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INS TABAR undertook a bilateral Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Algerian Naval Force Ship EZZADJER, Algiers, 29 August 2021.

Indian Navy frontline frigate INS TABAR undertook a bilateral Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Algerian Naval Force Ship EZZADJER on 29 August 2021.

2. INS TABAR is commanded by Captain Mahesh Mangipudi and has a complement of 300 personnel. The joint exercise between INS TABAR and ANS EZZADJER included professional interactions, sharing of best practices, and communication drills at sea.

3. The exercise in North African waters was designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security, and increase interoperability between the navies of the two friendly countries.

4. The PASSEX between INS TABAR and ANS EZZADJER will contribute to further strengthening friendly contacts and cooperation between the navies of India and Algeria.

5. INS TABAR, is a Talwar-class stealth Frigate. The ship is equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors. The ship is part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet which is based at Mumbai under Western Naval Command. Source: Embassy of India, Algiers.


APEDA in collaboration with HPMC exports five unique varieties of apples to Bahrain, New Delhi, 13 August 2021.

In continuance with its thrust on promoting agricultural and processed food products exports to newer destinations, APEDA collaboration with Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation Ltd (HPMC) today exported first consignment consisting of five unique varieties of apples – Royal Delicious, Dark Baron Gala, Scarlet Spur, Red Velox & Golden Delicious to Bahrain.

The apples are sourced from the farmers of Himachal Pradesh and exported by APEDA registered DM Enterprises. The apples will be showcased at the apple promotion programme organized by leading retailer – Al Jajira group commencing from 15th August, 2021 which also commences 75th year of India’s independence celebration on theme – Bharat Ki Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

The apple promotion programme is also being organized for familiarising consumers in Bahrain about varieties of apples in India.

This comes at a time when India has been expanding its footprint of mango exports to the newer countries, notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID19 pandemic.

In July 2021, in a major initiative for boosting mango export potential from the eastern region especially to middle east countries, a consignment of Geographical Identification (GI) certified Fazil mango variety sourced from Malda district of West Bengal was exported to Bahrain. The consignment of Fazil mango was exported by APEDA registered DM enterprises, Kolkata and imported by Al Jazira group, Bahrain.

APEDA has been initiating measures to boost fruits and vegetables exports from the non-traditional regions and states. It has been conducting virtual buyer-seller meets and festivals to promote mango exports.

Prior to the mango shipment to Bahrain, APEDA organized a mango promotion programme at Doha, Qatar where nine varieties of mangoes including GI certified from West Bengal & Uttar Pradesh were displayed at the stores of importer Family Food Centre. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Visit of Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan to the Kingdom of Bahrain, New Delhi, 29 August 2021.

Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan will pay an official visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain from August 30 to September 1, 2021. This will be his first visit to the country. During the visit MOS will hold discussions with Bahraini Ministers and dignitaries. He will also meet a wide cross-section of Indian community in Bahrain, including those in health, education, business and social service.

India and Bahrain share excellent political, economic and cultural relations which have further strengthened in the past few years. Both countries have cooperated closely during the Covid-19 pandemic. EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Bahrain in November 2020. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani visited India in April 2021 when he and EAM chaired the Third High Joint Commission between India and Bahrain. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had visited Bahrain in August 2019.

The Indian community numbers about 350,000 in the Kingdom of Bahrain and enjoys great goodwill of Bahraini leadership. India-Bahrain bilateral trade is around USD 1 billion and has shown an increasing trend. Both countries are celebrating the golden jubilee of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2021. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

For first time, Dragon Fruit grown by farmers of Gujarat & West Bengal exported to London, United Kingdom & Kingdom of Bahrain, New Delhi, 03 August 2021.

In a major boost to exports of exotic fruit, consignments of fibre& mineral rich ‘dragon fruit’, which are sourced from farmers of Gujarat & West Bengal, have been exported for the first time to London, United Kingdom & Kingdom of Bahrain. In India, dragon fruit is also referred to as Kamalam.

The consignment of exotic fruit exported to London was sourced from farmers of Kutch region and exported by APEDA registered packhouse in Bharuch, Gujarat, while the consignment of ‘dragon fruit’ exported to Kingdom of Bahrain was sourced from the farmers of West Midnapore (West Bengal) and exported by APEDA registered enterprises, Kolkata.

Earlier in June 2021, a consignment of ‘dragon fruit’ that was sourced from the farmers of Tadasar village, Sangli district, Maharashtra was exported to Dubai by APEDA recognized exporter.

Production of ‘dragon fruit’ commenced in India in early 1990s and it was grown as home gardens. Due to high export value, the exotic ‘dragon fruit’ has become increasingly popular in recent years in the country and it has been taken up for cultivation by farmers in different states. There are three main varieties of dragon fruit: white flesh with pink skin, red flesh with pink skin, and white flesh with yellow skin. However, the red and white flesh is typically being relished by the consumers.

At present, dragon fruit is grown mostly in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. West Bengal is new to taking up cultivation of this exotic fruit.

