India should have an evacuation plan for overseas workers

Note4Students

Escalated tension in the various parts world necessitated an evacuation plan. Considering the size of Indian diaspora, tentative plans would not be successful in every instance. So this topic is important for mains examination.

Introduction

  • India has extensive experience conducting evacuation operations, but given the rising economic contributions and political influence of Indian citizens abroad and the increasing complexity of these operations, the incentives to ensure the success of future ones are now even greater.
  • As India’s diaspora continues to grow, so will the challenges New Delhi faces challenges in protecting this diverse and geographically dispersed population. To overcome these issues, the Indian government will have to institutionalize best practices, bolster its diplomatic and military capabilities, and improve coordination.

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Fig: Indian diaspora

Analysis

Why do we need an evacuation policy?

  1. India has conducted more than thirty evacuation operations across Africa, Asia, and Europe, including its largest-ever civilian airlift of 110,000 people from the Persian Gulf in 1990.
  2. With one of the world’s youngest populations, India’s population is expected to peak at 1.7 billion in 2060, and many are likely to seek a new passport and consular support while traveling, working, or studying abroad.29 Keeping track of and monitoring this growing mobile population will pose a significant challenge to the Indian government.
  3. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), an estimated 11 million Indian citizens now permanently reside abroad, and almost 16 million people of Indian origin hold other citizenships.1 The annual average rate of growth of India’s diaspora population was 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2015.2 Personal remittances are now twenty-nine times what they were in 1990, playing a vital role in the country’s economic growth and development policies.
  4. Given the trend of increased migration and travel from India, it will become increasingly important for the country’s government to institutionalize its best practices and learn from the experiences of other countries.
  5. According to the United Nations (UN), the total number of international migrants increased between 1990 and 2015 from 154 million to 244 million—now constituting 3.3 percent of the world’s population.
  6. Evacuating citizens from abroad is an extremely complex mission in which distance, logistics, security, and coordination pose numerous obstacles. Such operations can assume various forms, and the instruments employed depend on myriad factors, such as geographic location, the nature of the crisis environment, or the size of the population to be extricated.
  7. Several states have therefore developed extensive expertise and capabilities to evacuate their citizens and, most importantly, they have established standard operating procedures for such contingencies. For example, Brazil’s National Defence Policy now enshrines the protection of its 3 million citizens living abroad as a main objective.
  8. However, given the lack of any formal doctrine or emergency plan, the success of India’s missions has mostly been due to the individual sacrifices of officials from its diplomatic corps, flagship carrier, and armed forces.
  9. As more than 11 million Indians now reside abroad, and more than 20 million travel overseas each year, the government will no longer be able to rely on heroic, ad hoc efforts and quick-fix solutions.
  10. Lingering and emerging challenges, including a lack of standard operating procedures and inadequate coordination, will only intensify as evacuation operations become larger in scope and public scrutiny increases

Steps To Be Taken By The Government

  1. The Indian government should employ significant diplomatic and military resources to assess its evacuation operations and institutionalize best practices;
  2. Develop standard operating procedures, including emergency doctrines;
  3. Train and prepare its diplomatic cadre to operate in hostile environments, and increase coordination with other governments;
  4. Assign a greater role to the armed forces, strengthening their capacity to plan and deploy in tandem with civilian authorities;
  5. Establish a permanent coordinating mechanism that facilitates communication and joint operations across national, regional, and international levels and bureaucratic and military levels;
  6. Designate a civilian air reserve fleet for evacuation operations to reduce the burden on Air India, whose staff also requires specific training;
  7. Explore new communication technologies to develop consular platforms to identify, monitor, and contact citizens’ abroad, offering them real-time updates on evacuation procedures.
  8. Expand efforts to manage public pressure through diplomacy and a communication strategy that appropriately prioritizes Indian citizens over people of Indian origin.

Conclusion

  1. To secure their diaspora as a prized asset, home states are also more inclined to protect migrants in extraordinary times of crisis.
  2. As a vulnerable and dislocated population, migrants are particularly exposed to various risks abroad, including natural disasters, political unrest, and violent conflict in their host country or region.
  3. They are often specifically targeted by populist and extremist movements or forced to depart after sudden changes in immigration laws. In such circumstances, governments must act swiftly and decisively to protect the lives and assets of their citizens, which may require evacuating them safely back home.

Questions

Q1. A proper evacuation plan for overseas workers would serve our national interests. Analyse

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