New Delhi: India on Tuesday urged the Gulf countries to facilitate the return of Indian workers and professionals who are now eager to resume their work following the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions.

The issue figured at a virtual meeting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a leading regional organization comprising almost all Arab countries.

In the meeting, Jaishankar assured the Gulf nations on continuing the supply of food, medicines, and essential items from India.

The Ministry of External Affairs said Jaishankar thanked the GCC countries for taking care of the large Indian diaspora during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The External Affairs Minister mentioned that a large number of Indian workers and professionals are now eager to return to the GCC countries to resume their work.

"He urged the GCC leadership to facilitate their return through sustainable travel bubble arrangements with India," the MEA said.

Thousands of Indians had returned home from the Gulf region in the last few months following the coronavirus pandemic.

The MEA said the leaders also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.

While the Indian delegation was led by Jaishankar, the GCC was represented by Secretary-General of GCC Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf, Foreign Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and Foreign Minister of UAE Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash.

Senior representatives from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar also participated in the meeting.

"They agreed that the India-GCC partnership in political, economic, and other domains would be further strengthened. The GCC welcomed India's inclusion in the UNSC as a non-permanent member from January 2021," the MEA said.

"Both sides affirmed their commitment to reform multilateral institutions to reflect the realities of the 21st century and to work together to address contemporary challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, sustainable development, and terrorism," it added.

In a series of tweets, Jaishankar said that continuing the flow of food, medicines and essential items were assured to the Gulf region.

The MEA said Jaishankar also apprised the GCC leaders about the progress made by India in vaccine development as well as in the development and manufacturing of diagnostic and other equipment related to COVID-19.

"Both sides reaffirmed that they will continue to work together to tackle COVID-19 situation," it said.

Jaishankar also apprised the GCC leaders of the improving situation in India, both on the health and the economic side.

He hoped for an early return to trade normalcy between India and the GCC.

India had ensured that the supply chains from India to the Gulf were not disrupted despite the lockdowns during the pandemic.


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Bengaluru, Nov 30: An internal assessment of the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens called 'Sakala' has put Mandya on the top while Bengaluru Urban stood last among the districts in providing services to people within the stipulated time.

Launched in April 2012, there are presently 1025 services related to 98 departments guaranteed under the Sakala scheme which are provided to the applicants within the time limit.

Eight years after the launch of the scheme, the Sakala department carried out the assessment of its performance.

The assessment revealed that 22.92 crore applications were received since the launch of the scheme, out of which 22.85 crore applications were disposed of.

Based on the number of applications received and disposed of, the department came out with the ranking.

Announcing the ranking, Karnataka Minister for Sakala, S Suresh Kumar told reporters on Monday that Mandya, Chikkamagaluru and Chikkaballapura are among the top three districts in providing services under the Sakala scheme within the time limit.

On the other hand, Bengaluru urban, Bidar and Raichur are among the least ranked districts in providing services.

"This assessment provides an opportunity to the respective districts to improve their citizen-oriented services," Kumar, who also holds the primary and secondary education portfolio, said.

The rankings were announced as the state launched the Sakala week during which period, the departments will have to create awareness among masses.

The Minister cited three reasons for the poor performance of Sakala, which are not accepting the applications, rejection of applications and delay in providing the service.

He said people do not know that there are appellants in each department where people can approach and appeal against the rejection and delay in providing services.

Kumar directed the deputy commissioners of the district to conduct a meeting of the Sakala Coordination Committees to analyse the performance of Sakala scheme.