Scientifically referred to as Hylocereusundatus, the ‘dragon fruit’ is grown in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, the USA and Vietnam and these countries are the major competitors for Indian Dragon Fruit.

The cultivation of dragon fruit requires less water and can be grown in various kinds of soils. The fruit contains fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can help in repairing the cell damage caused by oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, and also improve the digestive system. Since the fruit has spikes and petals resembling lotus, it is referred to as ‘Kamalam’.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme in July 2020 on All India Radio had mentioned about the dragon fruit farming in the arid Kutch region of Gujarat. He had congratulated the farmers of Kutch for the cultivation of fruit for ensuring India’s self-sufficiency in the production. His dream has come true when the fruit is being exported to the UK and Kingdom of Bahrain.

APEDA is making efforts to export it to other European countries to get better price realisation to the farmers of their produce.

APEDA promotes exports of agricultural & processed food products by providing assistance to the exporters under various components such as Infrastructure Development, Quality Development and Market Development. Apart from this the Department of Commerce also supports exports through various schemes like Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme, Market Access Initiative etc. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).


External Affairs Minister’s visit to Iran to attend the swearing in ceremony of the President-elect H.E. Ayatollah Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, New Delhi, 04 August 2021.

At the invitation of the Government of Iran, External Affairs Minister will visit Iran on August 5-6, 2021 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the President-elect H.E. Ayatollah Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi on August 5, 2021.

During his visit, EAM will call-on the President, and on the side-lines, will also meet other leaders. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).


Phone call between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and H.E. Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel, New Delhi, 16 August 2021.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi spoke on phone today with H.E. Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel.

Prime Minister reiterated his congratulations to H.E. Bennett for assuming office as the Israeli Prime Minister earlier this year. 

The leaders expressed satisfaction over the remarkable growth in the bilateral relationship in recent years.  Prime Minister emphasised that India greatly values its robust cooperation with Israel in areas like agriculture, water, defence and security, and cyber-security.

Both leaders agreed on the potential to further expand cooperation, especially in the areas of high-technology and innovation.  They discussed concrete steps that could be taken in this regard and decided that the two Foreign Ministries would work on preparing a roadmap for further enriching the India-Israel Strategic Partnership.

Recalling that next year would mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, Prime Minister extended an invitation to H.E. Bennett to visit India. 

Prime Minister also conveyed his greetings and good wishes to H.E. Bennett and the people of Israel for the coming Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).


Indian Handloom Week in Kuwait (07-15 August 2021), Kuwait, 16 August 2021. 

Embassy of India, Kuwait concluded celebration of 'Indian Handloom Week in Kuwait' from 07-15 August, 2021, today on 16 August 2021 with an event focusing on the synergies between Indian textile heritage and Kuwaiti weaving tradition held at the iconic Sadou House. 

Beginning from the event launching the Handloom week on Sunday, 08 August 2021 at the Embassy Auditorium, the week-long celebration followed special events organized for celebration of the Handloom Week by Indian Heritage, Lulu Hypermarket, Highway Centre, and other showrooms to showcase the rich and diverse heritage of Indian Handloom products.

During his inaugural speech on 8th August, Ambassador of India to Kuwait H.E. Shri Sibi George underlined that this year India is celebrating 75th anniversary of its independence and Azadi ka Mahotsav is opportunity to draw the roadmap for country’s growth and future advancement. He highlighted the craftsmanship of India and appreciated the deep-rooted relationship between India and Kuwait and strong connect between India and Kuwait in various sectors including the Handloom sector. 

During the event a video documentary on Indian Handloom Industry was shown. A ‘Handloom Walk’ by community members and embassy officials showcasing diversity of handloom products from different parts of India was organized. 

The Indian textiles and apparel industry contributes 12% of export earnings and held 5% of the global trade in textiles and apparel. It is expected to grow to US$ 190 billion by FY 2026. The Handloom industry has a strong infrastructure with about 2.4 million looms of varied designs and construction. The export of handloom products from India is valued at US$ 350 million annually. Nearly 15% of cloth production in India is from the handloom sector. 

Handloom Export Promotion Council, the nodal agency for promotion of export of Handloom extended the dates of participation in Virtual India textile sourcing fair originally scheduled from 7-11 August till 13th August on demand from importers from Kuwait. 

The Closing Ceremony of Indian Handloom Week in Kuwait was held at Sadou House in Kuwait on 16th August. The event focused on celebrating the sharer textile heritage of India and Kuwait, with a display of Indian handloom clothes and products. 

 Embassy also ran a social media campaign to celebrate the Handloom week in Kuwait with hashtag #MyHandloomMyPride and #IndianHandloomWeekInKuwait requesting admirers of handloom to flaunt their selfies in handloom attires with these hashtag. Embassy received good response and a large number of community members and friends of India participated in the social media campaign. 

Ambassador has stressed that the Embassy will focus on Handloom Promotion Campaign throughout this year. Source: Embassy of India, Kuwait.  

