Repatriation of Indians: Does the action plan justify the huge PR build-up?

  • Over 3.5 crore Indians are abroad and India remains top in sending people abroad
  • India receives highest amount of foreign remittances
  • Most other countries have done much better than india to repatriate citizens

India is all set to start its Great Repatriation, to bring back our fellow Indians stuck abroad due to Covid-19 . Much hype is being built, terming it as one of the biggest, and there will be many claimants for the political mileage soon.

But, is the hype bit too much? Does the action justifies the PR build-up?

According to the official reports, India will run 64 flights from 12 countries and repatriate 14,800 Indians from Thursday. Is that enough? What about others? Is it really a great effort to show that we care for our money-earners abroad? Are they just milch cows and we want only the money, not the people back in India?

Indian Diaspora

We are not yet sure how many Indians are stuck outside now and want to come home. According to the registration by Kerala Government alone, there are nearly 500,000 Keralites who have registered for come home. But that is just only a small percent of the Indians working or settled abroad.

As per the records of the Ministry of External Affairs, there are 3.21 crore Indians abroad. Out of them, 1.7 crore must be NRIs, while the rest are overseas Indian citizens. So, given a chance, most of them would want to go home now. Thus India remains the largest country of origin of international migrants.

And they are serving the nation by sending their earnings home. India is the world’s top receiver of remittances, claiming more than 12% of the world’s remittances in 2015. The World Bank report says that the Indian diaspora sent a USD 79 billion back home in 2018, making India the world’s top recipient of remittances. That forms nearly 3.4% of the GDP. The growth rate in remittance was 14% over the last 3 years. From USD 62.7 billion in 2016 to USD 65.3 billion in 2017, remittances reached the 79 billion mark by 2018.

More interestingly, even willing NRI has to fly on his expenses and the Government has also announced the ticket fare, which is as high as Rs 100,000.

Repatriation by Other Countries

The much-delayed effort by the Government to bring home the stranded Indians is not the biggest or the greatest, if we analyse the initiatives by other countries so far. Most others have done better than India, without much hype.

United States: The State Department has brought more than 52,931 Americans as on April 28 from 97 countries, beginning on January 29, 2020. Besides, the government helped 71,538 Americans on commercial 750 flights from 127 countries and territories. They have been doing it without much fanfare, even as the country faced the worst attack by the deadly virus.

Russia: According to the Russian Embassy in New Delhi, 2,282 people have been evacuated by them ever since India snapped into lockdown mode and suspended regular international departures from March 22.

Britain: The United Kingdom which also was hit badly by the virus made the best efforts to bring home their citizens. From India alone, they took home 15,000 UK citizens. Reports said, the country repatriated 13 lakh Britons from different countries since the start of the outbreak. Of these, 20,000 were brought on Government’s expenses.

China: The country also took many steps to bring back over a million students stuck in other countries. Of the more than 1.6 million Chinese studying abroad, at least 1.42 million students were stuck when the pandemic hit.

Philippines: Even small countries like the Philippines have done much better than India to repatriate its own citizens. More than 23,000 Filipinos have been brought home from abroad since February when the government started its repatriation programme.

The question remains, are we doing enough in deeds more than words?


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