Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 14 June 2021 9.03 AM IST

Policy changes, possible doubts


It is generally observed that any dynamic society will find unforeseen windows of opportunity whenever they face a crisis. True, the emergence of the Covid epidemic and its aftermath have caused distress and crisis to nations, but on the other hand, even countries with differences and animosities are extending their hands beyond borders to seek new ways of cooperation. The advent of the corona virus and the long-running fights against it have weakened or depleted the strength of many countries. Essential facilities for health care and modern medical equipment may be in short supply in some countries for a certain period of time. Thus it is natural for the health sector to falter as a hitherto unheard of epidemic or pandemic strikes. In this situation, nations must shed their disparities and cooperate and help each other in the most humane way possible.

Soon after Russia introduced Sputnik, India also introduced two Covid vaccines. Other countries now look hopefully at India, famed as the world's largest pharmacy. The two major Covid vaccines in India are Covishield, developed by Oxford and the Serum Institute, and Covaxin, an indigenous COVID vaccine developed in India. Six more are in the final stages of testing. India has not only started distributing Covishield and Covaxin manufactured in India but also supplied the same to other countries winning their goodwill with exemplary humanity, the hall mark of Indian culture and tradition.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations and the whole world have praised India's good deeds. In this, India made no difference whether the Covid stricken were Indian or not. This is the true spirit of universal brotherhood. Assembly elections were to be held in states including Kerala at a time when there are signs of COVID being under control in India. There were massive publicity campaigns, crowded meetings and rallies in the overconfidence that Covid was under control. Meanwhile, massive fests like Kumbh Mela also took place though with some restrictions. As the noise of elections and celebrations subsided, the pandemic was clearly on the rise. While it is alleged that the election marred by non-compliance with the rules and regulations and the reckless festivities were the reasons for this, it is also observed that it is actually the second wave of that we see now. Covid is equally on the rise in states where elections and festivities have taken place and states where they have not taken place.

Consequently, the hospitals are filled to their capacity with COVID patients. There isn’t even enough oxygen for those who are gasping for breath. Even the cemeteries the six-foot patch assured to every man is unavailable. Thankfully, at this time when the country is in dire straits, the world is extending a helping hand to India. Western and Asian nations alike have been willing to help India. Even China and Pakistan have offered to provide medical equipment and other ways of help, but India has not responded to the last two yet.

However, India has gratefully accepted the help offered by the European nations and the Middle East. To accept such foreign aid, India, had to deviate from its seventeen-year-old foreign policy. Non-alignment had made India decide not to accept foreign aid 17 years ago when it irrationally labelled itself self-sufficient. However, this stand did not prevent India from providing assistance whenever other countries faced natural disasters. Even before COVID and during the early stages of COVID, foreign countries were under the impression that India was an unquestionable power in the Indo-Pacific region. China also felt that India's economic growth, self-sufficiency and armaments couldn’t be challenged.

It was the fear that India's growth would be a threat that made China seek to unite the neighbouring nations against India and create unwarranted provocations on the borders and drag the country into a war-like situation. China was also upset by the United States, Britain, France and Australia showing an extraordinary interest in Indian affairs.

But economists and military experts have an anxiety that Covid's second wave might be too much for India to contain. A pandemic in a highly and thickly populated country like India should make it arm itself to the teeth in defence. Economists point out that this will impede economic growth and slow down development processes and the country might suffer from regression.

Doubts have been raised from some quarters as to whether India's self-esteem too has an infection as the country has started accepting foreign aid in the wake of the catastrophic second COVID wave. India has survived many setbacks, foreign invasions and wars and held on even as the whole world fell into recession. A nation like India, with its infinite and indomitable morale will surely survive these crises.

The medical and foreign aid currently accepted by India is only a give and take, a reflection of a healthy interaction. India was the first country to provide assistance to the countries affected by COVID. What goes around comes around.

The reality is that China and Pakistan who are offering aid to India are not faring any better, or may be even in worse troubles of their own. If there is an atmosphere of reconciliation and recognition behind these promises, these nations will be able to forget hostilities and spend more time on the welfare of the people. India can also focus on health care processes by diverting attention from border conflicts. Sweet are the fruits of adversity.

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