India has always lived by the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, translated as “The world is my family.” True that spirit, India became the go to nation for major evacuation from the strife ridden Yemen and more recently, India has provided full support to Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake that ravaged Nepal.
As the civil war broke out in Yemen, India responded with air-sea evacuation operations named Operation Raahat, in which 3 Indian Navy ships, 3 IAF and 2 Air India aircrafts participated, evacuated 5600 individuals including people from other countries apart from Indian nationals. A total of 23 countries sought help from India which included the US, Sri Lanka, France and Britain. Although it was not one the biggest humanitarian and disaster relief missions conducted like those during invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the manner in which it was conducted and how countries including United States of America depended on the Indian mission to save its nationals, is something that speaks volumes of Indian diplomacy and response to all countries at the time of need.
In Yemen, India performed on its turn to giving back when it rescued nationals from countries like France, United States of America and Britain for their financial support in the past. In a rare show of collaboration between India and Pakistan rescued nationals of both nations in their evacuation operations. In the final tally, India rescued close to 1000 foreign nationals belonging to 41 countries. By the time India finished Operation Raahat, US had closed its embassy in Yemen and moved its diplomats and military personnel but didn’t not start any operations to rescue its citizens and sought help from India to rescue them. Meanwhile, India moved its Embassy to a different location from the capital of Sana’a post completion of the rescue operations.
More recently, as the massive earthquake hit Nepal, India rose to the occasion to help Nepal given its proximity, resources and disaster management capabilities. Operation Maitri, was yet another opportunity for India to lay aside its differences and work with China in rescuing survivors and carrying out extensive relief operations. India’s efforts to rescue its citizens stranded in Nepal has found unlikely commendation from the Chinese defence agencies as well. Yet again, India chose to employ the civilian and military aircraft for the rescue efforts which has consistently worked well in the past. Given its capabilities in search and rescue operations, India ramped up operations within the first 72 hours after the disaster struck which is critical in rescue.
The Prime Minister has been personally involved with the efforts in Nepal and has been holding daily review meetings on the status of the operation . The government has ensured continuous transmission of information and has been holding daily media briefings as well. Operation Maitri was also a chance for India to set an example in neighbour relations. India and Nepal have always enjoyed cordial relations and as the need arose, India responded fully and swiftly. Other than the humanitarian aspect, it was a strategic success for India to demonstrate to the world about its mission to do whatever was needed in the face of a major crisis.
In a mission fraught with lack of time and resources, India’s success that was noticed around the world and not just in Asia. India has demonstrated that it has the potential to emergeas a key provider of humanitarian and disaster relief in most scenarios. India proved that it has expanded its military capabilities and rescue operation capabilities and could emerge as an expert in such missions. The success of Operation Raahat and subsequently that of Operation Maitri shows how India has grown from strength to strength since its operations during the Kuwait war to Yemen and now Nepal. By responding to so many other nation’s plea for help in the Yemen Civil War, India also scored victories against nations with whom it continues to share a somewhat evolving relationship. By responding to Nepal even before an official request for help came, India scored a victory in the hearts and minds of people. This foreign policy win can help India in increasing its influence beyond the sub-continent into the world stage. Timing is of vital importance and this timely response by India could become a key driver in the present and in the future as India looks to emerge as a global player in everything from economy to security. India just showed that it doesn’t consider all the world is a stage, it believes that all world is family.
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