House panel criticises govt for the absence of ‘clear-cut’ policy on the Indian diaspora

A PARLIAMENTARY panel on Wednesday criticised the government over the absence of a “clear-cut” policy on engaging with the Indian diaspora and recommended bringing out a document to serve as a guiding principle for a deeper and wider connection with the community.

The Ministry of External Affairs committee also expressed displeasure at the government not yet having an authentic database of the Indian diaspora and said that Indian missions abroad should play a more active role in developing closer contacts with the community.

In its 15th report that was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, the panel noted that the Indian diaspora comprising over 18 million PIOs (persons of Indian origin) and 13 million NRIs is one of the largest overseas communities globally and the government must engage with it effectively.

The panel headed by P P Chaudhary said it is surprised that a “clear-cut policy” on India’s diaspora is yet to be drafted by the government despite having a huge diaspora playing a very important role in the socio-economic development of their home country.

“The committee desires that the (External Affairs) Ministry should bring out a policy document on its diaspora to serve as a guiding principle for deeper and wider engagement with the diaspora community,” it said.

The committee also noted that it is “deeply concerned” about the plight of thousands of Indian students pursuing medical and other courses in Ukraine and China as they are not being able to return to these countries.

“These students have been left in a dilemma as they could not physically re-join their courses or complete their internship or training in India,” the report said.

“The committee has been informed that the MEA had recommended to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to consider allowing Indian private medical institutions to enroll students returned from Ukraine in their institutions based on the one-time exemption,” it said.

The committee urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to vigorously pursue the matter with the Ministry of Health as this move could solve the current crisis facing students enrolled in Ukrainian universities.

On Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities, the MEA has said that the Indian Embassy in Beijing is preparing a list of such students who will be shared with the Chinese side to consider returning to China.

“Keeping in view the fact that China has nearly five lakhs foreign students from various countries, the committee has urged the MEA to get in touch with the embassies of other countries so that coordinated efforts are made to facilitate the return of such students to China for resumption of their in-person classes,” the report said.

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