Vande Bharat Mission and International Cooperation – All India Radio (AIR) IAS UPSC

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  • June 3, 2020
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Vande Bharat Mission and International Cooperation

Search 10th May, 2020 Spotlight here: http://www.newsonair.com/Main_Audio_Bulletins_Search.aspx 

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

In News: India has embarked on a massive operation involving naval ships and aircraft in a phased manner to bring back some of the hundreds of thousands of nationals stuck abroad due to coronavirus restrictions.

Vandhe Bharat mission is the massive repatriation operation planned by the Indian government to bring back stranded Indians in different parts of the world in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

This airlift by the MEA would be the largest since the Persian Gulf War evacuation of over 170,000 people from Kuwait in 1990. Similar evacuations were also seen in April 2015, when Operation Raahat was launched to evacuate Indians from war-torn Yemen.

  • Citizens in distress will be brought back on commercial aircraft and naval ships based on lists prepared by the India’s embassies. Over ten lakhs Indians are expected to return home, and more than two lakhs are from the UAE alone.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs has developed a dynamic online platform on which requests received by Indian Missions from Indian nationals wishing to return are regularly being uploaded.
  • Following arrival, all Indian citizens will have to spend the mandatory quarantine period in a government facility to avoid spread of COVID-19.

Operation Samudra Setu

  • India has dispatched four Naval ships as part of the first phase of Vande Bharat mission. 
  • Indian Navy’s INS Jalashwa and INS Magar are operating to bring back Indian citizens from Maldives while INS Shardul and INS Airavat set sail to the UAE.

Bringing back in Phases

The Criteria: Those who fit the parameters include people facing deportation, migrant workers who have been laid off, short-term visa holders, people with medical emergencies, pregnant women, elderly persons, a person who has lost a near one, tourists and students whose colleges and hostels are shut.

Phase I: In the first phase that started on May 7, more than 60 “non-scheduled, commercial” flights will operate from about 12 countries to bring back 15,000 citizens. 

Phase II: The second phase of the Vandhe Bharat mission in the third week of May is expected to cover Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Spain and east Europe. This, however, doesn’t include OCI cardholders, but only Indian citizens — that is, those with an Indian passport.

Issues being faced by OCI Card holders

An OCI card allows its holder a multiple-entry, multipurpose lifelong visa to India. But a week before the nationwide lockdown came into force on 24 March, the Narendra Modi government suspended all international travel as well as the visa-free travel facility granted to OCI cardholders. The visas of all OCI cardholders have since continued to remain suspended.

The return of people to India is based on priority. First, Indian citizens stranded abroad will be brought back and then eventually the service will be extended to OCI holders in the times to come

Operational Issues Faced

  • Confusion around the email ID from which the mails were received
  • Non-responsive payment gateway
  • Lack of social distancing norms in place while travelling
  • Understaffed Indian embassies

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Essay: The biggest evacuation since the first Gulf War

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