India’s soft power status got a major boost after the country emerged as the first responder to the coronavirus outbreak in Mauritius and Seychelles. India has also decided to use the Covid-19 fund set up by SAARC nations to send help to Afghanistan.
India gifted the first consignment of four tones of lifesaving medicines including hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) an anti-malarial drug that is considered helpful in treating Covid-19 infections to Seychelles in the backdrop of ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
India sent the first batch of consignment through a special Air India flight after a request from the Government of Seychelles. India had earlier donated state-of-the-art medical equipment worth $8.75 million two years ago.
“These medicines were procured after a request from the Government of Seychelles. The consignment was brought to Seychelles by an Air India Special Charter Boeing 787 flight from New Delhi. Despite its own domestic challenges, India has always believed in sharing its resources and expertise with its friends and partners,” said a statement issued by the High Commission of India in Seychelles.
India also donated 13 tonnes of lifesaving medical equipment to Mauritius and will be following it up with a second consignment in the coming days. As a part of the consignment, India also sent half a million tablets of HCQ to Mauritius to assist it in its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
With this noble gesture, India has become the first responder in Mauritius at the time of the global crisis. Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Leela Devi Luchoomum Dookun welcomed the special Air India cargo flight carrying the consignment from Delhi.
“This shipment was possible as a special gesture although a restriction its export from India continues to be in force in view of the unprecedented prevailing difficult situation because of Covid-19 global pandemic.
This demonstrates the unique ties between the two countries. India is a proud partner of Mauritius and remains committed to contributing to the public health and welfare of all the people of Mauritius,” said a statement of the Indian High Commission in Port Louis.
India also decided to send 5 lakh tablets of HCQ to Afghanistan out of the Covid-19 emergency fund set up by SAARC countries. The Indian Government is said to be exploring various logistical possibilities to send the medicines to Afghanistan but is yet to work out a solution.
India has already delivered HCQ to the US, Israel, Brazil, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. India is yet to receive any request for HCQ from Pakistan.
India has also agreed to sell the HCQ tablets to Malaysia, a Malaysian Minister told Reuters. India is the world’s largest producer of the HCQ tablets which are being deemed essential by health experts around the world in fighting coronavirus pandemic while Malaysia has the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections in South-East Asia.
“On 14 April, India gave permission for Malaysia to import 89,100 tablets. We will try to get more HCQ tablets from India, which is also subject to availability,” Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Kamarudin Jaffar told Reuters.
Malaysia faced challenged in procuring HCQ tablets which it believes will reduce the progression of the disease and lung inflammation. Malaysia has asked India for more than 1 million HCQ tablets. “I’m not sure if that much can be given. India is also giving HCQ to less developed African countries,” a source close to the matter told Reuters.