DUBAI // A short film that explains how expatriates' savings can benefit their families is prompting labourers join a pension scheme.
The programme has been launched by the Indian government for blue-collar workers.
Standing under a banyan tree, microphone in hand, an actress playing a reporter, Divya, talks to villagers and enters people's homes asking after their relatives working in the Arabian Gulf.
"The girl talks about less tension for the family and how good it is to save," said A Yadav, an electrician who enrolled this week. "There are no guarantees about our job so there is always tension.
"Whatever I earn, I send to pay for my house and my children's education. Plus, this is a government scheme so they will not run away with our money. Some savings may be good for us."
Mr Yadav and his younger brother were among 200 workers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to sign up during a soft launch this week.
Bank officials expect thousands to come forward as word spreads about the Pension and Life Insurance Fund for Overseas Indian Workers.
Workers will contribute a minimum of 5,000 Indian rupees (Dh305) a year, with the ministry of overseas Indian affairs contributing 2,000 rupees a year for men and 3,000 rupees for women to give them annual savings of 7,000 and 8,000 rupees.
Aimed at semi-skilled and unskilled workers, the plan also provides free life insurance cover.
Those eligible are Indian workers who have not passed Grade 10 and have an "emigration check required"' stamp on their passports.
"The groundwork has started and there will need to be a lot more awareness for workers to come forward," said MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador. "The main idea is to inculcate the habit of saving."
After men returned from worksites at several camps this week, leaflets were distributed and projectors set up to screen the movie.
Common concerns raised were about what might happen to the the funds in case of their death.
"We explain that they can nominate three people, and try to impart that they may not be able to buy gold or land but by saving 417 rupees every month, they can change their life forever," said an official from the programme.
Follow-up visits are required since most workers did not have passports with them, or the copies required for enrolment.
"It would certainly require a lot of work to develop positive interest in the workers so that the number of enrolments will be impressive," said KV Rama Moorthy, the chief executive of the Bank of Baroda's GCC operations in Dubai.
The bank is one of three appointed by the Indian government to facilitate the scheme.
"This will be their safety net when they go back," said Kiran VJ, manager with the Bank of Travancore in Dubai.
The scheme is the first overseas pension plan and was approved by the Indian government in January.
Bank officials believe more than a million people in the UAE could benefit.