India is now looking at procuring medicine and medical equipment from abroad in its fight against the Coronavirus and is also eyeing donations from abroad through the newly-established PM-CARES Fund.
In a video-conference on Monday evening with all 130 Indian envoys posted abroad that lasted from 5 pm till about 6.15 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the Indian envoys “whether we can source medicine, and other items” from abroad to tackle the Coronavirus situation, sources told this newspaper.
PM Modi also asked the Indian envoys “to suitably publicise the newly-established PM-CARES Fund to mobilise donations from abroad”. Sources added that “all the Missions shared the situation in their countries of accreditations and also highlighted the items which are available in that country which could be imported by India”.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued later, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that during the video-conference, “10 Heads of Mission, in (China) Beijing, (US) Washington DC, (Iran) Tehran, (Italy) Rome, (Germany) Berlin, (Nepal) Kathmandu, (UAE) Abu Dhabi, (Afghanistan) Kabul, (the Maldives) Male, and (South Korea) Seoul shared their perspectives” with PM Modi and the other envoys.
The MEA also said all envoys were directed by PM Modi “to identify in their countries of accreditation best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and sources to procure medical equipment, for India’s fight against COVID-19”.
PM Modi told the Indian envoys that “extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions, which was why even in this globalised era, most of the world had quarantined itself” during the Pandemic.
PM Modi also told them that “India had taken unprecedented and early steps in response to this pandemic from mid-January this year, to reduce the risk of importing the infection, and thereafter to prevent a large outbreak” and that “this included the world’s largest quarantine and lock-down, implemented by India”, adding that “unity and alertness of all Indians would help safeguard the nation’s future”.
While New Delhi has on some occasions in the past few years been somewhat reluctant to accept donations from foreign countries in the wake of a natural disaster, the sheer scale of the global pandemic seems to have brought in a fresh realisation that every penny from abroad is welcome to supplement the Indian authorities’ efforts provide relief especially to India’s vast poor.
The Prime Minister also issued other directions to the envoys that included asking them to “ensure that commerce in essential supplies, logistics chains, remittances and so on are unaffected”.
He also asked them to continue to “address other problems Indians might face abroad, including arranging shelter, where necessary and feasible”in view of the global travel restrictions besides asking the envoys to “ensure their own health and safety, and that of their teams and families”....