India urges foreign governments to ease travel restrictions for Indians

India urges foreign governments to ease travel restrictions for Indians
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New Delhi: India on Thursday said that it has been taking up with foreign governments the issue of easing travel restrictions for Indians in view of an improvement in the coronavirus situation in the country.

Indian students studying in institutions in China, Italy and several other countries have been stuck in India in view of the travel restrictions.

"With the improvement in the Covid situation in India, we have been taking up with foreign countries the issue of easing travel restrictions for Indians. We believe that this is an important element towards economic recovery," external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

"There have been some positive steps in this direction, and we would hope that more countries take steps to normalise the movement of people from India," he added.

Separately, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said in Rajya Sabha that the government has been making efforts for easing of travel restrictions for Indian students enrolled in foreign universities.

"Our missions abroad have been actively taking up these issues with the respective governments and have been impressing upon those governments to ease the travel restrictions," he said replying to a question.

"The issue of travel restrictions has been taken up at the ministerial level with several countries. Consequently, travel restrictions are being eased for Indian students to travel to many countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Georgia, etc," he said.

Muraleedharan said more countries are expected to open up when the coronavirus situation improves.

To a separate question, he said the government is developing and designing a 'Global Indian Students Portal (GISP)' for those wanting to go abroad for studies.

He said the portal will have information regarding courses, foreign universities, nodal officers, accreditation requirements that will guide the prospective students to make informed decisions.

Asked about the supply of COVID-19 vaccines by the US to India, Bagchi said the domestic vaccination programme has been continuing at a rapid pace and that New Delhi has been in touch with its partners on the possibility of import of vaccines.

To a question on when the World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to recognise Covaxin vaccine, he said its producer Bharat Biotech Limited has submitted the request along with all necessary documentation to the global body earlier this month.

Bagchi also said that more than half of the member states of the European Union have recognised Covishield, the vaccine manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Asked about reports on a visit to India by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken next week, the spokesperson said details will be shared when updates on it are available.

Bagchi also said India received an invitation for the swearing-in ceremony of Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi. The ceremony is scheduled for August 5.