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A Safety Net for Students Abroad

Context

Recent issues faced by Indian Students in Ukraine, Canada and UK have brought to fore the discussions over the requirement of a safety net for students studying abroad.

Relevance

GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

GS-II: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Indian Diaspora Studying Abroad: Contributions
  • Challenges faced by the Indian Diaspora
  • Why a Safety Net is needed?
  • What can India do?
  • Way Forward

Indian Diaspora Studying Abroad: Contributions

  • Indian Students studying abroad spend about 1% of Indian GDP.
  • Important tool of Soft Power Diplomacy via People to People Connect. Termed by Late Sushma Swaraj as ‘Brand Ambassadors of India’ and the Prime Minister as ‘Living Bridge’.
  • Help in Knowledge Transfer. Many come back to help India scale.
  • Remittances help strengthen India’s foreign reserves.
  • Morale boosting for Indians when Indian-Origin people reach a respectable position abroad. For Example, Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella.

Challenges faced by the Indian Diaspora

  • Contempt of a section of Indians towards students studying abroad.
  • Huge expenses that need to be incurred often push many into debt.
  • Untimely shut down of Universities leaves the student stranded on a foreign land with no resources. For Example, Canada where 2000 students are protesting against shut down of universities.
  • Lack of Social Security Agreements between India and other countries.
  • They are at times victims of racial and hate crimes.

Why a Safety Net is needed?

  • Indian Students contribute to Indian development on Economic, Geopolitical and Technological fronts. Their security and safety net would provide them with a reassurance which would motivate them to return to India with their expertise.
  • It is also the moral duty of the government to protect its citizens abroad.
  • India still has a mismatch of supply and demand in terms of education which would require students to keep going abroad.

What can India do?

  • International Agreements which would place the onus on the host countries to protect the interest of Indian students must be given prime importance.
  • India must sign Social Security Agreements which looks after the Indian students abroad.
  • Trade Agreements must contain certain provisions which focus on Indian students. For Example, Insurance and Welfare Schemes for Indian students.

Way Forward

India has to look after its citizens abroad especially the students who carry immense potential and can contribute to nation’s growth and development. If we bask in the glory of their achievements, we are morally bound to rescue them form the crisis that emerges in the host nations. Operation Ganga sets a great example in this regard however more concrete steps at the government level would augment the security of students.

Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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