Union minister for parliamentary affairs Pralhad Joshi on Monday told reporters that “90% of Indians who study medicine abroad fail to clear qualifying exams in India (NEET).”

When asked further questions, he said, “This is not the right time to debate why students are moving out to study medicine,” reported The Times of India. 

Those who pursue MBBS abroad are mandated to pass Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE) to be able to work as doctors in India, according to the rulebook.

Also Read: Russia hits Ukraine airfields, fuel supplies in new attacks

The minister’s remarks come as India works towards evacuating its citizens stuck in Ukraine (most of whom are students) as the country faces a Russian invasion. To be specific, nearly 18,000 Indian students were studying in the country at the time tensions between Russia and Ukraine flared. As of February 26, there were around 14,000 Indians stranded in Ukraine.

Speaking of evacuation efforts, Joshi said that India had deployed additional staff at its embassy there to ensure the safe return of Indian nationals. 

“We are in touch with the Ukraine govt and Russia on a daily basis, and we will soon bring all students back home,” he further said, while admitting that Indians in Kharkiv and Kyiv were facing trouble and were unable to get food and water.

Also Read: World’s largest plane destroyed in Ukraine during Russian invasion

Speculations regarding Indian students being targetted after the country abstained from voting on a resolution against Russia at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Joshi said the government is yet to verify such videos being shared on social media, Times of India reported.

The ministry of external affairs said on Monday that six Air India flights have evacuated about 1400 Indian citizens from Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. The spokesperson said that the situation on ground continues to be complex. 

“Evacuation efforts on. Situation on ground continues to be complex and fluid, some of them quite concerning, but we’ve been able to accelerate our evacuation process. About 8000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine since we issued advisory, not since conflict began,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. 

Also Read: Ex-army chief tells Indians to stay at bomb shelters as Russia attacks Ukraine

India is also sending four Union ministers as the prime minister’s envoys to Poland, RomaniaHungarySlovakia and Moldova to oversee the evacuation of Indians from Ukraine. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed that an Indian student had been killed due to shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, as the country remains in conflict with Russia. The Indian, been identified as Naveen Shekharappa, was reportedly studying medicine at the Kharkiv National Medical University.