International goodwill for India
Rup Narayan Das

At a time when India is confronted with unprecedented crisis situation due to the surging spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, it augur well that the country is receiving bounties of goodwill from countries the world over to fight the dreaded virus with resolve and fortitude. It is heartening that more than 40 counties countries have reached out to India to help mitigate the crisis situation. Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla recently said supplies were expected from Egypt, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and Guyana, apart from big powers like USA, United Kingdom Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

In telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Modi which was held on 26th April, the US President JoeBiden told him that the USA is sending a whole series of help that India needs in its battle against COVID-191. President Biden said that India did the same when USA was in need last year. It may be recalled that the outbreak of Covid-19 last year witnessed unprecedented solidarity between India and the USA. In a telephonic conversation with President Trump on 4 April 2020, Prime Minister Modi reiterated India’s solidarity with the USA in overcoming the global crisis together and to resolutely and effectively combat Covid-19. The words of intent were quickly demonstrated in concrete action when Modi rescinded an extant domestic law that banned the export of hydroxychlroquinine (HCQ) to USA at the request of President Trump for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in the USA. President Trump reciprocated the goodwill gesture when the USA handed over 100 ventilators, valued about $1.2 million to India on June 16 to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. There are at least three possible vaccines on which the American and Indian companies are working together.2

In the rent telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Biden spoke at length with and conveyed solidarity with India in its fight against the viral disease. The USA has already made available series of help including lifesaving drugs and machinery that India needs to combat the massive surge in COVID-19 cases. Two aircrafts from USA landed on 30 April bringing a large quantity of essential supplies. The first flight brought 423 oxygen cylinders, 210 pulse oximeters, 1, 84, 000 Abott rapid diagnostic test kits and 84,000 N-96 face masks. The second flight brought 17 large oxygen cylinders, 7,00,000 Abbott rapid diagnostic test kits.3 In addition to US government supplies, the US private sector has also mobilised aid for various COVID-19 resources in India. The US pharmaceutical company Gilead announced recently that it would donate 450, 000 vials of its injection remdesivir to India, and provide its voluntary licencing partners in India with technical assistance to rapidly scale up production of remdesivir in the wake of the surge in Covid-19 in the country and the demand for the antiviral drug. Remdesivir is one of the investigational drugs prescribed under restricted emergency use in treating COVID-19 patients in India. 4

Yet in another development Prime Minister Modi spoke to Russian President on 28th.5 The two leaders discussed the evolving pandemic situation and President Putin expressed solidarity with the people and government of India. He also conveyed that Russia would extend all possible support in this regard. Prime Minister Modi thanked President Putin and said that the “prompt Russian support to India was a symbol of our enduring partnership.” A Russian military aircraft carrying more than 22 tonnes of equipment including 20 oxygen production units, 75 ventilators, 150 medical monitors and 200,000 packs of medicine arrived in India on 29 April. It is reported that the first consignment of Russian made Sputnik V doses is expected to reach India very soon. A flight from U.K. arrived in India on 30 April carrying 280 oxygen concentrators and 40 ventilators.

Singapore government also sent a consignment of oxygen cylinders to support India’s COVID-19 pandemic response. The Republic of Singapore Air Force airlifted the cylinders by C-130 aircraft from Singapore to India. The second minister of foreign affairs Dr Maliki Osman handed over the two plane loads of oxygen cylinders to India’s High Commissioner in Singapore. Dr Osman said, “We have all witnessed in the past year how this pandemic is a trans- boundary threat”. He also thanked Indian government for continuing to work with Singapore throw-out the pandemic by keeping supply chains open and essential goods flowing. Besides the Singapore government, Singapore investment firm Temasek has also sent medical equipment to India.6

Australia also unveiled an initial support package for India’s COVID-19 response including 500 ventilators. The assistance was announced jointly by foreign minister Marise Payne and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who committed more medical equipment, including 100 oxygen concentrators urgently within a few days. 7 In the meanwhile the medical supplies from Australia have also been received. Japan, one more close friend of India also expressed solidarity with India, when Prime Minister Modi had a telephonic conversation with his Japanese counterpart Youshide Suga on 26th April.8 Japan is expected to provide 300 oxygen concentrators and 300 ventilators.

