Agreements to oblige host countries to ensure the welfare of Indian students during crises

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Agreements to oblige host countries to ensure the welfare of Indian students during crises

  • The war in Ukraine and the evacuation program launched by the government following the crisis have highlighted the number of students that travel abroad.

Indian students abroad

  • India has a history of students traveling abroad for higher education and major personalities who went abroad include Mahatma Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Amartya Sen and Manmohan Singh.
  • As estimated before the COVID pandemic, about 7,50,000 Indian students were studying abroad, spending around $24 billion in foreign economies, which accounts for 1% of India’s GDP.
  • The number is said to increase to about 1.8 million by 2024 and students are likely to spend $80 billion.
  • India is the second largest source of international students after China.
  • The reasons for such a high number of students going abroad include the gap in India’s supply of quality education against the demand.

Benefits of having large number of Indian students abroad

  • Sushma Swaraj referred to Indians abroad as “brand ambassadors of India”.
  • The Prime Ministers of India and UK called Indians in the U.K. as the “living bridge” between the countries.
  • The large base of Indian students abroad have various benefits to India in the form of,
  • Soft power
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Transfer of Indian culture
  • Remittances they send back to India

Recent events that troubled Indian students abroad

  • The unfortunate deaths of two Indian students in Ukraine.
  • Around 2,000 students in Canada got affected as their colleges were abruptly closed.
  • A few years ago many ‘bogus’ colleges in the U.K. shut down abruptly, impacting them.
  • During the pandemic, Australia shut its borders to many Indian students who had enrolled to study in the country.
  • Even in the U.K. people were seen stranded without access to food and accommodation as they lost their economic means.

Need for protection

  • The Indian government must proactively build a safety net for international students.
  • International arrangements that require host countries to ensure the welfare of students during a crisis should be given the highest priority.
  • The trade and other agreements that India signs should also negotiate for the inclusion of safety of these students.
  • A mandatory student insurance scheme be formulated to ensure the interests of the students.
  • Students take expensive loans from institutional and non-institutional sources to finance their education and these institutions should be regulated.


  • As India celebrates the achievements of Indians abroad, we should also take up the responsibility of safeguarding and ensuring their welfare.