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Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)

Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)

Why in news?

  • The Vande Bharat Mission (VBM), which started repatriating Indians stranded abroad due to Covid-19 and the resultant lockdowns since May 2020, has become one of the largest evacuations of civilians by a country.
  • Further, the Indian Navy has also launched Operation “Samudra Setu” (sea bridge) to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas.

About Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)

  • VBM has been launched in 2020 to bring back stranded Indians from foreign destinations due to Covid -19 pandemic.
  • It is a colossal evacuation programme.
  • The first phase of the VBM, which lasted 11 days from May 7 to 17, was aimed at destinations with a high concentration of Indians.
  • National carrier Air India, along with its budget carrier Air India Express (AIE) carried out the bulk of air transfers under the mission.
  • AIE used its fleet to lift agricultural products, mainly fruits, and vegetables (the most sought-after items among the NRI Indians), to West Asian countries, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
  • Besides, helping distressed rural farmers and the NRIs, the aim of the mission is to keep the supply chain intact.
  • It allows carriers of both countries to fly passengers either way without any restrictions.
  • Reciprocal in nature, the bilateral pact aims to benefit airlines from both countries with faster repatriations.
  • Due to a recent spurt in Covid-19 cases in the country and many countries of late, patronage has come down in the VBM flights.

Operation Samudra Setu I and II

  • The program named Samudra Setu by Indian navy entails to bring back around two thousand Indians in two ships during the first phase of evacuation.
  • Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Airavat, Shardul and Magar participated in this operation.
  • Indian Navy has launched Operation Samudra Setu-II for shipment of Oxygen-filled containers to India.
  • Seven Indian Naval ships viz. Kolkata, Kochi, Talwar, Tabar, Trikand, Jalashwa and Airavat have been deployed for shipment of liquid medical oxygen-filled cryogenic containers and associated medical equipment from various countries.
  • Two ships, the INS Kolkata and INS Talwar, have entered the Port of Manama, Bahrain, to carry back 40 tonnes of liquid oxygen to Mumbai.                    Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)
  • The INS Jalashwa is enroute to Bangkok while the INS Airavat is on its way to Singapore on similar missions

Operational Issues Faced

  • Understaffed Indian embassies
  • Confusion around the email ID from which the mails were received
  • Lack of social distancing norms in place while travelling
  • Non-responsive payment gateway

India’s  Evacuations in the Past

  • Evacuation from the Gulf after Invasion of Kuwait(1990-91)
    • The 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait was carried out from August 13, 1990 to October 20, 1990 after the Invasion of Kuwait. Air India helped evacuate 170,000 people by civil airliners.
    • The operation was carried out before the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait.
    • Air India, the flag carrier Indian airline entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner.
  • Operation Sukoon in 2006 during Lebanon War
    • Operation Sukoon was an operation carried out by the Indian Navy to evacuate Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals, from the conflict zone during the 2006 Lebanon War.
    • It was one of the largest evacuations conducted by the Indian Navy in which a total of more than 2000 people were evacuated.                      Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)
  • Operation Safe Homecoming in 2011 during Libyan Civil war
    • Operation Safe Homecoming was launched by the Indian government on 26th February, 2011 to evacuate its citizens, fleeing from the Libyan Civil War.
    • The air-sea operation was conducted by the Indian Navy and Air India. Around 15,000 civilians were rescued in the operation.
  • Operation Maitri in 2015 during Nepal earthquake
    • Operation Maitri was a rescue and relief operation, carried out by the government of India and Indian armed forces in the aftermath of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.
    • The Indian Armed Forces evacuated more than 5000 persons, while nearly 800 foreign tourists were provided transit visas.                              Vande Bharat Mission (VBM)
  • Operation Raahat in 2015 during Yemen Crisis
    • It was launched by the Indian Armed Forces, to evacuate 4,640 Indian citizens and 960 foreign nationals of 41 countries from Yemen during the 2015 Yemen Crisis.
    • The evacuation took place both by sea and the air.


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