Beyond The Geopolitics Of Foreign Policy
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, proudly announced in the first week of April 2021 that his Government had sent COVID-19 vaccines to more than 80 countries. The PM was also heard to regret that the volume of export was much less than the demand! “India is ready to protect humanity with not one, but two ‘Made in India’ corona vaccines,” he reportedly said.
However, the scenario changed abruptly in next couple of weeks. From the universal donor, India has become the receiver, with the second wave of the Pandemic claiming 222,417 lives so far in the South Asian Nation! Currently, India is relying on the US for everything, including oxygen, prophylactic raw materials, medicines, PPE Kits, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, etc. The Modi Administration has sought help even from China, and has also urged Dubai to supply oxygen. Gurjit Singh, an Opposition Parliamentarian, has requested Prime Minister Modi to bring oxygen from neighbouring Pakistan. After considering the situation in India, Russia has already sent 150,000 Sputnik V vaccines to New Delhi.
Earlier, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan had announced that his country was ready to help arch-rival India in tackling the Pandemic. The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka has confirmed that at least 800 oxygen concentrators would soon reach New Delhi from Hong Kong! According to sources close to the Embassy, China will send 10,000 oxygen concentrators to India later.
Most importantly, the second wave of COVID-19 Pandemic has prompted the Modi Administration to suspend its widely advertised vaccine-diplomacy. Hence, neighbouring Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other South Asian nations have realised that they could not depend on India for second dose of vaccines. India had sent the first dose of vaccines to these countries as per international diplomatic protocol.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs recently sent a note verbal to the Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh, informing the latter that New Delhi would be unable to supply vaccines to Dhaka, in spite of a commercial agreement between the Serum Institute of India, an Indian biotechnology and pharmaceuticals company that is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, and the Bangladeshi drug-manufacturing company Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited (BPL). According to the note, India would start producing vaccines only after the arrival of raw materials from the US.
Prime Minister Modi tried his best to increase India’s influence in the region through vaccine-diplomacy in the first quarter of 2021. However, the second wave of Pandemic rocked India’s health infrastructure in April, exposing the failures of the Government of India in tackling the crisis. Foreign Policy Experts believe that it has damaged India’s image at the global stage, and it could be considered as a diplomatic setback.
The failure of the Government of India has also made headlines in the Global Media. Economist, The Guardian and Time have directly blamed the Indian PM for this situation, with The Guardian stating: “The system has collapsed: India’s descent into COVID hell.” The British daily added: “Many falsely believed that the country had defeated COVID-19. Now, hospitals are running out of oxygen and bodies are stacking up in morgues.”
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