India-Kuwait Solar Energy Forum, Kuwait, 24 August 2021.

Embassy of India, Kuwait, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and with support from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, organized “INDIA-KUWAIT SOLAR ENERGY FORUM” on 24th August 2021.  The objective of this event was to bring together all stakeholders in the fields of solar and renewable energy and to explore the potential of India-Kuwait cooperation in all aspects of solar energy, especially government, industry, research, investments and projects.  

2.  Ambassador of India to Kuwait Shri Sibi George inaugurated the event and spoke about the potential available for cooperation between India and the State of Kuwait and highlighted various opportunities available in the sector.  Dr.  Ajay Mathur, Director General, International Solar Alliance (ISA) gave the keynote address.  Dr.  Mohammad Al- Ramadhan, Deputy Director General for Strategic Thrust Programs, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) addressed the Forum and gave an overview of Kuwait’s vision for renewable energy sector.  Mr.  Parag Sharma, Vice-Chairman, CII National Committee on Atmanirbhar Bharat - RE Manufacturing and Founder & CEO, O2 Power also spoke on the occasion.  

3.    A panel discussion on Unlocking the Full Potential of India – Kuwait Solar Energy Cooperation was organized during the forum. The panellists included Dr. Arun Kumar Tripathi, Adviser, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) & former DG, National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), India, Dr. Ayman Al-Qattan, Renewable Energy Programme Manager, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), Kuwait, Shri Narinder Mohan Gupta, CGM (International Business), NTPC Ltd., India, Dr. Mohammed Sadeqi Senior Advisor, Engineering, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), Mr. Saransh Roy, Senior Investment Specialist, Invest India, Dr. Yaser Abdulraheem, Managing Director, Kuwait University  Semiconductor  Research  Facility,  Kuwait  ,  Mr.  Ravi Verma, Strategic Affairs Head, Avaada, India, Mr.  Pratik Desai, Chief Executive, Larsen & Toubro Kuwait.  

4.  India has set an ambitious target to achieve a capacity of 175 GW worth of renewable energy by the end of 2022, with a renewed target of 450 GW by 2030.  This is the world's largest expansion plan in the renewable energy sector.  India has achieved a milestone of 1,00,000 MW of installed Renewable Energy capacity, becoming only the 4th country in the world to do so. India has installed 45200 MW capacity of solar energy, witnessing seventeen times increase during the last 7 years. India is not just on par but will surpass the commitments made under Paris Agreement.  

5.  The event witnessed enthusiastic response with stakeholders from India and Kuwait participating in the event, in person as well as virtually. Source: Embassy of India, Kuwait.

Ambassador’s Interaction with Indian Nurses in Kuwait, Kuwait, 26 August 2021.

Ambassador interacted with Indian nurses working in the State of Kuwait, today, 26 August 2021, as part of the Embassy's continuous community outreach efforts, especially during these challenging times on account of the ongoing pandemic. In his brief address, Ambassador expressed his sincere gratitude to all the Indian Healthcare professionals working in Kuwait, particularly the Indian nurses, who have been at the forefront of this battle against COVID-19 and saving lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

 During the interaction, Ambassador emphasized the crucial role played by Indian nurses in not only treating those infected by COVID-19 but also in delivering preventive healthcare & ensuring success of COVID-19 vaccination programme in the State of Kuwait. In this regard, he urged them to continue to spread awareness on COVID-19 vaccination and encourage all those Indian nationals who are yet to register themselves for vaccination to do the same at the earliest. Various issues related to Indian nurses including streamlining of the recruitment process and return to Kuwait of stranded nurses and their family members were discussed during the interaction. Source: Embassy of India, Kuwait.


Exercise Zair-Al-Bahr Conducted Between Indian Navy and Qatar Navy, New Delhi, 15 August 2021.

The second edition of exercise Zair-Al-Bahr between the Indian Navy and Qatar Emiri Naval Force (QENF) was conducted from 09-14 Aug 21 in the Persian Gulf. The present edition of the exercise included a three-day harbour phase followed by a two-day sea phase. The sea phase comprised of tactical maritime exercises involving Surface Action, Anti-Piracy exercises, Air Defence, Maritime surveillance, Boarding operations and SAR exercises.

In the sea phase of the exercise, Indian Navy Stealth Frigate INS Trikand, QENF Missile Boats of Barzan and Damsah class, Fast-Attack Crafts of MRTP 34 class and Rafale Fighter Aircraft participated.

Indian Navy remains committed towards ensuring peace, stability and security in the region and is ever-ready to cooperate and collaborate with partner Navies on issues of Maritime safety and security. The 2nd edition of exercise Zair-Al-Bahr will contribute towards the Indian Navy’s efforts to consolidate Inter-operability and forge strong bonds of friendship with the Qatari Navy. The bilateral maritime exercise between two navies would further strengthen the maritime exchanges between the two countries and enhance maritime security in the region. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Meeting in Doha, New Delhi, 31 August 2021.

