India to take lead in offering vaccine to the world: S Jaishankar

Naveen S Garewal

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, November 16

Prime Minister has assured the United Nations that India will help make cheap vaccines for COVID-19 and ensure its accessibility to all, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said here on Monday.

While inaugurating Indian School of Business’s virtual conclave – Deccan Dialogues: Crisis and Cooperation – Jaishankar said India was at the heart of international and multilateral collaborations.

“The nation was not prepared for such an enormous crisis but we responded in a way that should give us all confidence in our future. We now not only provide for ourselves but deliver to the world,” he said in his inaugural address.

“As the demand for medicines, especially hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol, spiked we stepped up production and supplied to 150 countries — more than half of it was on our own cost,” he said.

“Today the focus has shifted to rapid testing and reliable vaccines — both essential for the return to normalcy — and we are at the heart of international and multilateral collaborations.

“Prime Minister Modi has committed to the United Nations that we will help make vaccines accessible and affordable to all. And believe me, from the regular conversations that I’ve had with so many counterparts, the world is counting on us,” he said.

Delivering the inaugural keynote address, Jaishankar said: “Choices today have deeper strategic implications and, in this context, Atmanirbhar Bharat is critical perspective for India.”

“We must build capabilities to effectively realise the fruits of globalisation and the current openness is not giving the full picture.

“The Indian diaspora play an important role in connecting the world and today’s India will not lead any Indian abroad into distress. The pandemic has shown extraordinary social discipline and explore its inherent capabilities,” said the minister. 

Taking the discourse a step further, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Atmanirbhar Bharat was not an inward-looking trade policy but a thought after strategy that would enable and lead us towards a stronger self-reliant India. 

Technology, he said, would play an important role in Atmanirbhar Bharat, and COVID-19 came when technology was receiving quantum boost.

We are now amplifying the use of technology due to COVID-19, said Puri.

Talking about the Aviation sector, he emphasised that there were massive opportunities for investment in the aviation sector and we would soon be able to reposition our self as global economic player with natural advantages in multiple sectors.

Ambassador Rahul Chhabra, Secretary, Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs, said: “No body is safe until all of us are safe. Health security was not a main table agenda in international discussions but post the pandemic it has become the top agenda.”

“India supplied critical medicines to the world at the need of the hour, half of it in a non-commercial basis,” said Chhabra.

Member, Executive Board, ISB, and Chairman, Hero Enterprise, Sunil Kant Munjal, said: “ISB, over the years, could institutionalise and create research driven institutions within the school focusing on infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare and public policy. ISB will be delighted to create a separate centre of excellence on ‘business and diplomacy’ in partnership with the MEA.” 

Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, Indian School of Business, said: “India has the capacity to become the caregiver of the world. Human capital with technology and collaboration with diaspora are important elements to successful globalisation.”    

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