“Even if you are stuck on the Mars, Indian Embassy there will help you.”
These words by late Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj makes Indian chests swell with pride even today. India has a distinguished legacy – it does not leave its citizens unaided in conflict zones and regions struck with a humanitarian crisis. Be it Yemen, Libya, Lebanon or more recently Ukraine – India has always got its citizens out of war zones. India’s zeal to protect its own has put the ‘developed’ superpowers of the world to shame.
While India mounts Operation Ganga in and around Ukraine to evacuate Indian citizens out of the war-torn country, countries like the United States, United Kingdom, China among others have all abandoned their citizens – telling them that they are on their own.
The Might of Operation Ganga
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla informed on Tuesday that all Indian nationals have left Kyiv and nearly 60 per cent of Indians in Ukraine have left the country so far. He said out of an estimated 20,000 Indian citizens in Ukraine, 60 per cent have left the country since the first advisory was issued by the government.
As many as 31 evacuation flights will be operated to neighbouring countries of crisis-hit Ukraine and will bring back more than 6,300 Indians stranded in the eastern European nation by March 8. Under ‘Operation Ganga’, the flights will be operated by Air India, Air India Express, IndiGo and SpiceJet. Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has also been roped in to aid in the evacuation of Indians from Ukraine.
India has also dispatched its top Union Ministers to assist in the evacuation process. Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiren Rijiju and VK Singh are currently in neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had at least four separate meetings so far to review the ongoing efforts under Operation Ganga. He has also said that India will help people from neighbouring countries and developing countries who are stranded in Ukraine.
Mind you, India’s ‘Operation Ganga’ has stunned the world, because of the ‘superpowers’ that be have abandoned their citizens in Ukraine.
The United States
The United States of America was rather clear and unapologetic in abandoning its citizens in Ukraine. The US had issued an advisory for its citizens to depart using ‘privately available transportation options if it is safe to do so’ and had explicitly said that the government will not be able to evacuate them.
American citizens had been told to flee Ukraine using commercial flights. Yet, many still remain stranded.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom – an empire on which the sun never supposedly set, said, “Russia’s military action in Ukraine will severely affect the British Government’s ability to provide consular assistance in Ukraine.” The government in London said it will not be able to provide increased support to its citizens stranded in Ukraine.
Britain has asked its nationals to follow the advice of Ukrainian authorities with no additional assistance. It has shifted its embassy from Kyiv to Lviv.
China had planned an evacuation campaign for its citizens in Ukraine. On February 24, China announced chartered flights for its 6,000 stranded nationals in Ukraine and requested its citizens leaving Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, to display signs of identification, such as the Chinese flag.
However, Beijing then grew cold feet and abandoned the evacuation campaign, leaving its citizens stranded in the conflict zone. It postponed the campaign saying the current conditions were ‘too unsafe to evacuate’. China has also not issued any travel advisories or support mechanisms for its nationals in Ukraine.
Reports now suggest that China might be looking to resume its operation. But the essence remains that China got scared.
India has impressed the world with its administrative and logistical might once again. Interestingly, Indian planes are not departing empty-handed. They are taking humanitarian assistance to be delivered in Ukraine along with them. India has arrived at the world stage, and there is no turning back now.