India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has advised the Indian students, stranded in America due to the sudden closure of universities and the ongoing lockdown back home because of the coronavirus pandemic, to stay where they are and assured them help in this crisis situation.
Mr Sandhu addressed the concerns of over 500 Indian students who attended the Instagram Live session hosted by the Indian Embassy on Saturday. The session was coordinated by India Student Hub Team.
There are an estimated 250,000 Indian students in the US, a significantly large numbers of whom are stranded due to the sudden closer of the universities and asked to vacate their hostels and follow stay-at-home order issued by the authorities to contain the spread of the pandemic in the country.
The Indian government imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 24 to stem the tide of the fast-spreading disease and also suspended rail, road and air services during the period.
"At this time the most advisable thing to do is stay where you are," Mr Sandhu said in response to a question during the live session. Assuring the students that the Indian embassy is in constant communication with the US Government on the issue of their visa, he said that they can make travel plans to India once the situation improves.
"My strong advice to you is to stay where you are. We are in touch with you .... We will help you out," he said.
Mr Sandhu tweeted, "an engaging interaction with Indian students in the US on Instagram Live this afternoon."
"Young students are our future and we look for innovative ideas from them," he said.
Soon after the coronavirus outbreak in the US, the Indian embassy and its five consulates started a student-specific help line to address their concerns in this emergency situation.
The embassy has also started a Peer Support Line, which is run by Indian students.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, the number of COVID-19 fatalities in the US has crossed 20,000 and over 530,000 Americans have tested positive for the disease, that has wreaked havoc across the globe.