India is facing a huge surge in the second wave of Covid-19 cases. It is really important to vaccinate all the youth as soon as possible because the Indian economy is in the hands of the youth, they contribute around half to the Indian economy’s development but due to the current situation in India. We need to improve our global image and also build trust in the minds of Indian diaspora and the foreigners who want to visit India but are afraid of Covid-19 infections.
India as the fifth-largest economy in the world has the responsibility towards some underdeveloped countries like the countries in Africa and Latin America. This is going to improve India’s soft power and efforts of the Indian External Affairs Ministry in creating a strong bond through its collaborative foreign policies. Recently, the Drug Controller General of India approved two vaccines, Covishield by the Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech.
COVISHEILD: It is the name given to an Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine which is technically referred to as AZD1222 or ChAdOx 1 nCoV-19.
COVAXIN: It is India’s only indigenous Covid-19 vaccine. This vaccine is safe and no major side effects are expected.
Of the two vaccines, COVAXIN is an inactivated vaccine whereas COVISHIELD is a live vaccine.
Vaccine diplomacy is the branch of global health diplomacy in which a nation uses the development or delivery of vaccines to strengthen its global ties with other nations.
Collaborative efforts also include the joint development of life-saving vaccines and related technology with major actors, typically scientists coming together to work irrespective of the kind of diplomatic relationships between the participating countries. It could provide innovative opportunities to promote India’s foreign policy and diplomatic relations between nations in its neighbourhood.
India had earlier supplied Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, and Paracetamol tablets as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies to a large number of countries to help them deal with the pandemic. India has also carried out capacity-building and training workshops for neighbourhood countries.
India’s Prime minister started a drive of the vaccine ‘Maitri’ program to build strong relations with the countries which are on the edge of getting into the debt trap of several countries. Recently, India saved Paraguay from getting into the Chinese debt trap.
Shipments have begun arriving in the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Myanmar and Seychelles are next in the line to get the consignment.
In the case of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Mauritius, India is awaiting their confirmation of necessary regulatory clearance.
The only exception to India’s regional vaccine diplomacy would be Pakistan, which has cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for use but has neither requested nor discussed any doses from India, yet.
Importance of India’s vaccine diplomacy
By financing shipments from India, assistance programs for cash-strapped neighbouring countries desperately needing such assistance, India shall earn the long-term goodwill of its immediate neighbours and across Indian Ocean countries. It is in line with India’s neighbourhood policy. China recently offered its vaccine to Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh as it held a multilateral dialogue with the four countries and Pakistan on anti-epidemic prevention. Early shipment from India to these countries could help counter China’s vaccine and mask diplomacy with its neighbourhood. While the affluent western world, notably the US and Europe, are focused exclusively on their own problems, India is being appreciated for helping its neighbours and developing countries who could not afford assistance.
Beyond India’s immediate neighbours, South Korea, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and South Africa have all shown the inclination to purchase vaccines from India which is estimated to be 60% of the global supply of inoculants.
India can become the pharmacy of the world. If the Indian vaccine helps developing countries to fulfil their need they can become the future long-term destinations for market expansion of Indian pharma, if India becomes the manufacturing hub of corona vaccine across the world, it shall give a boost to the GDP of India.
The US-China cold war has been accused of distribution of vaccine, which caused the inordinate delay in commencing the inoculation programs by the World Health Organization. Thus, the early shipment of vaccines by India is seen as a rescue from this bipolar tussle.
India has emerged as a global supply chain holder of the world’s vaccines. People are arguing and complaining that the Government of India is not taking care of their people. They are surfacing their opinions because of the current situation in the country. They are fighting to get vaccinated and to get Oxygen.
Now, the benefit of the Maitri program is reverting to India because the countries to whom India supplied vaccines are now gifting Oxygen concentrators to India. Which mainly include France, Russia, Singapore, Indonesia, United States, Germany, among many more. This Give and Take relationship makes the bond strong and this trust helps in building harmony in collaborative efforts put by any individual or organization towards the development of society.
Many countries are helping India emerge victorious from this big surge in cases. Some are providing oxygen, ventilators, oximeters, and other medical equipment. This level of help is only possible because of India’s soft power and the Vaccine Maitri program is the best example of India’s soft power.
As India has a significant presence in the global market. Many countries are following India’s decision. So, this gesture of India towards global wellness sets a great impact on their foreign policies.