Before the Russian invasion in Feb., over 23,000 Indians were living in Ukraine. Over 20,000 were students, according to reports. In March, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that about 22,000 Indians, including students, had been safely evacuated under Operation Ganga, launched for that purpose.
The majority of the students from India were studying medicine in Ukraine, which has provoked debate back home as to why so many students come to this little-known European nation for medical studies.
One of the prime reasons for this is the high cost of studying medicine in India, where hundreds of thousands of students battle for very few seats every year. The expenses to attain a medical degree in India can range anywhere from 2.5 million rupees to 10 million rupees. In Ukraine, students were able to obtain a similar degree for a fraction of the cost. More significantly, Ukraine was a gateway for such students to get jobs in Europe.
Once part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has universities and institutes imparting high-quality education, a hangover of the Soviet-era policies that invested a lot in education to attract students overseas, especially from Africa and Asia.
Some of the top medical institutes in Ukraine are Kyiv Medical University Of UAFM, National Medical University O.O. Bogomolets, Kharkiv National Medical University, and Vinnytsia National Medical University.
Besides students, this east European country has attracted Indians for business purposes. The professions that appealed to Indians were medicine, education, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and engineering.
India is the second-largest pharmaceutical drug supplier to Ukraine, and prewar statistics show that over 850 Indian pharma companies had registered 4,000 drug brands in the country.
Indian-born persons have also made it big in the country. Rajeev Gupta, an Indian, runs Ukraine's biggest pharma company, the Kusum Group, while another Indian, Sanjeev Bhagat, runs Euro Lifecare.
According to the latest reports, around 40-50 Indians are still in Ukraine, and most are unwilling to return.
With the war dragging on and Ukraine ravaged by Russia's attack, it remains to be seen how many of the Indians who fled would return and help rebuild the country if peace is finally restored.