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Indian medical students desperate for return to China as visas not yet issued


Even as China has partially lifted a visa ban for Indians (which includes diplomats and those who have family in China) the one segment that is desperately waiting to get visas is the over 23,000 Indian students enrolled in universities across China.

``It's been two years since the ban and we haven’t been allowed to return to our University campus in China. Most of us are enrolled in medical schools there and we need to do our practicals offline. Many of us are now clinically depressed,’’ said a third-year student of medicine, Ankit.

The students say that they have been in constant touch with the Chinese embassy in Delhi, but their queries don’t translate into anything and they do not have any firm answer on what lies ahead.

However, China has permitted students from Pakistan, Thailand, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka to return to the universities. This stand-offish attitude with Indian students is due to a diplomatic standoff that exists between India and China at present.

External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, had communicated to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi when he had visited India earlier this year to facilitate Indian students who are stuck in India due to a lack of visas. No heed has been paid to that request yet. India too had in April cancelled tourist visas of China, citing the rising Covid chart for this move.

However, tourists don’t get impacted by a visa ban, but students do as they have a lot at stake.

``The Chinese embassy had sought a list of students willing to return to China to complete their degree, and even though most of us have given our names we have no clue on when it would be considered,’’ laments Ankit.

Mental health issues have emerged among students who worry about not being able to repay student loans until they complete their study programme. Once completion of their degree, they have to clear Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE) in order to intern in India and get a job.

In India, there are students who have returned from Ukraine too whose fate is hanging in limbo. Combined with those who want to return to China, the problem has got compounded.