1. How is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacting India’s diaspora? What measures have been taken by the Government to help the distressed diaspora? Examine.
COVID-19 महामारी प्रवासी भारतीयों को कैसे प्रभावित कर रही है? संकटग्रस्त लोगों की मदद के लिए सरकार ने क्या उपाय किए हैं? जांच करें।
Demand of the question:
It expects candidates to write about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Indian diasporas worldwide. It also expects to write about the steps taken by the Indian government to help the distressed diasporas.
For a nation, which prides itself on having a diaspora empire on which the sun never sets, the present global pandemic is a reminder of the trials and tribulations of past empires, which crumbled under the weight of their own wealth, glory and responsibilities.
The Indian diaspora has been a source of remittances, technology and intellectual power. Ever since the Indian economy was liberalised and began to grow at a rapid pace, the prosperous diaspora in the developed countries and the massive number of migrant workers in the Gulf became the back bone of the Indian economy.
- Covid-19 has put to the test the seriousness of the pledge of assistance and protection made by the government to every Indian abroad.
- The government shut down Indian skies to all inbound traffic on March 22, which left a large number of Indians stranded in various countries. The stranded Indians included employees working in MNC’s, students went to study in abroad, migrant workers in the regions of gulf, and tourists including medical tourists and occasional visitors.
- Indians stranded abroad stared at the bleak possibility of not returning home.
- They faced evictions from hostels and hotels in certain cases due to safety measures as well as financial constraints.
- The events that followed gave the impression that the administration has a discriminatory approach towards its citizens in need overseas.
- Air India signed a contract with the four countries – Germany, Canada, France and Ireland. The contract said that Air India would return safely the citizens of four countries. But it opted to fly back empty instead of ferrying back Indians, which left everyone with a sense of betrayal.
- Added to this is the real danger of loss of lives among the diaspora, resulting in cases of deprivation and misery. Unless the spread of Coronavirus is halted and the world economy recovers, India will have a gigantic burden on its hands.
- With the growth of nationalism in different parts of the world and diminishing international cooperation, India cannot count much on external help. The United Nations itself remains paralysed on account of the arrogant approach of China. Kerala will be particularly affected as many of the people who are likely to be affected will be from the state.
- As nearly 17.5 million people of Indians live abroad, the job loss led to weakening of their financial books, in turn unfolding survival problems in front of them.
- Hunger fight: As many of the people have lost jobs due to COVID-19 induced lockdown, it led to weak financial conditions of people. Which led to be dependent on the relatives or at help of the NGO’s and Civil Society organisations.
- Large amount of remittance flow stopped due to job loss.
- Many of the stranded Indian failed to get quick medical attention in the countries where they are stuck. Leading to risk of loss of lives.
- Students faced evacuation from the Universities under the reasons of noncompliance of Online education in their education curriculum. For instance, USA initiated such process.
- In the case of stranded Indians, even the Supreme Court of India said, “stay where you’re” in an observation while dealing with the plea seeking directions to the government to initiate evacuation missions.
However, In 2017, then External Affairs Minister of India said, “Even if you are stuck on Mars, the Indian Embassy will be there to help you”. It was based on the glorious track record of 30-plus successful overseas evacuations by the government since Independence. Following such events ‘Samudra setu’ and ‘Vande Bharat’ mission has been launched to bring back stranded Indians:
- Vande Bharat Mission is the biggest evacuation exercise to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad amidst the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.
- It is also considered as the largest exercise to bring back Indian citizens since the evacuation of 177,000 from the Gulf region in the early 1990s at the start of hostilities between Iraq and Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
- The mission has given priority to Indian citizens with “compelling reasons to return” – like those whose employment have been terminated, those whose visas have expired and not expected to be renewed under the present circumstances and those who have lost family members in recent times.
- The program named Samudra Setu by Indian navy entails to bring back around two thousand Indians in two ships during the first phase of evacuation.
- INS Jalashwa and INS Magar are being operated as part of efforts to repatriate Indian nationals from foreign shores.
According to Global Migration Report 2020, India continues to be the largest country of origin of international migrants with a 17.5 million-strong diaspora across the world, and it received the highest remittance of $78.6 billion (this amounts to a whopping 3.4% of India’s GDP) from Indians living abroad. Hence, it becomes important protect and take care of the interest of the Indian diaspora living abroad.