Today, Ambassador of India to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha. The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, on the request of the Taliban side.

2. Discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit to India also came up.

3. Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.

4. The Taliban Representative assured the Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).


Maiden Al-Mohed Al-Hindi Exercise Set to Begin Between Indian Navy and Saudi Arabia Navy, New Delhi, 12 August 2021.

The Indian Navy's visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was set rolling with the Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF), Rear Adm Ajay Kochhar visiting the Fleet Cdr of Royal Saudi Navy's Eastern Fleet, Rear Adm Majid Al Qahtani on 10 Aug 21. This was held at King Abdul Aziz Naval Base, which is the Headquarters for Saudi Eastern Fleet. The FOCWF also visited the King Fahd Naval Academy and met with the Commandant Rear Admiral Faisal Bin Fahd Al Ghufaily.

Dr Ausaf Sayeed, Indian Ambassador to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, visited INS Kochi at Al Jubail where he held a press conference onboard along with the FOCWF and the Commanding Officer of the ship.

On 11 Aug 21, the Indian Western Fleet Commander accompanied by the Indian Ambassador called on the Governor of Eastern Province of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saud bin Nayef Al Saud at Dammam.

On the operational front, gearing up for the maiden bilateral exercise 'AL – Mohed AL – Hindi', the team of Indian Navy met with counterparts of the Royal Saudi Navy for a co-ordinating conference at King Abdulaziz Naval base in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. For deeper understanding of each other’s operational practices, lectures by subject matter experts from both navies were also held. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).


NYU Abu Dhabi and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations sign agreement to establish Visiting Professorship, Abu Dhabi, 26 August 2021. 

Collaboration marks first of its kind in the Gulf, and forms part of outreach efforts to establish stronger academic and cultural ties.

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and the Indian Council for Cultural  Relations  (ICCR)  have  signed  a  historic  Agreement  to  establish  a  Visiting Professorship in Social Science at NYU Abu Dhabi.  Through the partnership,  NYUAD and  ICCR  will  collaboratively  appoint  faculty  members  from  Indian  universities  to  the ICCR  Visiting  Professorship.  The visiting faculty member will spend between 6 to 10 months undertaking research and teaching in the Division of Social Sciences at NYU Abu Dhabi. The agreement aims to promote broader engagement with India, a country that is strategically significant to the UAE. Indians represent the largest expatriate population in the UAE and India is one of the UAE’s largest trade partners. 

The agreement was signed on August 26 at NYUAD by NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann and Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor. NYUAD Provost Arlie Petters,  Deputy  Chief  of  Mission  to  the  UAE  Sandeep  Kumar  Bayyapu,  and  Second Secretary  (Press,  Information  &  Culture)  Sandeep  Kaushik  also  attended  the  signing ceremony.

Director-General of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) Dinesh Patnaik said: “I am delighted that a Visiting Professorship in Social Science is being established at NYU Abu  Dhabi  to  promote  academic  linkages  and  strengthen  the  age-old  cultural  ties between India and UAE. I am sure this professorship will help students develop a rich cross-cultural understanding and learn about the history, geography, philosophy, languages, art & heritage of each other’s countries.  As part of its mandate, ICCR is committed to promote learning and sharing of knowledge between the two nations and the establishment of this Visiting Professorship is a further step in this direction.” 

Ambassador Kapoor said: “I am very pleased to sign this Agreement on behalf of ICCR.  The Agreement, the first such one signed between the ICCR and a Foreign University in the GCC, is special also because it is being signed as India is celebrating 75 years of its Independence as ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ and the UAE is celebrating its golden jubilee as ‘The Year of 50th’. The strength of NYU Abu Dhabi’s research in social science will provide a useful platform for top academicians from India to present students with a more nuanced understanding of the country, and thereby contribute to strengthening India-UAE relations.  We are eager to make the agreement functional as early as possible.”

 “We are delighted to welcome eminent scholars from India's leading universities to NYUAD,” said NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann. “NYUAD already enjoys close educational and cultural ties with India, and we are delighted to enhance the relationship through this visiting professorship. At NYUAD, we are dedicated to upholding the ideals of tolerance and respect, and this includes driving deeper understanding of other cultures and traditions.  The relationships between the UAE and India are profound, and as a university in and of Abu Dhabi we look forward to playing our part to enhance academic exchange between the countries. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration and to welcoming our visiting professor from India to our highly supportive and enriching academic environment.”

 “The signing of the agreement represents a significant step in our efforts to further bolster our engagement with India,” said NYUAD Provost, Arlie Petters. “Our partnership with ICCR is based on our shared drive to foster stronger cultural and academic ties between our University and higher education institutions in India.   We believe that hosting visiting scholars from Indian universities at NYUAD will build and strengthen important academic relationships, and grow mutual understanding of each other’s culture and heritage.” 

