Evacuation of Indians from Ukraine Amidst War

As Russia and Ukraine went into war against each other, thousands of Indians remain stranded in Ukrainian cities which are under shelling from Russian forces. Students form the bulk of the Indians living in Ukraine, who are pursuing higher studies from universities in that country. To ensure their safe return to India, before a war breaks out, Tata Group owned Air India operated special flights to Kyiv. However, most critics have termed it as too little too late.

On the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the first special Air India flight from Kyiv flew from Kyiv and reached Delhi the next morning. The first batch consisted of 240 passengers, mostly students, who had to pay a hefty fee to return to their country. The flight left Kyiv on 22nd February and landed in New Delhi in the early hours of 23rd February. A Ukraine International Airlines flight also reached safely on Thursday morning, 24th February, with 182 Indian citizens, mostly students. More Air India special flights were scheduled on 24th, 26th February and 6th March. But as Ukraine closed their airspace on 24th February, the scheduled Air India flight had to return from midway. More than 20,000 Indians are still stranded in Ukraine, waiting for their chance to catch a flight back home..

As there is no way to return home by air from Ukraine, thousands of Indians set on foot or local transport to reach Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Hungary, the countries which share land border with Ukraine. Air India now focuses on bringing back stranded Indians from these countries. The second Air India evacuation flight with 250 Indians touched Delhi on Sunday, Feb 27, from the Romanian capital, Bucharest. The third Air India evacuation flight reached Mumbai the same day with 219 Indians from Budapest, the capital of Hungary. However, more than 400 students have lined up at the Ukraine-Poland border, in freezing conditions, unable to cross-over to Poland. Though border authorities allowed Ukrainians to cross-over, most Indians were barred from entering Poland.

More flights are expected to follow in coming days from neighbouring countries of Ukraine, to bring back Indians fleeing Ukraine. Though the Indian Government is proud to evacuate 2000 Indians from Ukraine, a lot more is to be done, as more than 18,000 Indians are still stranded in Ukraine, most in cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv on the main area of clashes. Overall, as many critics say, the evacuation effort by India is yet to be up to the mark.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Lata Mangeshkar: A voice which will live forever

6th February 2022 is the day, when the greatest singer of all times in Indian history, Lata Mangeshkar, passed away. Aged 93 at the time of death, her seven decade long contribution to Indian music will be remembered forever by all Indians. She recorded songs in over 36 Indian languages, all across the subcontinent, binding India through her songs.

Lata Mangeshkar was born in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in a Maratha family. Her father, Deenanath, was a classical singer in Konkani and Marathi, and theatre actor. Her name was Hema Mangeshkar at the time of her birth. Her parents renamed her as Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays. She received her first music lesson from her father. However, her father passed away when she was only 13. It was then, in 1942, she started her career in singing. In her early days, she also had to act in some roles, apart from singing, but quickly her main focus became on singing only.

Lara’s own style of singing together with her melodious voice became famous all over India within a short span of time. Songs for Bollywood films, patriotic songs, devotional songs, folk songs, songs in regional languages, all spread among the people in all over India. She worked with various renowned music directors like RD Burman, SD Burman, Shiv-Hari, Anand-Milind, Laxmikant-Pyarilal, A.R. Rahman, as well as with co-singers like Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, and Bhupen Hazarika. How many songs she has sung remains a debate even today, with many sources pointing to over 25,000.

Lata Mangeshkar won Padma Bhushan in 1969, followed by Padma Vibhushan in 1999. She won four Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Award, two Filmfare Special Awards and Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. She also received Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989, NTR National Award in 2007 and ANR National Award in 2009. France conferred on her its highest civilian award, Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, in 2007. In recognition for the contribution for India, she was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award, India’s highest civilian honour, back in 2001.

Lata Mangeshkar and her songs will remain among Indians forever. Many Indian singers consider her to be their idol, and got inspiration to take up singing to a global platform. Her death will bring an end to a golden era of Indian music. It is now our duty to promote the ideals followed by Lata Mangeshkar and listen to her songs, and promote them to our future generations.

Written by – Himadri Paul