NEW DELHI :
Desperate times, they say, require desperate or at least out of the box measures.
With the novel coronavirus stopping almost all types of travel in its tracks — especially airline travel between countries — Indian diplomats have had to adopt some novel means to reach their countries of posting.
India’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay arrived in Colombo several weeks after he was freed from his duties as joint secretary in the prime minister’s office on an Indian Air Force special flight carrying some 12.5 tonnes of medicines for Sri Lanka.
India’s newly appointed Permanent Representative to the UN, TS Tirumurthy reached New York by an Air India flight that was to bring back Indians wishing to come back home from the US.
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.
Rahul Chhabra, India’s current high commissioner in Kenya, is to return to India and take up his new assignment as Secretary- Economic Relations in the Indian foreign ministry early next month. Chhabra is also expected to travel back by on an repatriation flight by Air India.
New Delhi started its evacuation flights to bring home stranded Indians on 7 May. According to the Indian foreign ministry numbers, 173 flights and three ships have been pressed into service to bring back stranded Indians from 34 countries. The ministry’s target is to bring back 100,000 Indians from 60 countries by 13 June with preparations underway to widen the scope of the “Vande Bharat mission" as the repatriation plan is known as. Indians nationals stranded in neighbouring countries have been allowed to return through land border routes that had been closed in March.