NYUAD Dean of Social Sciences, Paula England, said: “Cross cultural collaboration is key to building stronger relationships built on mutual respect and appreciation. We are deeply committed to finding a myriad of opportunities to further strengthen our relationships with important cultural institutions such as the ICCR. We look forward to expanding our perspectives and gaining new insights into contemporary India through this meaningful exchange program.”

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a leader in India’s independence movement and independent India’s first Education Minister. It aims to foster cultural relations and strengthen mutual understanding between India and other countries. Source: Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi.


QUESTION NO.188, Indian Workers Returning from Gulf Countries, Rajya Sabha, New Delhi, 05 August 2021.


Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:-

(a) Whether a large number of Indian workers who were employed in Gulf countries have returned to India during COVID-19 crisis;

(b) If so, the details of such returnees, State-wise and month-wise since 2020;

(c) whether Government is contemplating any special plan for the livelihood of these workers; and

(d) if so, the details thereof and, if not, the reasons therefor?



(a) to (d) A statement is laid on the Table of the House.


Government commenced operations under Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) on 7 May 2020 to facilitate the return of stranded Indian nationals abroad in a phased manner. The Vande Bharat Mission is the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the Government for repatriation of our nationals stranded overseas. It was operated in close coordination involving Ministry of External Affairs and Ministries of Civil Aviation, Home Affairs, Health & Family Welfare as well as the concerned State Governments. These operations are being carried out through non-scheduled commercial flights arranged by Air India, chartered flights, ships of the Indian Navy as well as by land from the neighbouring countries.

As per estimates, about seven lakhs sixteen thousand Indian workers from six Gulf countries returned to India, under the Vande Bharat Mission during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Annexure-I).PDF file that opens in new window. To know how to open PDF file refer Help section located at bottom of the site.

During Covid-19 pandemic, our Missions/Posts proactively extended support to Indians in distress by providing assistance from Indian Community Welfare Fund and coordinating with community associations for Boarding & Lodging, Air passages and Emergency Medical Care. Further, they coordinated the repatriation of Indian stranded abroad under the VBM.

The robust institutional framework established by Government to address the needs of our workers in emergency situations and also towards ensuring the welfare and safety for protection of Indian workers working abroad including Gulf countries has been very useful. The e-Migrate system, Pre-Departure Orientation Programme, MADAD portal, Indian Community Welfare Fund, Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendras, Helplines at Indian Missions and Posts, Shelter Homes etc. are some of the mechanisms part of this framework.

The issue of allowing Indian workers to return to their destination countries has been taken up in high level meetings, including External Affairs Minister’s meetings with counterparts in Gulf countries. Our Embassies and Consulates are actively pursuing this matter with host Governments.

Government launched the SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) initiative for Indian nationals returning under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) on 30 May 2020. SWADES is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) which aims to create a database of the returning Indian nationals based on their skill sets and experience. The returning nationals are required to fill an online SWADES Skills card containing details related to the work sector, job title, employment and years of experience. The information collected via the skills card was used to facilitate placement opportunities by integrating with Skill India’s ASEEM (Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping) portal.

As on 8 June 2021, more than 30,900 nationals have registered for SWADES Skill Card. Job connect has been established with 6,704 candidates by employers registered on ASEEM as on 8 June 2021.

In addition, various State Governments developed ways and means to rehabilitate workers returned from Gulf countries. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

QUESTION NO.3849, Gulf Returnees, Lok Sabha, New Delhi, 11 August 2021.


Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a) Whether Government has any data on Gulf returnees since Covid 19 first wave in India;

(b) If so, the details regarding the same;

(c) Whether Government has any plans schemes for repatriation of all those Indians in Gulf region who has lost their employment as a result of Covid 19 crisis;

(d) If so, the details regarding the same;

(e) whether the Government has any plans to include ex gratia aid for families of expats who died due to Covid 19; and

(f) if so, the details regarding the same?



(a) & (b) The country-wise number of arrivals from Gulf countries to India under Vande Bharat Mission from May 7, 2020 to April 30, 2021 is as follows:

S. No.


Country-wise number of arrivals as of 30.04.2021














Saudi Arabia





(c) to (f) Government has taken many measures to assist in repatriation of Indian nationals from Gulf countries including those who lost their employment. For this purpose, Government of India launched Vande Bharat Mission in May 2020 under which lakhs of Indians have returned to India. Government of India also entered into air bubble arrangements with five countries in the Gulf, namely, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE so that to and fro travel between India and Gulf countries can continue to happen despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Our Embassies and Consulate in Gulf countries provided all help in repatriation of Indians from the Gulf region including by liaising with local authorities for flights and Covid testing; taking up issues of those who lost their employment with their employers, where necessary; providing food and medical help, including to those who lost their jobs; payment of tickets to those in distress as per guidelines of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), etc. The assistance extended under ICWF by our Missions and Posts focus on the needs of Indians abroad in situations of distress. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).


UNSC briefing on Syria (Chemical Weapons), Remarks by Amb. T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the UN, New York, 04 August 2021.

