Fight against Coronavirus: Indian missions to extend a helping hand

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Published: March 31, 2020 4:53:32 PM

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he asked the diplomats to coordinate with foreign partners to make sure that all logistics chains and remittances don’t get affected and operate smoothly.

Prime Minister emphasized the need for gathering information on innovative research and practices undertaken in other countries to counter the pandemic. (Twitter image)Prime Minister emphasized the need for gathering information on innovative research and practices undertaken in other countries to counter the pandemic. (Twitter image)

In the first-ever video conference connecting all Indian missions across the globe Prime Minister urges the Heads of missions make efforts to ensure unhindered international trade for essential supplies, and to also, shortlist countries to procure medical equipment. This is an unprecedented situation in the world and needs to work closely with other countries and cooperate to jointly defeat COVID-19, say experts.

“Almost all the major countries are engulfed in this crisis and space for cooperation has shrunk. In these testing times, such a step by PM Modi is commendable,” they opine.

What did PM say?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he asked the diplomats to coordinate with foreign partners to make sure that all logistics chains and remittances don’t get affected and operate smoothly.

Countries which were affected severely by the Coronavirus including China, the US, Iran, the UAE, Italy, Germany, South Korea, and neighbours such as Nepal, Afghanistan and Maldives were the main focus during the video conferencing.

While the government sent many flights to evacuate Indian travellers stuck in various countries across the globe, there are still many who were not able to get on to the special flights.

“In such situations, the Indian Missions have access to Indian Community Welfare Fund which can be used to help those who are stuck overseas. Several Indian missions are using these funds to help those who have reached out to the missions for help,” explained a top diplomat.

On Tuesday morning Indian ambassador to Kazakhstan Prabhat Kumar put out a video message urging all Indians stuck there to follow best practices as well as follow the instructions of the local authorities.

Several Indian students and workers have been stuck in several countries and are getting all the possible help from the Indian missions as well as the local families who have offered their help.

Experts’ Views

Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Consultant, Faculty of Political Science, IGNOU, New Delhi, says “India is fighting a multi-front battle against Coronavirus and Indian missions abroad have a vital role to play in this regard as the world has come to a standstill. A number of Indians are stranded abroad and their well-being is the responsibility of our government. Indian Diaspora can also contribute to India’s response against COVID-19 like financial help.”

In the opinion of Sharma “the missions would analyze and share the best practices adopted by their host countries and how that experience could be useful for India. They will also share the Indian experience with their host countries. Science and technology will play the central role in ending this pandemic and Indian missions abroad will have to keep pace with this trend in different countries to suggest some critical solutions for India.”

Says Prof Rajan Kumar, “Global economic activities have come to a grinding halt. This may delay the spread of coronavirus, but has caused tremendous suffering to people worldwide. Many of the Indian travellers are stuck abroad and unable to come back to India due to the cancellation of all the international flights. Indian diaspora is also facing unprecedented difficulties due to disruption of social and economic life. The only support available for them abroad is the Indian Embassy.”

“Prime Minister emphasized the need for gathering information on innovative research and practices undertaken in other countries to counter the pandemic. The embassy is in the best position to obtain such information and share with the health practitioners here. India also needs to keep obtaining medicines, masks, ventilators and other instruments from China, Europe and other countries to support the health care system here. This can only be insured by the embassies abroad,” Kumar says.

“Global supply chain has been disrupted because of the cancellation of flights and lockdown. This may be feasible in the short run, but no-country can remain isolated for more than a month or two. Indian embassies will play a crucial role in re-establishing the economic and financial linkages in the coming weeks”, he adds.

In short, this was a welcome exercise by the Prime Minister to boost the morale of Indian diplomats posted abroad, and motivate them to undertake the difficult task of addressing the concerns of diaspora and broader national interests.

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