Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations

India to Chair ‘Colombo Process’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Colombo Process

Why in the News?

India has become chair of the regional grouping “Colombo Process” for the first time since its inception in 2003.

What is the Colombo Process?

  • The Colombo Process, established on March 19, 2003, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is a regional consultative initiative addressing challenges faced by migrant workers from South and Southeast Asia.
  • Objective:
    • Primary Goal: The Colombo Process aims to enhance the management of contractual labour migration from Asian countries.
    • Focus: It seeks to safeguard the rights and welfare of migrant workers while maximizing the benefits of labour migration for both sending and receiving countries.
  • The Process is non-binding and decision-making is by consensus.


  • Initial Composition: Initially comprising 11 member countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Expansion: The Process has since expanded to include additional countries like Cambodia and Myanmar.

Five Thematic Area Working Groups (TAWGs) i.e. 

  1. Skills and Qualification Recognition (chaired by Sri Lanka);
  2. Fostering Ethical Recruitment (chaired by Bangladesh);
  3. Pre-Departure Orientation and Empowerment (chaired by the Philippines);
  4. Remittances (chaired by Pakistan) and
  5. Labour Market Analysis (chaired by Thailand).

Key Focus Areas:

  • Policy Development: Addressing various aspects of labour migration, including policy development, capacity building, data collection, and sharing best practices.
  • Rights Protection: Ensuring the protection of migrant workers’ rights, skills recognition, ethical recruitment, and combating human trafficking and irregular migration.

Activities and Initiatives:

  • Dialogue Platforms: Regular meetings, conferences, and workshops serve as platforms for dialogue and cooperation among member countries.
  • Guidelines and Toolkits: Development of guidelines, toolkits, and policy frameworks to assist member countries in effectively managing labour migration.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration with international organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement joint initiatives and projects.


[2022] ‘India is an age-old friend of Sri Lanka.’ Discuss India’s role in the recent crisis in Sri Lanka in light of the preceding statement.

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