On Monday, India rescued more than 1,000 people by plane and ship, the most on a single day since Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen on March 26.

India has been asked by 26 nations - including the United States - to help get their citizens out of the conflict zone.

Read More: 18 dead in Yemen fighting as Saudi-led warships shell rebels

Yet New Delhi struggled for several days to ramp up its rescue effort and had to hire a ship to make the first evacuation of its nationals from the port of Aden as fighting escalated there.

Government insiders draw unfavourable comparisons with China's swifter evacuation of 570 nationals on warships that was completed on March 31.

Read More: US urges citizens to flee Yemen by sea

An Indian navy patrol vessel was only able to go in on the following day.  "The Chinese were way ahead in the rescue process," said one senior foreign ministry official, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

India's rescue effort got off to a false start, with planes commandeered from Air India sitting idle in Muscat, Oman, because it was impossible to negotiate the opening of a safe air corridor with the Saudis.

Read More: Yemen: 3300 Indians evacuated so far
Things only really got moving with the deployment of foreign office Minister V.K. Singh - a retired army chief - to a forward operations base in Djibouti, across the Gulf of Aden, from where air force C-17 transporters have picked up evacuees brought out by Air India from Sanaa and flown them home.

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