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India's Humanitarian Diplomacy (India’s World 27 March 2021)

India's Humanitarian Diplomacy (India’s World 27 March 2021)

Context:

  • India has been providing development assistance to its neighbors for decades, but the extent has grown exponentially in recent times.

Background:

  • Indian-made vaccines have gone to 82 countries.

  • Until recently, India was exporting most of the doses it was producing — a mix of donations to neighbours and other friendly nations, sales to countries like Saudi Arabia and the U.K., and contributions to the global COVAX initiative.

Summary of the Debate

India’s COVID diplomacy in the recent time:

  • PM Modi has reached out personally to counterparts in countries hardest hit by the virus.

  • Repatriation of Indian citizens by the Indian government.

  • Assistance to more than 30,000 foreign citizens stranded abroad.

  • Assembling rapid response and medical assistance teams.

  • Sending medical, food, and other essential supplies. 

  • India exporting two vaccines to several countries, India is set to fulfill 70 per cent of the world's coronavirus vaccine needs.

  • To deal with the pandemic, India successfully organised Virtual Summit of SAARC leaders and supported establishment of a Covid Fund where it contributed $10 million.

India is moving from a net recipient of global health benefits into a global healthcare provider:

  • The way India is emerging tall and strong taking giant steps as the world's pharmacy and being able to not only provide quality drugs at competitive prices but volumes that is very significant.

  • A global population of 7.7 billion need 16 billion doses of vaccine, and at the current trade, it will be 2025 unless a country like India steps in which we have.

  • It's remarkable that already supplied a vaccine to 69 countries.

  • India emerged as a major supplier of bulk drugs to the west.

  • In 2003, with Clinton foundation, India started supplying anti-retroviral drugs which saved tens of thousands of lives.

  • Since 2009, India has been supporting healthcare systems and expertise in Africa through the telemedicine programme under the aegis of its Pan-Africa e-network satellite-based enterprise.

  • There are certain effluent countries which are holding the vaccine and as of date more than 70 countries have not got a single dose.

  • The data of the World Economic Forum is saying that the USA has 4.8 billion doses lined up for manufacture in 2021. India has little bit less than that around 3.8 billion and China is less than us, but the point is, the USA is reserving primarily for its domestic use, the America first or the vaccine nationalism.

  • India is trying to make sure that every life matter and that is the role that India is playing.

  • It is not diplomacy because diplomacy means that we have an agenda our policy is health for all, we are saving lives.

India bridging a gap between nationalism and internationalism:

  • India is attempting to do that and doing it quite successfully.

  • There is no contradiction between India being a nationalistic and rising power and also showing international solidarity and humanitarian assistance.

  • Prime Minister has used the terminology “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” in the Indian context but his vision is global.

  • Every box of Indian vaccines that's being shipped across the world has the Sanskrit phrase 'Sarve Santu Niramaya'—'Let no one suffer from disease.

  • It's an extension of India's identity as a great nation which rises to the occasion and treats the world as one family.

  • It's very much a part of India’s ethos because not just in the case of health crisis, in terms of peacekeeping operations, India takes the lead, in terms of being the first responder in the neighbourhood, India takes a lead.

  • Due to this global pandemic, already more than two and a half million people have died and more than 120 million have been infected, this can get much bigger, but if we are providing the solution that will be remembered, it will add to our goodwill, to our soft power, it will have diplomatic benefits.

India’s commitment to its neighbourhood:

  • Indian ocean region is always a very important goal of our state craft and to that extent it's always been a number one priority.

  • Even our regular ODA (Overseas Development Assistance), the bulk of it goes to neighbouring countries and then to sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of Asia.

  • Bhutan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Maldives have always been main major recipients of Indian assistance.

  • India offset Chinese influence to a certain degree through its vaccine and humanitarian assistance.

  • All the neighbouring countries are thanking India, starting with the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, they are truly grateful because the Chinese are also like forcing countries to take their vaccine, but the clinical trials have not shown adequate efficacy.

  • Even towards western neighbour, when Prime Minister convened the first virtual SAARC summit in March 2020, he invited Pakistan also, despite the fact that Pakistan exports terrorism to India.

  • Prime Minister recently launched the Shahtoot Dam in Afghanistan, earlier we had built the Salma Dam there. So, these are huge hydroelectric projects there and we have built the afghan parliament.

  • India don't believe in territory migration and don't claim like the Chinese do with most of their neighbours.

  • Indian military and ships go out and hand out essential commodities and supplies for survival of people struggling from natural disaster.

  • India is now net provider of the security in this region especially the expanded Indo-Pacific and humanitarian instance is one of the means by which we are doing this.

Conclusion:

  • Amid this entire crisis, India has been playing an important role.  India’s Humanitarian diplomacy is likely to become a powerful and more enduring facet of India’s engagement with the world.

  • We need much more going forward because the world still thinks especially the western media are still talking about Chinese vaccines and Russian vaccines, there's less of a understanding about India and how we are filling the gap. So, we need to do better publicity of what we are doing, and we should be proud of our achievement.

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