By Dr. Vinusha Reddy
“Life of every Indian is precious. Entire government machinery is working round the clock to ensure the safety and security of all Indians in Ukraine” PM Narendra Modi.
Modi government has ensured the safety of Indians anywhere in the world, any time and under any circumstances. Union government has attained the expertise and mastered the nuances of evacuating Indians from conflicted areas across world. Modi government has achieved this through the fine balancing of relations internationally with various countries, establishing firm position of India globally and proper utilization of all available resources.
The Russia-Ukraine War
The Tragedy of war is it uses man’s best to do man’s worst. War that started on Feb24th 2022 between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in a lot of collateral damage. Within a few days span several crores of people are facing unprecedented grave situation in Ukraine including people of Ukraine and other countries. People in Ukraine are facing a really tough and scary situation unable to have easy access to transport, daily essentials and even food in some places. Air and land routes have been under siege. Ukrainian air space was closed since February 24 ,2022.
Ukraine has around 80000 citizens from several nations. All of them also are facing dire consequences. Allegedly international citizens are facing hostility from local Ukraine citizens. Allegedly in some places Ukraine was not allowing Indian citizens to cross border or providing basic needs and food. Various countries have adapted different mechanisms to help their respective citizens.
Measures by China, USA, UK and Germany
China, USA, UK and Germany have declared that the conditions in Ukraine are too precarious and unsafe to undertake evacuation of citizens. China has issued no travel advisories, no support measures and no contact numbers. China citizens were advised not to display China flags. China requested citizens to not to enter any altercation with local Ukrainian citizens after claims of rising hostility towards Chinese citizens. USA asked its citizens to follow Ukraine advisories and remain in caution for active combat, crime and civil unrest. USA asked its citizens to depart from Ukraine using commercial or privately owned transport means. British nationals were told not to expect consular support. British Embassy office in Kyiv was relocated to Lviv. German embassy in Kyiv was closed. Germany requested citizens to leave Ukraine.
What India is doing?
India gave utmost priority to the safety of around 16000 Indian citizens in Ukraine. Modi government in every possible way is and was trying to assist Indian citizens.
• India took several supportive measures to help Indian citizens in Ukraine.
• PM Modi has spoken with Russian president Vladimir Putin regarding safe passage of Indians.
• India has been at front foot in issuing advisories from the beginning. Suspecting escalation of events between Russian and Ukraine Indian government on February 15th itself issued advisory to Indians to evacuate Ukraine. Nearly 2000 Indians followed the advice and returned to India. Rest believed in assurances of Ukraine government and stayed back in Ukraine.
• Indian embassy issued advisories to Indian citizens regularly. Indian government arranged helpline contact numbers and mail IDs for stranded citizens.
• Modi government undertook “Operation Ganga” to evacuate Indian citizens from Ukraine even under such unsafe and hostile circumstances.
• Central government has coordinated with states regarding the details of Indian nationals residing in Ukraine.
• India has spoken with border countries and issued advisories to Indian nationals to arrive at border countries like Romania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Buses carrying Indian nationals holding Indian flags were safely allowed to cross border. From these countries Indian citizens were airlifted to India using Air India airplanes.
• Private aircraft companies like Spice jet, Indigo and Air India Express have also become a part of Operation Ganga and sent airplanes to Budapest and Bucharest.
• As of 01-3-2022, more than 2000 Indians were air lifted from Ukraine to Indian using 9 Indian aircrafts.
• While rest of superpowers denied evacuation measures to unsafe circumstances in Ukraine, Modi government on 28-2-2022 decided to send four top Union ministers to countries bordering Ukraine to coordinate better evacuation of Indian nationals from war torn Ukraine. Mr. Jyoti Aditya Rao Scindia in Romania & Maldova,Mr.KirenRijjiju in Slovakia, Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri in Hungary and Mr. Gen V.K.Singh in Poland respectively shall supervise the evacuation of Indian nationals.
• On 1-3-2022 honorable PM Narendra Modi called on Indian Airforce to become part of Operation Ganga for faster evacuation of Indian citizens from Ukraine.
• The entire cost of the evacuation process is borne by Indian government. Each flight to cost over Rs. 1.1 crore per trip.
Tough global Evacuations of Indians by Modi Government
Vande Bharat Mission- One of largest Civilian evacuations by any country in peace time. When international flights were halted due to covid 19 pandemic Indian government arranged repatriation flights globally evacuating 18 lakh Indians in 15 phases over 11 days between May 7 to May 17 2020.
Operation Maitri- 5000 Indians were rescued from Nepal after earthquake in April,2015.
Operation Rahat- More than 4500 Indians and 960 foreigners evacuated from Yemen in June 2015.
Operation Devishakti- In August 2021 over 800 people including 260 Indians rescued from Taliban captured Afghanistan.
In June 2014,46 Indian nurses were rescued from ISIS captivity in Iraq
Exfiltration of CRPF contingent from Libya in 2019.
Undoubtedly India is relentlessly using all possible best measures to help Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine. A sneak peek at various measures adapted by various countries proves this fact. Politicization of such grave crisis is really cheap and unwarranted. Global powers have backed off from evacuation. But Indian government has put every effort with all available means to take care of safety of Indians in Russia- Ukraine war. The intent of Modi government is sincere and in a good cause. Bad situations have to be faced with courage and commitment hoping for good. That is exactly what Modi government is doing with Operation Ganga. The intent being “Every Indian daughter and son shall come home safe from Ukraine”
(The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. Dr. Vinusha Reddy can be reached at [email protected])