“We are profoundly and deeply grateful to the Indian community in the UK and those who are watching elsewhere, to community organisations across the world. We value the support, we value the networking. Many of them have helped us in very interesting ways,” said , India’s External Affairs Minister, during his UK visit.
In an exclusive virtual dialogue between India Inc. Group CEO Manoj Ladwa for the Global Dialogue Series entitled ‘Does India Have a Plan? From Survival to Revival’, Dr Jaishankar declared India has not one but many plans and that the Narendra Modi led government was focussed on getting them all done – from the immediacy of the Covid-19 pandemic second wave to expanding the country’s vaccination drive and beyond that to keep the country’s economic reforms agenda on track.
In its hour of need, many countries and humanitarian organisations spearheaded by the Indian diaspora have come forth to support India. The minister made a special mention of these efforts, the airline space and capabilities made available in addition to the help received in shipping, logistics and gathering supplies.
His struck a note of caution: “It would be very helpful if people understood what was really in need because often the logistics of taking something can be quite a challenge. I wouldn’t want a situation where somebody works very hard and does something but that may not be the priority.
“So, I would urge people through your medium to be in touch with the Embassy and the to find out exactly what needs to be done.”
His central message remained one of immense gratitude, to the people and to the UK government along with all other countries who have rallied around with assistance and cooperation while India is hit hard by the deadly virus.
“We are deeply grateful to all the governments as well. The UK government, for example, is sending oxygen plants, concentrators, cylinders, cryogenic tanks, ventilators and there are interesting ideas still under discussion. We feel in India at a moment of great travail a sense that the world is with us,” he said.
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The Foreign Minister focussed on “larger lesson” this crisis is teaching the world at large.
“If you have President Biden who says, ‘look I am changing American policy because India stood by me in the early phase of this crisis. So even though it’s my policy not to send out some stuff, I will change this policy for India’.”
Dr Jaishankar also reflected on the support proffered his Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan, for the first set of oxygen tanks that came from the island state.
“He told me, ‘I think you have probably forgotten, last year we had asked you for something on the pharma side and you did it without moment’s hesitation’.”
The Gulf states of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain have also stepped forward in helping India meet the high oxygen demand on the ground. The minister reflected that there was a sense of solidarity going back to when India kept the supply lines of medicines and vaccines open to the Kingdoms throughout the pandemic.
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The minister, in London at the invitation of UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as a guest member at the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers Meeting, was upbeat and optimistic about the sense of solidarity that has been on display in recent days and weeks.
“That sense of solidarity, here in London, I feel very much from the G7 because almost all the G7 countries have been through exactly what we have been through.
“This pandemic is truly not just a game changer, it’s a thought changer. I see a solidarity in diplomacy today, everywhere, and this has brought us together and I would like to see that at home as well.”
*For the full interview, click