New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has lauded the National Medical Commission’s efforts for devising a scheme for Indian medical students who did not undergo physical clinical training in their colleges abroad due to extraordinary situations created by Ukraine crisis and COVID-19 and said it should be provided the updated status of students who have benefitted from the option along with the data of students who returned to the respective countries, particularly China.
The committee, headed by BJP member PP Chaudhary, presented the Twenty-first Report of the Standing Committee on External Affairs on Action Taken by the Government on its recommendations contained in the fifteenth report of the committee on the subject ‘Welfare of Indian Diaspora: Policies/Schemes’.
“Due to their concern about the plight of thousands of Indian students who were pursuing medical and other courses in Ukraine and China, the Committee had desired MEA to take up with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare the proposal to allow returnee medical students from Ukraine and China to enroll in Indian private medical institutions on a one-time exemption basis to complete their courses,” the committee said in the action taken report.
The Committee had also desired MEA to make coordinated efforts with Missions to facilitate the return of Indian students to China for resumption of in- person classes for those who desire so.
“The Ministry have informed about various actions taken by them in seeking facilitation from the Chinese side for students to return and also the efforts made with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the National Medical Commission (NMC) regarding medical students who were unable to return to complete their studies,” it said.
The report said the Committee notes that the NMC has devised a scheme under which Indian medical students who did not undergo physical clinical training due to extraordinary situations, but were granted certificates of completion of degree by respective institutes in foreign countries, on or before June 30, 2022, have been permitted to appear in the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) and upon qualifying the FMGE, such students are required to undergo Compulsory Rotating Medical Internship (CRMI) for a period of two years in order to be eligible for registration in India.
“The Committee hope that this option devised by the National Medical Commission (NMC) will be a respite for those medical students who had returned due to emergency situations in Ukraine and China. The Committee desire that the updated status of medical students who have been benefitted from NMC’s option along with the data of students who returned to the respective countries, particularly China, may be apprised to them,” it said.
The committee noted that MEA had stated that Indian Embassy in Beijing is preparing a list of students to be shared with the Chinese side for consideration for their return to China, on a need-assessed basis.
In reply to the Committee, the MEA had stated that The Government of People’s Republic of China had restricted travel to China by suspending visa and residence permits with effect from 28 March 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
During the External Affairs Minister’s meeting with Foreign Minister of China on March 25, 2022, he raised the issue of medical students noting that such a restrictive policy puts the future of many Indian students in jeopardy.
The Chinese side expressed its willingness to consider facilitating the return of a limited number of Indian students on a trial basis depending upon need.
Accordingly, the Embassy of India in Beijing issued a press release on April 29, 2022 seeking the details of students who intend to return to China to continue their studies. A list of all such students willing to return to China was provided to the Chinese side for their consideration.
On June 13, 2022, Chinese Embassy in India issued a notice updating its visa policy for Indian citizens. The notice stated they will start accepting visa applications from (i) foreign nationals and their accompanying family members going to China for resumption of work and production in all fields; (ii) family members of Chinese citizens and foreigners with Chinese permanent residence permit going to China for family reunion or visiting relatives.
The two sides continued to work out further modalities for facilitating the return of Indian medical students to China. The two sides also discussed this issue during External Affairs Minister’s meeting with the Foreign Minister of China in July, 2022 at Bali in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Indian students who are studying in China were advised to continue checking Indian Embassy website for regular updates on the matter. They were also advised to remain in touch with their universities for any updates.
The Chinese side later conveyed that their universities are reaching out to Indian students to inform them about their eligibility to return. From August 24, 2022, the Chinese Embassy in India updated its visa requirements, indicating application procedures for students returning to China to resume their studies.
The Ministry and Embassy have been continuing to pursue the Chinese side to complete the necessary formalities enabling the students’ return at an early date. In parallel, efforts are being made to raise with Chinese authorities issues being faced by Indian students (including difficulties in travel owing to restrictions imposed by the Chinese side).
The Ministry has been in contact with the NMC and MoHFW regarding the issues pertaining to Indian medical students unable to return to China.
Issues relating to education of Indian medical students from overseas are dealt as per extant rules and regulations of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the National Medical Commission (NMC).
Operation Ganga saw hundreds of students return home from Ukraine via neighbouring nations like Romania, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, and Slovakia.
As per government records, more than 20000 Indians were in Ukraine at the time of the crisis of which close to 18000 were students. The first flight from Bucharest brought 249 students to safety to Delhi on February 27.
By March 6, about 16,000 Indians had been flown to India in 76 flights. Flights by the Indian AirForce and private flight operators like Indigo Air India and Spice Jet resulted in bringing citizens back. The last lot of close to 600 students were rescued out of Sumy via a safety corridor.