Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that New Delhi’s Covid-19 vaccine outreach raised its stature in the world, and also generated great international goodwill.
India sent indigenous vaccines to 72 countries, in form of commercial deals and gifts. The outreach named “Vaccine Maitri” started with countries in the neighbourhood, followed by Gulf, African, and CARICOM countries. New Delhi also sent vaccines under the COVAX deal.
Jaishankar, to this end, said while addressing the Rajya Sabha: “The House should recognise the enormous feeling for India that our initiative has generated. Our ambassadors feel the warmth of ordinary people across the world for India everyday. This has been people-centric diplomacy at work in the truest sense.”
“The world sees not just the selfless outlook of India but also of the quality of our products and capabilities.”
India supplied drugs like HCQ and Paracetamol to 150 countries — of which 82 were gifts.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took the initiative of holding a meeting of SAARC heads of government in order to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Earlier this year, another meeting of health secretaries of SAARC and Indian ocean countries took place — in which PM Modi suggested a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses and a regional air ambulance pact.
Jaishankar said, “Our reputation as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’ has been reinforced in that process. So has the faith in ‘Make in India’. But more than the vaccines themselves, our policies and conduct have emerged as a source of strength for the stressed and vulnerable nations of the world”.
“They can see that there is at least one major nation that truly believes in making vaccines accessible and affordable to others in dire need.”
As part of increasing capacity, India conducted 14 e-ITEC courses in partnership with premier institutions like AIIMS and PGI Chandigarh. These 14 courses had a total of 1131 professional participants from 47 countries. There was even an exclusive one conducted in Bangla for Bangladeshi professionals. Interestingly, the Armed Forces Medical Services conducted a programme for military doctors in Southeast Asia.