Other countries also chipped in to help India mitigate the crisis. A shipment containing 700 units of oxygen concentrators and 365 ventilators arrived from Ireland. The European Union countries also contributed in India’s efforts to fight the pandemic. A C-130 aircraft of Romanian Air Force also brought oxygen and other medical supplies as a part of joint Romania-EU efforts to assist India. 9 France on also delivered to India 28 tonnes of ready to use medical supplies including eight large oxygen plans as part of its first phase of its solidarity missions to India which is grappling with record Corona virus cases.

Taiwan also sentessential medical supplies to India to help mitigate the crisis. The first batch of medical supplies consisting of 50 oxygen concentrators and 500 oxygen cylinders landed in New Delhi recently on a Boing 747 of China Airlines, the government owned airline of Taiwan. Taiwan Foreign Minister of Taiwan Joseph Yu that Taiwan had bought 150 oxygen concentrators and aim to send them to India to help it to deal with massive increase in COVID-19 cases and was also looking at providing further aid. “Taiwan’s deployment of medical supplies is a testament to the close collaboration and partnership across multiple agencies on both sides,” said a statement from Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre, Taiwan’s Representative Office in India. Significantly, it may be mentioned that India has not yet accepted Beijing’s offer of aid and assistance that were conveyed again both in a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Prime Minister Modi and in a phone call between Foreign Minister Dr S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. 10

The outpouring of moral and martial support to India is unprecedented and speaks of India as benign soft power committed to world peace and development. When most countries in the world suffered the pandemic, India reached out to them and now the entire world has risen to help India. If this is the bounty of goodwill that the country is enjoying, it can be hoped that in the event of attack on its territorial integrity and national security, the entire world will stand behind India to impel the adversary.

Endnotes
  1. ‘Telephonic conversation Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi and H.E. Joseph R.Biden, President of United States of America”,https://mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/33824/Telephone_conversation_between_Prime_Minister_Shri_Narendra_Modi_and_HE_Joseph_R_Biden_President_of_the_United_States_of_America
  2. Rup Narayan Das, ”The Importance of India and the Growing Chinese Threat”, The Ripon Forum, October, 2000, Volume 54, No 4,https://issuu.com/riponsociety/docs/ripon_forum_-_october_2020
  3. KallolBhattacharjee&DinakarPeri, “Medical equipment flown in from U.S.; U.K.; Romania and Ireland”, The Hindu. May 1, 2021
  4. “US’s Gilead to donate 450 remdesivir vials”, The Hindustan Times, 28th April. 2021
  5. “ Telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President of the Russian the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin,”https://mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/33826/Telephone_Conversation_between_Prime_Minister_Shri_Narendra_Modi_and_President_of_the_Russian_Federation_HE_Vladimir_Putin
  6. “Singapore sends Oxygen Cylinders to support India’s fight against Covid-19”, https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/singapore-sends-oxygen-cylinders-to-support-india-fight-against-covid-19-1795929-2021-04-29
  7. “Australia unveils Covid support package for India”, The Hindustan Times, 28th April
  8. “Phone call between Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi and H.E. Mr. SugaYoshihide, Prime Minister of Japan”,https://mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/33823/Phone_call_between_Prime_Minister_Shri_Narendra_Modi_and_HE_Mr_Suga_Yoshihide_Prime_Minister_of_Japan
  9. “India receives medical supplies from Russia,.Uk. UAE, Romania amid Covid Surge”,https://www.indiatoday.in/coronavirus-outbreak/story/india-medical-supplies-russia-uk-uae-covid-surge-1796457-2021-04-30
  10. AnanthKrisfnana, “ Xi Jinping sends message to Modi, offers China’s support and assistance”, The Hindu ,https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/xi-jinping-sends-message-to-modi-offers-chinas-support-and-assistance/article34449971.ece
    Image Sources https://www.indiatoday.in/coronavirus-outbreak/story/india-medical-supplies-russia-uk-uae-covid-surge-1796457-2021-04-30

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