I thank Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Mr. Thomas Markram for today’s briefing. I also welcome the Representatives of Syria and of Iran to today’s meeting.

2. We have taken note of the contents of the latest 94th monthly report by Director General-OPCW. We note that the Foreign Minister of Syria has agreed to the proposal of DG OPCW on convening an in-person meeting, which will help in addressing and clarifying concerns with regard to OPCW’s mandated activities. In this context, Syria’s positive response to the DG’s proposal is a step in the right direction.

3. We also take note that the 25th round of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) related bilateral consultations, originally scheduled to take place on 18th   May in Damascus, have not yet taken place. We encourage Syria to continue its engagement and cooperation with the OPCW so as to resolve all pending issues expeditiously.

4. India views the Chemical Weapons Convention as a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument which serves as a model for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. We attach high importance to the CWC, and stand for its full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation.  We support collective efforts by all to ensure that the credibility and integrity of this Convention is maintained to the fullest.

5. India is against the use of chemical weapons by anybody, anywhere, at any time and under any circumstances. India has consistently maintained that any investigation into the use of chemical weapons must be impartial, credible and objective, following scrupulously the provisions and procedure embedded in the Convention, and in conformity with the delicate balance of power and responsibility enshrined under it to establish facts and reach evidence-based conclusions. We encourage OPCW to strictly adhere to these parameters.

6. Since we joined the Council in January this year, India has been repeatedly cautioning against the possibility of terrorist entities and individuals gaining access to chemical weapons. We are concerned at the frequent reports of resurgence of terrorist groups in the region. As we have learnt from the consequences of complacency against terrorism in the past, the international community cannot afford to ignore terrorist activities in Syria and the region.

7. When the Council came together last month by unanimously voting in favour of resolution 2585, we showed to the world that progress on the Syria file, even after a decade of conflict and impasse, is still possible, provided we were all willing to walk that extra step and work in tandem while taking cognizance of each other’s concerns. Let us show the same resolve with regard to the chemical weapons discussions. I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

UNSC Monthly Meeting on Yemen, Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, New York, 23August 2021.

I thank Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari and Under Secretary-General Martin Griffiths for their briefings. I thank Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore for sharing her insights on the situation of children in Yemen. I also welcome the presence of the Permanent Representative of Yemen to the United Nations in this meeting.

2. The continued military escalation in Marib has triggered counter-offensive operations in other provinces of Yemen. Violent clashes continue to rage along multiple frontlines across Yemen, which have undermined prospects of peace in the country. We call on all parties to refrain from military action that could lead to further escalation of hostilities. We also reiterate the importance of the full implementation of the Stockholm and Riyadh Agreements, which is an essential requirement for maintaining calm and stability in Yemen. Countries in the region are encouraged to continue their efforts and we support efforts in this direction.

3. While the security situation remains precarious, the humanitarian situation worsens with every passing day.  The recent rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths has triggered fears of a third wave of the pandemic. The recent torrential rains and widespread flooding have resulted in loss of life and property, and consequently worsened the humanitarian situation in the country. All these developments only underscore the need for regular, predictable and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and adequate funding for humanitarian operations on an urgent basis. India calls for enhanced and effective humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni population throughout the country without any discrimination.

4. We heard from Executive Director of UNICEF about the grave impact of the protracted conflict on Yemeni children. Women and children have suffered the most during these long years of the conflict in Yemen. Around 1.7 million children have been uprooted from their homes and displaced, multiple times. The ongoing conflict has also deprived them of access to immediate basic medical care, safe water and sanitation. Education of children in Yemen has also been severely disrupted. Forcible recruitment of children and their indoctrination through camps remains a cause for concern.  If this situation continues, it will have long-lasting impacts on an entire generation in Yemen, as well as on the future of Yemen.

5. The recent oil spill created by oil tanker DIA off the coast of Aden is a pertinent reminder for the urgent redressal of the situation surrounding the SAFER tanker. An oil spill in the Red Sea as a result of SAFER’s dilapidated condition would have a far more serious and long-lasting environmental and humanitarian impact on Yemen and the region. We therefore strongly support the call for urgent access to SAFER tanker for the UN team.

6. The time has come for the international community, in particular this Council, to step up its efforts for an immediate cessation of hostilities. As a long-standing friend of Yemen with historic ties that have been nurtured and strengthened over centuries, India reiterates its call for an urgent nationwide ceasefire followed by a robust and inclusive political process with full respect for Yemen’s unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Only such an approach can result in enduring peace in Yemen.

7. In this regard, we welcome the appointment of Hans Grundberg of Sweden as the new UN Special Envoy to Yemen and hope that he will infuse new momentum to the negotiations which have currently reached a stalemate. We urge all parties in Yemen to immediately end the fighting and engage with the Special Envoy in good faith without any preconditions, for the well-being of Yemeni people.

I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

UNSC briefing/consultations on Syria [Political/Humanitarian], Remarks by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, New York, 24 August 2021.

