Amid reports of the death of another Indian-American student in Ohio—the “fourth such case within a month in the US”—the Ministry of External Affairs revealed on Friday that 403 Indian students died abroad in 34 countries over the last five years for a variety of causes.
In a written response to the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stated that “403 incidents of death of Indian students abroad have been reported since 2018 due to various reasons, including natural causes, accidents, and medical conditions.”.
He was answering to TDP’s Jayadev Galla, who also sought to know if the government has implemented any schemes or initiatives to raise awareness and ensure the well-being of Indian students in foreign nations. According to MEA data, the figure included 91 in Canada, 48 in the UK, 35 in Australia, 40 in Russia, 36 in the United States, 21 in Ukraine, 14 in Cyprus, 20 in Germany, 10 in Italy, and nine each in China, Kyrgyzstan, and Qatar.
According to reports, the Consulate General of India in New York believes no foul play is involved in Shreyas Reddy Benigeri’s death and is providing all possible assistance to the family.
However, the incident occurred after Neel Acharya, an Indian-origin student, was discovered dead near the university airport. A homeless drug addict previously killed another Indian student, Vivek Saini, in Lithonia, Georgia.
Akul B. Dhawan, an 18-year-old student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was discovered dead last month with signs of hypothermia, raising concerns among parents of children studying abroad.
Galla also inquired whether the government had any existing policies in place to ensure the safety and protection of Indian students in potential or actual war-prone locations around the world, as well as the number of Indian students rescued from conflict zones in the last three years.
To this end, Jaishankar stated that the welfare of Indian students overseas was one of the Government of India’s top objectives, and Indian missions and posts abroad host welcome ceremonies for students enrolled in foreign universities, urging them to register with them.
“Indian Missions and Posts Abroad prioritise any issues raised by Indian students. Grievances are addressed through a variety of channels, including calls, walk-ins, e-mails, social media, 24×7 support lines, open houses, and the MADAD webpage. Any complaints received from students studying abroad are forwarded to the relevant universities or educational institutions and, if necessary, the host government.
“Our missions and posts are watchful and regularly monitor the well-being of our pupils. If there is an adverse incident, it is immediately reported to the relevant authorities in the host country to ensure that it is thoroughly investigated and the culprits are punished,” he added.
Meanwhile, up to 23,906 Indian nationals, including students, have been evacuated from crisis zones over the last three years.
“Operation Ganga and Operation Ajay are two notable examples of operations launched recently where the government evacuated Indian students,” Jaishankar told a news conference.