Ukraine war leaves Indian students stranded and desperate to finish their studies

Ukraine war leaves Indian students stranded and desperate to finish their studies

Shishupal Rozen’s dream of becoming a doctor was shattered on February 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine.

The fourth-year medical student was training at Kharkiv’s largest university when Russia unleashed some of the fiercest bombing of the war on Ukraine’s second city.

Rozen took refuge from the ravine at the Studentska metro station, which reminded him of the photos he had seen of London during World War II.

Under Operation Ganga (Ganges), New Delhi organized the mass evacuation of Indian students, who numbered between 15,000 and 20,000 before the war, to Romania, Hungary and Poland. Rozen managed to cross into Poland in March and flew home from Warsaw on an evacuation flight organized by the government.

“When we arrived in Delhi, there were many ministers greeting us,” Rozen, 23, said. They did everything to get us to safety after crossing the border into Ukraine.”

But more than five months later, Rozen is living at home with his family in a village near Patna in the northeastern Indian state of Bihar. He recently finished his online semester. But local authorities don’t recognize online training for aspiring doctors, so he tries unsuccessfully to secure a place at a medical college in India.

“We come from a war zone to fight another war,” Rozen said. “This time, our future is at stake and the Indian government is silent.”

Rozen is just one of thousands of Indian students whose education has been suspended and who are calling on the Indian government and medical authorities to help them.

Since fleeing Ukraine, students have staged protests, including a recent hunger strike in New Delhi. They have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials to support them and have asked the authorities to accommodate them in national medical colleges so that they can complete their studies.

The students’ complaints are unusual in that they come from a young, largely middle-class and upwardly mobile demographic where support for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is widespread.

India needs medical personnel, but criticism of the government has been moderate in a country facing a myriad of economic and social challenges.

“Students are from different parts of India and concerted action among them is difficult in terms of a long and effective protest that could make a difference,” added Ashok Swain, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden and frequent critic of the Modi government. .

The plight of students was recently raised in the Indian parliament.

“We have been in touch with the Ukrainian education authorities in this context,” Meenakshi Lekhi, the culture minister, said in response. “The Ukrainian side has essentially reiterated its willingness to continue online courses.” It did not address the issue of student accommodation in Indian institutions.

Before the war, Indians were the largest group of foreigners studying in Ukraine, accounting for almost a quarter of the total.

Medical schools in Ukraine offer courses in English, which were a popular alternative for Indians who could not secure places in their country’s fiercely competitive state universities or pay for a private institution.

Akash Raj, 19, a second-year student at Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University in western Ukraine, was awakened by a phone call on the morning of the invasion. “My friend called and said there was a bomb explosion at a nearby airport and when we woke up we saw a black cloud over it.”

The Indian embassy told the students to leave, he said, and he took a bus to Romania. After an eight-hour walk and a night of waiting in sub-zero temperatures, he managed to cross the border and then fly to Delhi.

Back in India, Raj returned home to Gurgaon, near Delhi, where he takes online classes from Ukraine. “I’m not happy because I really like offline classes,” he said.

His father, RV Gupta, a medical engineer, belongs to an association of parents of evacuee students, which has appealed to the government and the courts for redress for their children and staged several protests.

“What we expected was that the government would think positively and accommodate all the students from India,” Gupta said, “but they didn’t.”

Medical students returned from Ukraine to protest in New Delhi in July to demand that the government allow them to complete their studies at state universitiesStudents demand that the government allow them to complete their studies in state universities © Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times Images/Getty Images

A senior Indian official told the Financial Times that the matter was being taken up by the respective state governments. “As far as the central government is concerned, the existing rules regarding medical studies (admissions, qualifications, eligibility criteria etc.) should be followed and complied with,” he said.

Authorities have noted that admission requirements and standards for doctors were always tough for foreign-trained doctors, whether from Ukraine or elsewhere.

Thousands of Indian students studying in China have also returned home since 2020 due to Beijing’s draconian Zero Covid policies.

Last month, India’s National Medical Commission said it would allow medical students who completed their degrees before being forced to leave Ukraine, China or elsewhere to undergo screening tests that would allow them to practice medicine

However, the measure did not include students whose courses were interrupted midway, as is the case with most students who had to evacuate, including Rozen.

Despite the obstacles, he hopes to return to Ukraine after the war to complete his course. “I think it will happen one day,” he said. “I can move hell or heaven to become a doctor.”

Twitter: @JohnReedwrites


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About the Author: Chaz Cutler

My name is Chasity. I love to follow the stock market and financial news!