions made by migrants to the development of Mumbai and underlined the importance of understanding the historical context of migration trajectories. Mr. Banthia also discussed post-COVID-19 efforts by the central and state governments, citing eShram as a notable example. Recognizing the critical issue of identity for migrants and their lack of documentation, he mentioned the government’s steps to provide relief in this regard, although the complete resolution of documentation-related challenges may take time.

The inaugural session featured several other distinguished speakers, including experts from organizations such as RMMRU, ILO, IPS, SDPI, CESLAM, UN Women, IIMAD, and JNU. Throughout the three-day conference, over 120 researchers from various Indian states and countries worldwide will present their papers on different themes related to labour and sustainable development in Asia. The event promises to be a platform for fruitful discussions, knowledge exchange, and the formulation of strategies to tackle the challenges and harness the opportunities presented by labour migration in the region.

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