Abdul Raoof Pallipparambil, a financial adviser passionate about social work, is making a difference in society by spreading awareness of government schemes in India and promoting financial literacy among Indian expatriates.
Better known as Raoof Kondotty, he is a familiar face in discussions about welfare schemes offered by India’s central and state governments. He has 400 seminars to his credit and also volunteers with various organisations to raise awareness and help the needy benefit from such schemes. These are in addition to regularly attending TV and radio programmes and writing for newspapers.
Raoof is usually busy holding awareness seminars and discussions, preparing notes, sharing expert opinions and monitoring schemes meant for expatriates’ welfare.
“Expatriates in India often allege a raw deal from the authorities back home instead of benefiting from the existing schemes. I did an initial study in 2014-2015 and found that the utilisation rate of expatriate welfare funds was very poor. I found a lack of resource persons whom the needy could approach to get guidance while applying for government assistance. I then decided to intervene and various organisations helped me reach the expatriates while making them aware of the issue,” Raoof said.
He informed that the utilisation rate of funds offered through some schemes by the Kerala state government in India, for instance, reached 96% following intensive awareness campaigns.
If a scheme is announced and the draft is prepared, Raoof volunteers to keep a close watch on the same and come up with suggestions. When the scheme is launched, he understands the mechanism of how to avail of it and prepares a note that is shared in seminars and through his social media accounts, where the messages are circulated among thousands.
“Completing the application for assistance is quite simple,” he said. But lack of awareness prevents people from doing so and this often leads to the wrong notion that accessing government schemes is a tough job, he added.
Raoof attends several calls a day from early in the morning, talking to expatriates about the steps involved in making various applications or securing certificates. What he gets in return are ‘thank you’ calls or voice messages from people, noting that their requirements were fairly met.
Raoof has a habit of carefully monitoring anything that is announced by the central and state governments in India for the welfare of the Indian diaspora. Sources in miniseries and government departments often help him obtain data related to various schemes. “I study the proposed bills and make my suggestions. Also, I listen to what transpires at the sessions of the Indian Parliament and state assemblies when discussions are held or issues are raised about expatriate welfare. Anything related to expat welfare enthuses me,” he said.
Raoof’s passion for service was instilled in the 1980s when his father Ahmed Kutty wanted his children to help local residents fill up applications for ration cards and school admission.
A schoolteacher at Thurakkal village in Malappuram district of Kerala, Raoof’s father also worked as an Imam in a nearby mosque and as a teacher at a madrasa. “He wanted to make a change while helping people. I started to learn from him while I was 10 years old,” he recalled.
Raoof is also an expert on Qatar’s labour law and has completed various online courses from the International Organisation for Migration, International Labour Organisation and World Bank. An expert on the Global Compact for Migration, he has actively pursued issues faced by air passengers and spread awareness about Customs rules and passenger compensations while giving inputs for government budgets on expatriate welfare.
Participating in activities of organisations affiliated to the Indian embassy in Qatar, he has received several recognitions. These include Best Social Worker Award in the Indian community, a special appreciation award from the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (Norka) department of the Kerala government, Best Social Worker Award in the Kerala community and Best Expat Welfare Activist award by the Global Educational Organisation.
He is a member of Loka Kerala Sabha and the Indian Community Benevolent Forum sub-committee for insurance, a convener of the Norka helpline in Qatar, country head of Pravasi Legal Cell and organising secretary of the Gulf Air Passengers’ Association.