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Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Foreign students yearn to go back as covid disrupts academic session

  • The rise in number of covid cases in India has gotten students from abroad worrying about their safety and well-being
  • With the lockdown being eased, students hope the government will soon allow them to return home

NEW DELHI : At 21, Madhav Kandu’s fears are getting the better of his studies. Locked up in his hostel in Tamil Nadu for the last one-and-a-half months, Kandu now wants one thing—to be able to return home to his family in Nepal.

“I am scared and my priority right now is how to go back home. The corona cases in India are growing and my family wants me to return," said Kandu, an engineering student at a leading private college in Salem.

With covid-19 cases on the rise, Kandu said he is becoming increasingly fearful as all of Nepal has fewer cases than Chennai.

Like him, thousands of international students in India, including those from Asia and Africa, are looking to go back home, pinning hopes on online classes.

“The number of cases is rising in India and we are getting worried about our safety. Coronavirus is contagious and the fear among international students is that if they get infected what will happen to them," said Kevin, a Rwandan fourth-year biotechnology student in Gurgaon.

“I can do my classes sitting at my home back in Rwanda, but the big question is when will things improve. The Indian government is easing lockdown rules and I hope they will allow us to return by opening airports sooner."

Kevin said other African students in Delhi-NCR were equally worried and anxiously awaiting the end of the two-week-long lockdown, so that they can return.

In 2018-19, India was home to 47,427 foreign students from 164 countries, as per official data. The highest proportion came from Nepal (26.88%), followed by Afghanistan (9.8%), Bangladesh (4.38%), Sudan (4.02%), Bhutan (3.82%,), Nigeria (3.4%), the US (3.2%), Yemen (3.2%), Sri Lanka (2.64%), and Iran (2.38%).

M.E. Paramsivam, a professor at Sona College of engineering where Kandu studies, said there is no delay in offering education and health support to international students.

But students are eager to go back as they believe that the pandemic is growing in India, while the new academic year will start only in August-September.

“We understand the current situation and hope the government will do something for the international students as soon as it can," he said.

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