Capacity Analysis for Evacuation of Indian Diaspora
By Guru Aiyar, Takshashila Fellow
Since 1991, India has been involved in six major evacuations from West Asia alone. Mass evacuations have become a recurrent feature and it is very likely that the Indian government will be called upon for similar missions in the future.
On the other hand, the current Indian government has opted for a proactive outreach towards the diaspora. For instance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the merger of the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards to a packed crowd of about 18000 Indians at Madison Square Garden, New York. The strong outreach continued with NRIs in West Asia when the PM told an Indian audience in Dubai in August 2015, “Wherever my Indians are, we never see the colour of the passport, their link with the motherland is enough.”
The proactive outreach, combined with the likelihood that the diaspora might be vulnerable to multifarious risks in their host countries, implies that the greatest concern for the Indian government will be to achieve a quick and safe evacuation of Indians.
This policy brief does a capacity analysis of civilian and military assets required for a successful evacuation. The brief concludes that if needed, India would be able to achieve successful evacuation from Qatar between 13 to 42, and from Saudi Arabia between 15 to 50 days under certain circumstances/constraints. Similarly, evacuation from Fiji to India can be done between 7 to 23 days.
The policy brief recommends that to enhance the capacity of evacuation in times of stress:
First, the government should include an evacuation clause in the licensing of commercial airlines, which can be invoked for bolstering the existing capacity during any crisis.
Second, the Indian missions abroad must have standing agreements with logistics companies that will ensure immediate availability of the latter’s assets such as trucks and buses for road transportation whenever a crisis erupts.
Third, the government must have access to operational sea and air bases for uninterrupted operations in neutral countries wherever there is a major concentration of the Indian diaspora.
This brief can be cited as: Guru Aiyar, “Capacity Analysis for Evacuation of Indian Diaspora” Takshashila Policy Brief 2016-S04, (2016) www.takshashila.org.in/1534524506254
Featured Image: Operation ‘Sankat Mochan’ from Sudan, 15 July 2016. Facebook page of Ministry of External affairs, Government of India