The Prime Minister’s remarks came after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar defended India’s decision to supply Covid vaccines to other countries and said there is a need to ensure equitable access to it across the world.
Indicating that New Delhi will supply Covid vaccines to other countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India will continue to share its resources in the fight against the pandemic.
The Prime Minister’s remarks came after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar defended India’s decision to supply Covid vaccines to other countries and said there is a need to ensure equitable access to it across the world. “I think equitable access (to vaccines) is critically important in this. Because we all know that no one will be safe till everyone is safe,” Jaishankar had said.
Both Modi and Jaishankar spoke at the Raisina Dialogue, which is being held virtually this year.
The Prime Minister said, “During this pandemic, in our own humble way, within our own limited resources, we in India have tried to walk the talk. We have tried to protect our own 1.3 billion citizens from the pandemic. At the same time we have also tried to support the pandemic response efforts of others. In our neighborhood, we have encouraged our coordinated regional response to the crisis. Last year we shared medicines and protective equipment with over 150 countries. We understand fully, that mankind will not defeat the pandemic unless all of us, everywhere, regardless of the color of our passports, come out of it.”
“That is why, this year despite many constraints, we have supplied vaccine to over 80 countries. We know that the supplies have been modest. We know that the demands are huge. We know that it will be a long time before the entire humanity can be vaccinated. At the same time we also know that hope matters. It matters as much to the citizens of the richest countries as it does to the less fortunate. And so we will continue to share our experiences, our expertise and also our resources with the entire humanity in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.
Jaishankar also said that India’s ‘vaccine maitri’ approach was trying to ensure no one gets left behind.
Underlining that in diplomacy, doing good is being smart, the minister said ‘vaccine maitri’ reflects the larger outlook of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (world is one family), asserting that health security is now integral to national security.
The minister said India has given vaccines to over 80 countries that would otherwise not have had access to them. “For small countries, it is not just the ability to buy, but also the wherewithal to access markets. The big debates around globalisation are ‘equity’ and ‘fairness’”, he said.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame thanked India for the vaccines to African countries.
Making a broad political point, Modi said, “After the end of the Second World War, over the next few decades, many structures and institutions were created but under the shadow of the two wars they were aimed at answering only one question, how to prevent the third world war. Today, I submit to you that this was the wrong question, as a result all the steps taken were like treating a patient’s symptoms without addressing the underlying causes. Or to put it differently, all the steps taken were to prevent the last war, not the next one.”
He said that while humanity has not faced the third world war, the threat of violence has not reduced in people’s lives. With a number of proxy wars and unending terror attacks, the prospect of violence is ever present, he said.
Calling for a more human-centric approach, the Prime Minister said, “It is not too late even now. The mistakes and misdeeds of the past seven decades need not constrain our thinking for the future. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented us an opportunity to reshape the world order, to reorient our thinking. We must create systems that address the problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow. And we must think of the entire humanity and not merely of those who are on our side of the borders. Humanity as a whole must be at the center of our thinking and action.”
“While we may be used to having Plan A and plan B, there is no Planet B, only planet Earth. And so we must remember that we hold this planet merely as trustees for our future generations,” he said.
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