India to expand ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to evacuate 67,000 stranded students from abroad

09 May 2020

Hindustan Times

Action: India will expand its mega mission to evacuate stranded Indian students from abroad by including countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Germany, Spain, and Thailand.

The Ministry of External Affairs has developed an online platform on which requests received by Indian missions from Indian nationals wishing to return are regularly being uploaded. In the first phase of the evacuation, a total number of 27 flights will bring back Indians from the Gulf region. This included 11 flights from the United Arab Emirates, five from Saudi Arab, five from Kuwait, and two from Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman. Similarly, 14 flights will evacuate stranded Indians from South-East Asia. Of these flights, five each are from Singapore and the Philippines and four from Malaysia. In the first phase of the mission, seven flights will take off from four airports in the US—New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and San Francisco. Another seven flights will bring back Indians from London.

Indian students booked on outbound Air India flights need a permit from relevant Singapore agency

09 May 2020

The Times of India

Action: These measures were not aimed at Indian students specifically, rather included nationals, of all countries, with a work or a long-term pass

Singapore bound Indian students on Air India repatriation flights should obtain the relevant Singapore agency’s permission before entering or returning to Singapore, clarified Singapore consulate. However, the Air India official’s information was inaccurate as there has been no change to Singapore visa regulations. A similar confusion had erupted with regards to students who held a US visa. Further, Air India issued an advisory on the three conditions under which passengers with F and M US visa may not be allowed to board Air India flight.

COVID-19 lockdown: The first batch of 168 Indian students stranded in Bangladesh leaves for home

08 May 2020

The New Indian Express

Action: The High Commission of India in Bangladesh launched a dedicated link on its website for the registration for Indians wishing to return to India.

The first batch of 168 Indian students, stranded in Bangladesh due to the coronavirus-linked global travel restrictions, retuned on a special Air India flight. More such flights are being arranged by the authorities to facilitate other Indians as part of the Operation ‘Vande Bharat—A homecoming’, India’s massive repatriation operation to bring home its citizens stranded abroad. The Indian High Commission thanked the college authorities for the support.

UK universities reach out to Indian students for COVID-19 support

07 May 2020

Hindustan Times

Action: UK universities have urged distressed Indian students—in the country or in India—to get in touch with their varsity support services for help or guidance during the coronavirus related lockdown.

The support offered by universities includes delivering food to students, providing hardship funds for students in financial difficulty, waiving accommodation fees, or moving international students into accommodation where they can look after them by providing cleaning, security, and catering. Universities are also providing pastoral and mental health support. The University of Bath has moved all students in university-owned accommodation around the city into campus accommodation and is providing three free meals a day to all students who remain on campus. It has also enhanced the availability of financial assistance to students who find themselves in hardship.

Dreams becoming nightmares: Plight of Indian students in the US during the pandemic

07 May 2020

English Mathrubhumi

Action: For Indian students and parents, the prudent strategy would be a wait—perhaps a long wait—and careful observation about the recovery of the Indian economy.

The plight of over 200,000 students from India studying in the U.S is greatly affected by the Coronavirus affliction. Established Indian professionals in the U.S. and many community-based organizations of Indian origin have not come forward to address the needs of Indian students in the U.S., as they scramble to find clarity amid this confusing pandemic. The administration is anxious to kick start the economic engine and thrust the nation to its economy to go past the previous pre-virus heights.

Astronaut Sunita Williams does live session with Indian students stranded abroad, compares the situation to living in spacecraft

05 May 2020

Edex Live

Action: Organised by the Embassy of India Student Hub, the interaction was watched by 84,000 people on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in the first 24 hours.

Indian-American NASA astronaut Sunita Williams has advised Indian students, stranded in the US due to the coronavirus-linked global travel restrictions, to use the occasion to think how they could be a productive and positive addition to the society. During a virtual interaction, she compared the Indian students’ experience to her being in space in a spacecraft where one doesn’t get to go and visit their family and friends with a real hug. She joined the live session virtually from her kitchen in Houston, where she is undergoing training for another human spaceflight in 2021. During the interaction, Williams stated how everyone could achieve something significant right now.



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