- “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” (World is one family) has been a key ingredient of India’s outreach to the world from time immemorial. It has also acquired a greater salience in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. India has its own problems even if it had taken early measures to counter the pandemic. However, India’s recent medicine diplomacy will be remembered by the world in times to come.
Medicinal supplies –
- However, India extended the biggest humanitarian outreach especially at a time when it had to cater to its 1.3 billion people facing the Corona pandemic.
- India sent medicine supplies like Paracetamol and HydroxyChloroquine to over 120 countries including the US and several other western countries.
- In fact India had to take stock of the availability at home and hence regulated the export of some medicines. In the case of US, India supplied the medicines and won the praise from the US which later reciprocated by sending 2000 ventilators. They also promised to share the vaccine with India first whenever it becomes available.
- Similarly, the leadership of Brazil and Israel thanked India for healing those who were sick through timely delivery of essential medicines.
Proactive diplomacy at the time of crisis –
- India has a very special and strategic partnership with the region especially with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and at the request of Kuwait it sent a Rapid Response Team of doctors and large number of nurses and paramedics to UAE. India rose to the occasion.
- India organised a successful Virtual Summit of SAARC leaders to effectively and jointly deal with the virus and supported establishment of a Covid Fund where it contributed $10 mn.
- PM Modi spoke to Crown Prince Salman to organise the virtual G20 Summit with a clear focus on international solidarity and collaboration to fight the virus as well as to revive the global economies among other challenges.
- Later India also attended the British initiative GAVI -an “International Vaccine Alliance” and contributed $ 15 mn to it. It is also involved in several other initiatives and research for the development of a vaccine and trials at the earliest.
- Although WHO has been under fire for its alleged collusion with China, India has supported it and its reforms to rise to the exceptional challenges unlike the US that has decided to withdraw from it and stopped funding.
India – ‘Pharmacy of the world’ –
- India is often called the “Pharmacy of the World”. In order to provide succour and assistance to its partners especially in Africa and the developing world India has continued to supply lifesaving drugs at highly competitive prices.
- It also emerged as a major supplier of bulk drugs to the west and even faced their ire for alleged IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) violations even if it carried those out in accordance with the granted exemptions.
- Given its strides in health care NHS (National Health Service) of UK outsourced a significant part of their backlog to Indian hospitals. And for large number of countries in Africa and the Middle East India has become a preferred destination for complicated medical treatment.
- At the same time India has been helping set up local facilities both in private and public sector with the Lines of Credit and outright Grant provisions especially in Africa.
- 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 ensuring continental connectivity with our African friends. The e-Arogyabharati project is being further expanded and upgraded under the fully funded MEA’s V-BAB initiative which will provide free tele-education to over 4000 Africans over a period of five years.
- With an exceptional civilisational heritage in the medical field bequeathed by Charak and Susruta and Ayurveda and Yoga and equally adept expertise in the modern allopathic medicine India needs to be at the height of preventive health and advanced curative healthcare systems so that it not only looks after its own people but its friends too.