Like in neighboring Ukraine, Indian students find medical studies in Belarus affordable and easier to get admission into universities and colleges there. Consequently, the Indian presence in the East European country is dominated by the student population.
Belarus shares a border with war-ravaged Ukraine, and its leader Alexander Lukashenko is a staunch ally and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Due to India's historical relations and proximity to the erstwhile Soviet state, students from India find a warm welcome in Belarus.
The Belarusian State Medical University, Gomel State Medical University, and the Grodno State Medical University are some institutes where Indian students find admission.
According to the latest data from the Indian embassy in Belarus, there are just under 1,000 students still in Belarus. However, many of them are anxious to return home due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Excluding the student population, there are less than a couple of hundred Indians in Belarus, most working there with companies, as diplomats, or running their enterprises.
To unite the small Indian community in the country, the Indian Embassy has created a WhatsApp group called 'India in Belarus.'
Indian culture was propagated in Belarus during the Soviet era. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, the cultural influences can be seen in the proliferation of yoga schools, Indian dance studios, and religious organizations.
The Hindu religion has established a foothold in Belarus, as is evident from the entry of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) and Brahmakumaris there. Indian religious texts have always held a fascination for Russia and its neighbors. A Belarusian scholar Mikhail Mikhailov wrote a book titled "Key to Vedas," which was translated into English. Another Belarusian writer and poet, Edgar Kulikov, translated the book 'First Mandala' of 'Rig-Veda' from Sanskrit into the Belarusian language.
Associations actively propagating Indian culture in Belarus and looking after the interests of the Indian community there are the Indian Society in Belarus and the Indo-Belarus Friendship Society.