Vande Bharat Mission brings respite, to Indian students overseas

Too many takers for too few seats as Air India gets into rescue mode again

Diaspora

May 16, 2020

/ By / Chennai



Vande Bharat Mission

Air India has once again played a pivotal role in rescuing Indian nationals stranded abroad

Though belatedly, the Indian government has moved to help bring back some of the Indians who got stranded overseas. To be meaningful, much more needs to be done.

For thousands of Indian students studying in France, and currently stranded over there due to the Coronavirus pandemic, May 26 and May 27 are crucial dates. For it is on these two dates that, after a gap of over 64 days an Air India Dreamliner would take off from the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

The students are not alone in awaiting these two dates. There are hundreds of other Indians who were caught unawares by the sudden closure of Indian airports to international flights on March 22 as the government began to mount an aggressive lockdown in the uphill battle against coronavirus pandemic. All those who want to return to India have been asked to register with the local mission which would decide on who would be given the right to travel, based on the urgency of the request for repatriation. 

Passengers to be brought back are being selected depending on the urgency of their situation with preference being given to migrant workers without jobs, pregnant women, travellers with expired visas and people needing medical help.

However, there is a catch. The two flights can carry only around 486 passengers, making it more likely that one could win a lottery than taking the flight. This uncertainty is not limited to France as number of Indians living overseas is over 30 million, making it impossible for any government to bring back all of them.

The flights from France are in the second phase of the Vande Bharat Mission that will start from May 22. This week-long phase would involve a total of 149 flights from 31 nations, expected to carry nearly 30,000 Indians home. 

The first phase of the “Vande Bharat Mission’, which began on May 7, brought over 15,000 Indians from 12 countries back home. The countries in the first phase included the US, the UK, the UAE, Oman, Singapore, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Philippines and Malaysia. Besides France, the second phase will cover Russia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Tajikstan, Ukraine, Australia, Canada and Germany. The new countries on the list are in addition to the ones included in the first phase.

The second phase will see Kerala receive 31 flights, including feeder flights, coming in from the Gulf countries, Russia, Australia, UK, the US, Italy, France, the US and Philippines. “The general idea is to land people as close to their homes as possible so that quarantine and travel is not difficult. The government is making use of feeder flights to help it plan better,” an official of the Ministry of External Affairs has been quoted as saying. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Avatar Kavita deshmukh says:

    Lots indian are stuck in DRC AFRICA also pls help them my husband also there from last 4 month

    1. Avatar Varsha Singh says:

      Have you contacted the MEA or the Indian Mission in DRC?

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