Published: 13th August 2022
Officials say China-returned Indian students will be called back "very soon", anxious students happy but tired of waiting
Though China has stated that it would be taking the students back soon, updates on the same are yet to be determined and communicated
The Standing Committee of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in its recent report submitted to the Lok Sabha has recommended that arrangements should be made for sending Indian students who were pursuing their education from Chinese medical universities but were stranded here due to COVID-induced visa ban by China. Though China has stated that it would be taking the students back soon, solid updates on the same are yet to arrive.
Meanwhile, the awaiting students are running out of patience and suffer from worry. In conversation with EdexLive, some of them reveal their feelings about the situation.
"I am really happy about going back. But there is no certainty regarding the date when the students will actually be called back. The Indian government wants us to submit a few forms but these are sent by the universities. My university is currently on vacation, so I have not received any correspondence or documents. Most students have not. It is uncertain when these formalities will be completed and we will go back," said Mohammad Waseem, a medical student from Delhi, who studies in China.
In contrast to Waseem's anxiety, Alka Krishnan, a student from Kerala sounds highly enthusiastic when she discusses the prospect of returning to China. "We are very much ready and excited to go back. We have heard from a spokesperson from the Foreign Affairs Ministry of China that students from India will be called back soon. China has also contacted the MEA and asked for the list of students who are to be sent back. It has also come to notice that the details of the first batch of students to go back are being collected. So we are happy," she said.
"We have to submit the required forms. And a majority of the universities are silent about it. But the spokesperson has informed us that the process would be started from August 20. So we are waiting. There has been no official confirmation about the date, but we came across it on the spokesperson's Twitter handle," she added.
Let's speed things up
"It is almost three years now that students are sitting at home. We are happy and want to return. Attending another semester online is going to be very difficult. Though the Chinese universities have offered transfers, we do not want to opt for it. It is very difficult to come back from a foreign country and then settle in another. We are comfortable with the Chinese universities, and going to some other country will require us to consider many factors. So, transfers are not a feasible option," said Shah Nawaz, another student from China.
"It has been three months since China announced that it would be taking back the students soon. But till now, there has been no confirmation. There is no surety even for a single student. And it is being said that students will be taken in batches. Considering all the formalities required for the visa, I'm certain that a batch will contain only 100-150 students, and not more. There are 12,000 students from China and sending only a few of them back is like taking a bucket of water out of an ocean. In this case, the second batch has to wait for a few months again," he added.
"The government should speed up the process, so that time can be saved and students do not have to waste one more year. We urge the respective governments to work efficiently and make the returns happen as soon as possible. We know that it is not an easy process, and a lot is involved. But we want all students from China to be sent back by the end of this year. But we are happy that our return is being considered. It is not a real solution, but at least something is being done about the situation," he said further.
EdexLive also reached out to Mohammad Sageer, Joint Secretary, Foreign Medical Graduates Parents' Association (FMGPA). "We are very happy that such news has come. But the procedure has not started yet. The Chinese universities have also not sent a word to the students. Only a few, like Jilin University, has contacted the students. The Indian government has also not started direct flights. In this situation, students have to opt for chartered flights, which are very expensive," he said.
"The government should take care of the travel expenses. It should also give conformations regarding the dates, and information on visas should be given. All the Chinese universities should start the process to get students back. Students have been waiting for a long time with worry. If there will be a delay, the government should allow the students to complete their clinical/
Snehal PS, a student from Kerala agrees with Dr Sageer. "It is good news, but there are many things to be considered first. The flight prices, if we go with chartered flights will be very high, reaching up to Rs 1 lakh. Students have to travel further to their universities too, which means further expense. About 70 per cent of the total students have opted for student loans for their education. This will be a burden for them. Additionally, China has strict quarantine protocols. The country also calls for testing every day. The universities are yet to provide the required JW 202 form and invitation letters," he said.
"But we want to go back. If the Indian government had allowed us to complete our practical/clinical training here, there would be no need to return. But that has not been the case. Tamil Nadu Medical Council has yet to allow students to complete their internships, even after receiving a notice from NMC (National Medical Commission). Students from 2014 are waiting to complete their internships. In this situation, going back is the only solution. Businessmen from Russia and Pakistan were recently taken back, so we are hopeful too," he added.
What about Langya virus?
Asked about the concerns regarding COVID-19 and the newly detected Langya virus, Shah Nawaz said, "Yes, the concerns are there, especially with the parents. But there is nothing to fear. Since we were staying there, we know China is a disciplined country and they take safety very seriously."
Alka adds, "As for the Langya virus, it has been reported that affected people are recovering. And even China is not considering it a threat, otherwise lockdowns would have been imposed."