Home >News >India >Diplomats adopt ingenious methods to get to designated workplaces

NEW DELHI : Desperate times, they say, call for desperate, or at least out-of-the-box, measures. With the novel coronavirus stopping almost all travel, especially air travel between countries, Indian diplomats have had to adopt some novel means to get to their stations.

India’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay arrived in Colombo earlier this month, several weeks after he was freed from his duties as joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. Baglay landed in Colombo in an Indian Air Force special flight, which was carrying some 12.5 tonnes of medicines for Sri Lanka. He presented his credentials to the Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapakse via video link.

India’s newly appointed permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), T.S. Tirumurthy reached New York by an Air India flight, which on its return was to bring back stranded Indians from the US. He also presented his credentials virtually to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

Tirumurthy’s predecessor Syed Akbaruddin, who retired from the Indian Foreign Service at the end of last month, also returned home by an Air India flight after bidding farewell, virtually, to Guterres.

Rahul Chhabra, India’s high commissioner to Kenya, will return to India and take up his new assignment as secretary, economic relations, in the Indian foreign ministry early next month. Chhabra is expected to travel on an Air India evacuation flight.

Some other officers from missions in Europe and Southeast Asia, too, have come back to New Delhi on the special flights operated by Air India to ferry stranded Indians back, including from Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

New Delhi started its evacuation flights to bring home stranded Indians on 7 May. According to the foreign ministry, 173 flights and three ships have been pressed into service to bring back Indians from 34 countries, including the US, Canada, Argentina and the UK, besides Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Indian ships have brought in people from the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

India will bring back 100,000 Indians from 60 countries by 13 June, and preparations are under way to widen the scope of the Vande Bharat mission, the repatriation plan for covid-19. Chartered flights to bring back more Indians are being planned, while Indian Navy ships are expected to bring Indian fishermen from Iran next month, two people familiar with the developments said. Indian nationals stranded in neighbouring countries have been allowed to return over land borders, which were closed in March.

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