Coronavirus | India has gained reputation of first, reliable responder: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister says PM’s vision has made country’s goodwill meaningful

Updated - March 17, 2021 11:37 pm IST

Published - March 17, 2021 11:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Wednesday said in the last few years, India had developed a reputation of being the first and reliable responder in the region, stating that the country had provided “Made in India” vaccines for COVID-19 to 72 countries. Medicines have been supplied to 150 nations, 82 of them as grants.

In a statement to the Parliament on the Vaccine Maitri initiative, Mr. Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision had provided an overarching framework to make the country’s goodwill meaningful in terms of practical initiatives and activities.

“We already saw that in our humanitarian assistance and disaster responses, whether in Yemen and Nepal or Mozambique and Fiji. As a result, in the last few years, India has developed a reputation of being the first and reliable responder in the region. We saw that too in critical negotiations of global importance like the Paris Agreement, where we had a key bridging role,” he said.

The Minister said the supply of vaccines abroad was based on the assessment of adequate availability at home. Citing initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance or the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, Mr. Jaishankar said when it came to Africa, India raised the level of its cooperation substantially at the IAFS-3 Summit in 2015.

“From the Caribbean to the Pacific Islands, the message has been clear that the Prime Minister of India not only has the willingness to engage them personally, but to back that up with concrete development programmes. It is this outlook of human-centric global cooperation that is the driving force of Vaccine Maitri,” he said.

Stating that under Mr. Modi’s leadership, India maintained low fatality and high recovery rates during the pandemic, the Minister said there was also an external beneficial impact of the country’s capabilities, with India meeting the spiking requirements of hydroxychloroquine, paracetamol and other relevant drugs across the world.

Mr. Jaishankar said the Prime Minister, in his virtual address to the UN General Assembly in September 2020, had declared that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity would be used to help all humanity in fighting the crisis. As early as March 15 last year, Mr. Modi took the initiative to hold a meeting of SAARC Heads of Governments to chart out a regional response, he said. “An important outcome was the creation of the SAARC COVID-19 Fund that supported the early exchanges on this issue within the region.”

During the pandemic, India has provided 14 online training and capacity building courses to 1,131 professional participants from 47 countries in partnership with institutions like AIIMS and PGI-Chandigarh. While an exclusive course was held in Bangla for Bangladeshi professionals, another one was conducted by the Armed Forces Medical Services for military doctors in South-East Asia.

“The House should recognise the enormous feeling for India that our initiative has generated. Those sentiments have naturally been expressed by leaders and prominent personalities of many nations. But more than that, our Ambassadors feel every day the warmth of ordinary people across the world for India. In the truest sense, this has been people-centric diplomacy at work,” he said.

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