I join others in thanking Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen and Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths for their briefings. I also thank Mr. Khaled Erksoussi, Secretary General, Syrian Arab Red Crescent for his insights.

2. The Special Envoy’s efforts to end the stalemate concerning the work of the Constitutional Committee has not yet yielded positive results. The Small Body of the Constitutional Committee has not met since January 2021. The Constitutional Committee has an onerous task of preparing and drafting the constitutional reform for popular approval, which will contribute to the political settlement in Syria and the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015). We hope that the Special Envoy’s recent engagements, including his visit to Moscow, will help in convening the 6th meeting of the Small Body of the Constitutional Committee soon. An agreement among the three parties on the terms of reference and core rules of procedure for the 6th meeting would positively contribute to the process.

3. We believe that all major stakeholders need to engage in a constructive dialogue for the UN-led political track to move forward. The adoption of resolution 2585 last month proved that sincere efforts on behalf of all stakeholders can lead to positive outcomes.  We call on the regional and international interlocutors to extend their full support to the Special Envoy in his efforts to take the political track forward. We welcome the recent meetings involving the Astana guarantors and Special Envoy’s interactions in this regard.

4. We are concerned with the security situation in Syria, particularly in Daraa, the North-East and the North-West. As mentioned in the Secretary General’s report, military activity and hostilities have increased in recent months, seriously affecting the civilian population. The recent fighting in Daraa reflects the fragile nature of the situation. We believe that a nation-wide comprehensive ceasefire is paramount to the interest of the Syrian people.

5. We have been referring to the involvement of external actors in Syria and its impact on the growth of terrorism in both Syria and in the region. The designated terrorist groups such as ISIL and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have continued to gain in strength in Syria and their activities have been mentioned in Secretary General’s report. ISIL has continued to launch attacks in areas across Dayr al-Zawr, Hasakah and eastern rural Homs. ISIL has also targeted energy infrastructure in some instances. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham continues to have a dominating influence in Idlib. These are a cause for serious concern. It is imperative that all parties adhere to their international obligations to fight terrorism and terrorist organizations in Syria, as designated by the Security Council.

6.  India firmly believes that long-term security and stability in this region can only be achieved by preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We remain convinced that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and reaffirm our commitment to advancing a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned UN-facilitated political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

7. The briefing by USG Martin Griffiths has once again highlighted the grim humanitarian situation in the country. The Syrian people have suffered relentless violence and terror for more than a decade now. The economic situation has deteriorated further in recent months. Syrian women, children and elderly persons have been impacted in disproportionate ways. The pandemic has only made the situation worse. There is an urgent need to increase humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination, politicization or any preconditions.

8. What we need immediately is an active engagement that is both consistent with Syrian independence and its territorial integrity, and that addresses the urgency of the humanitarian issues to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. There is also an urgent need for concrete steps to address the hurdles that are obstructing the functioning of both cross-border and cross-line operations, in particular in the Northwest of Syria. The adoption of resolution 2585 provides another opportunity to strengthen humanitarian assistance, especially cross-line delivery of aid. We hope this will get further strengthened in the coming months.

9. India has extended developmental assistance and human resource development support to Syria through grants and lines of credits for developmental projects, supply of medicine and food, artificial limb fitment camps and capacity building training programs. We intend to stay the course and India reiterates its steadfast commitment to continue its support to the people of Syria.

Now, I resume my role as President of the Council. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

UNSC meeting on Iraq, by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, New York, 25 August 2021.

I thank Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert for her briefing. We appreciate the detailed briefing and the insights provided, and the support given by UNAMI to Iraq. I also welcome the Representative of Iraq to this meeting.

2. The upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq provide a valuable opportunity to further consolidate democracy in the country. A transparent, free and credible election, conducted in a violence-free environment, with high voter turnout will empower the new Government to implement reforms, improve accountability and meet the genuine aspirations of the Iraqi people, especially women and youth. We commend the steps taken by the Iraqi authorities and the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ensure a free, fair and inclusive electoral process, despite constraints due to the pandemic. The support, including electoral technical assistance, extended by UNAMI to IHEC in its efforts to ensure full preparedness for the elections is well appreciated.

3. India strongly supported the additional mandate provided to UNAMI to deploy an election monitoring team and to assist the Government of Iraq with the elections, including through a public information campaign to enhance election-related awareness among Iraqi voters. We take note of the update by the SRSG on the mobilisation of the team and call for its early deployment to ensure the effective fulfilment of the monitoring mandate provided by the Council. We appreciate the financial support extended by various member states to UNAMI and other UN agencies in implementing this mandate. In line with our strong democratic traditions, India has contributed to the democratic and electoral process in Iraq as an Observer of the 2018 elections. We hope to make a similar contribution during the upcoming elections as well.

4. We are also encouraged by the increasing number of women candidates who are participating in the elections. The credible steps taken by the government to promote women’s electoral participation and to prevent and address violence against women candidates must continue to ensure full and effective participation of Iraqi women in the political process.

