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Resolve crisis of students back from China & Ukraine mid-course, House panel tells MEA 

Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs says it is 'deeply concerned' as students have neither been able to return to China & Ukraine nor complete their training in India.

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New Delhi: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs has directed the central government to immediately resolve the crisis concerning Indian students who returned from China and Ukraine because of the Covid lockdown and the Russia-Ukraine war, respectively, and have since been unable to return or find accommodation in Indian universities.

The committee said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” as thousands of students pursuing medical and other courses in Ukraine and China have neither been able to return to the two countries to rejoin their universities nor complete their training in India.

“The committee is deeply concerned about the plight of thousands of Indian students pursuing medical and other courses in Ukraine and China, who could not return back to these countries due to closure of their universities,” the committee said. “These students have been left in a quandary as they could not rejoin their courses physically or complete their internship or training in India.” 

It also asked the MEA to follow up with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) over a proposal to allow Indian private medical institutions to enrol the students who returned from Ukraine in their institutions on a “one-time exemption basis”.

“The committee has urged the ministry to pursue the matter with the MoHFW vigorously as this step alone may solve the current crisis being faced by the students enrolled in Ukrainian universities and enable them to complete their courses,” the committee said. 

Indian students who came back from Ukraine as the war intensified have been protesting for the past couple of months as the National Medical Commission is yet to announce a decision on accommodating them in Indian medical colleges.

The committee said that the MEA should also draw up a list of the students who came back from China in 2020 — just as the Covid pandemic began. The MEA should ensure that the students return, through “continuous interaction with the Chinese authorities at the highest level” with appropriate Covid health protocols in place, the committee said.

The MEA had said in April that students could go back to China to finish their courses provided Beijing granted them permission on a “need-assessed basis”.

In June, China partially lifted its two-year strict visa restrictions for Indians but students remain stuck.

 “Keeping in view the fact that China has nearly 5 lakh foreign students from various countries, the committee has urged the MEA to get in touch with the embassies of other countries so that coordinated efforts are made to facilitate the return of such students to China for resumption of their in-person classes,” the committee said in the report.

Also Read: ‘NEET not an option’ — Medical students back from Ukraine seek road map from NMC to resume course

Return of workers 

According to the standing committee, 8,25,000 Indian workers have returned from all over the world under the Vande Bharat Mission, the government initiative to bring back Indians stranded in different countries on account of Covid.

Out of this, some have gone back and resumed their work in the Gulf countries but the majority of them are still stuck in India, the report said. 

“The committee views the welfare of Indian workers and the issue of their employment/livelihood seriously and has urged the ministry to make all-out efforts to ensure the expeditious return of the remaining workers to their destination countries by vigorously pursuing the matter with the respective countries at the highest level,” it said.

The committee added: “The MEA may also facilitate new recruitment for such workers and the Indian missions/posts may take up the issue of realisation of payments due to them on priority.”

‘No clear-cut policy on diaspora’

Among other things, the committee observed that the ministry does not have a “clear-cut policy” on India’s vast diaspora.

“The committee is surprised that a clear-cut policy on its diaspora is yet to be drafted by the government despite having a huge diaspora playing a very important role in the socio-economic development of their home country,” it said.

It added, “In view of the government’s evolving policy in relation to its diaspora, the committee has desired that the ministry should bring out a policy document on its diaspora to serve as a guiding principle for deeper and wider engagement with the diaspora community with an objective that all involved in the process of diaspora affairs may work in tandem to achieve the objectives set in this regard.”

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: Small town India’s aspiring doctors, now trapped in war zone: Why students chose Ukraine


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