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Indian students in Ukraine face harassment over Russia – media

Some medical students say they have been told to leave the country because New Delhi is “good friends” with Moscow

Indian students pursuing medical degrees in Ukraine are facing hostility from locals due to New Delhi’s relations with Russia, according to the Times of India.   

The newspaper reported that antagonism toward Indian students has intensified since June, coinciding with the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces, which Moscow says has failed.

“Locals are asking them to leave the country. It’s got worse in the last eight weeks or so,” one student told the newspaper. Another student said that local residents claim Indians are “good friends with Russia,” and that they have been told to go home. 

“Sometimes shopkeepers don’t sell things to us. We face the same thing in our hostel. The staff behave rudely with us,” one female student stated. Citing difficulties related to the situation in Ukraine, including frequent power cuts and the absence of water supplies, some students said they had been left with “no other option” and were pleading with the Indian government to allow them to be transferred to universities outside Ukraine. 

After the outbreak of hostilities between Ukraine and Russia in February 2022, the Indian government launched Operation Ganga to evacuate around 22,000 Indians via neighboring countries. Around 20,000 of those evacuated were medical students. Some of them later returned to continue their studies.

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Students have attributed their decision to guidelines provided by India’s National Medical Council (NMC), which prohibit medical students enrolled in foreign universities from completing their degrees at Indian institutions. According to Indian media, measures introduced by the Indian government to help students evacuated from Ukraine to continue their studies could not help all of those affected. 

Last year, the NMC permitted final-year students who had returned from Ukraine to carry out their mandatory internships in India as a “one-time measure,” allowing them to take the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination. However, the NMC mandated that those who qualified must undergo two years of compulsory medical internship, instead of the usual one year, to become eligible for medical practitioner registration, India Today reported earlier this year. 

Additionally, the NMC has granted students studying in Ukraine the opportunity to participate in an academic mobility program offered by select Ukrainian universities. The program enables students to complete courses in countries other than India, with approval from their parent institution in Ukraine.  

In November 2022, the Indian government reported that approximately 15,783 students were enrolled in various Ukrainian universities, with just under 15,000 participating in online classes and 640 attending offline classes in Ukraine. At the time, only 170 students had benefited from the academic mobility program. Reports indicate that for many students, enrolling at a university in another country is financially unfeasible and prolongs the duration of their studies. 

August 22, 2023 at 10:00PM
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