5. Successful recovery, reconstruction and economic development of Iraq are constantly threatened by the menace of terrorism. The recent report of the Secretary General on ISIL has provided another stark reminder of the critical danger posed by ISIL to the stability of Iraq, and regional and international peace and security. ISIL remains active in Iraq with a changed modus operandi. The group’s core is now focussed on regaining ground in Iraq and Syria, while its affiliates are functioning independently. This evolving phenomenon is extremely dangerous and poses a new set of challenges to our collective efforts in the fight against ISIL and terrorism.

6. I express solidarity with all the victims and offer my deep condolences to their families in Iraq, who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the scourge of terrorism. India had tragically lost 39 of its nationals to ISIL's terrorism in Iraq.  Thousands other Indian nationals too had to be evacuated. We also recognise the immense sacrifices made by the people of Iraq, the security personnel in particular, in their fight against ISIL. We cannot afford to lower the guard against terrorist groups. In this regard, we welcome the continued international efforts to support Iraq in combating terrorism, restoring stability and reconstruction and in training the Iraqi forces.

7. The constructive dialogue and engagement between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional government on the budget, resource sharing, revenue sharing and border management has created a positive environment towards reaching a sustainable agreement on all outstanding issues. We encourage UNAMI to support and facilitate the dialogue as and when requested by both these governments.

8. India condemns military action in Iraq’s territory undertaken by its neighbours without the consent of the Government of Iraq under the pretext of counter-terrorism operations. There can be no violations of Iraq’s sovereignty, and its territorial integrity and independence must be fully respected.

9. We welcome the sustained joint efforts of the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait to locate, identify and repatriate the missing Kuwaiti and other nationals and missing Kuwaiti properties. Kuwait’s identification of 10 individuals from the remains sent by Iraq will help provide closure to the victims’ families. We commend the efforts made by the members of the Tripartite Mechanism and hope that the parties will continue to strengthen their cooperation until the matter is resolved to the mutual satisfaction of Iraq and Kuwait.

10. India appreciates the efforts of the Iraqi Government to contribute to regional stabilization and overcoming tensions through dialogue with neighbouring States. We wish Iraq success in its initiative to convene a regional conference for fostering friendly relations among counties in the region.

11. Let me conclude by reaffirming India’s steadfast support for a democratic, pluralistic, federal, unified and prosperous Iraq. As a longstanding friend, India will remain a willing partner of Iraq in its efforts to achieve economic recovery, peace and stability, national reconciliation and reconstruction.

I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of India at UNSC meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question, New York, 30 August 2021.

I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesl and for his briefing. I also note the presence of the representatives of Israel and Palestine in this Chamber.

2. We are concerned by the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip, which once again underscores the fragility of the ceasefire and the urgent need for addressing the underlying causes that have triggered the escalation. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the ceasefire and refrain from acts that could exacerbate tensions and worsen the security situation. We recognize the efforts made by the UN and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating into another military conflict.

3. I reaffirm India’s call for regular and predictable transfer of aid and other essential items to Gaza to ease the humanitarian situation and facilitate early reconstruction, as well as for appropriate use of such aid. It is also important that the international donor community supports the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian Authority. We take note of the incremental relaxation of restrictions for entry of commodities into the Gaza Strip and urge the parties to work together to ensure timely access to such relief for the Palestinians. This would create conditions which will help in preventing another round of escalation.

4. The recent agreement for the resumption of cash assistance to needy Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip is an important development as it would provide much needed relief for these families. We also appreciate the work of agencies like OCHA, UNRWA, WFP to ensure delivery of critical aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

5. The West Bank continues to witness incidents of violence and clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Both sides must desist from provocative action in the interest of peace and stability. We note the progress in the legal challenge to the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and underscore the need for respecting the historic status quo in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods. We also urge parties to refrain from unilateral actions that undermine the viability of the two-State solution.

6. Amidst these concerns, the decision by Israel to increase the number of work permits issued to Palestinians will help strengthen both the Palestinian and Israeli economies. Further, the recognition of COVID-vaccination certificates issued by the Palestinian Authority and the facilitation of passage of patients from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank are also positive signals. India welcomes all measures which create greater opportunities for the socio-economic development of the Palestinian people. India’s development cooperation with Palestine is also geared towards this objective. We have helped in building schools, setting up ICT and Vocational Training Centres, a Technology Park and a National Printing Press; and are supporting several other quick-impact community projects in Palestine.

7. High-level interaction between Israel and Palestine contributes to a better environment for the resumption of direct peace negotiations. We hope to see early commencement of these negotiations between the two sides, as they provide the best opportunity to resolve all final status issues and achieve a two-State solution. The international community, the Middle East Quartet in particular, has an important role to play in reviving these negotiations.

8. Given our long-standing and firm commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine, within secure, recognized and mutually agreed borders, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, India will remain fully supportive of all efforts to restart the peace process.

I thank you.

I will now resume my duties, as the President of the Security Council. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy