The world is watching India as it battles a debilitating second wave of Covid-19. How did the pandemic turn the tables on India? How did India go overnight from exporting vaccines to importing them? How will this lethal second wave affect India’s economic growth? What about the status of India’s relations with China? And what is the future for UK India relations following the recent Virtual Summit between Prime Ministers Modi and Boris Johnson?
These were just some of the burning questions that attendees from all over the world posted into the chatbox as India Inc. hosted another high-profile edition of its Global Dialogue Series with Dr. S. Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister.
In an exclusive and candid, hour-long discussion with our Chairman & CEO, Manoj Ladwa, Dr. Jaishankar tackled the tough questions facing India and the world today.
Here are some of the key take-aways:
- On India’s Covid-19 crisis, Dr. Jaishankar stated, “That with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to say we shouldn’t have allowed gatherings of any kind. But there are times when we need to pull up our socks and put the blame game aside.”
- The Foreign Minister also praised India’s vaccine production, hailing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as a “truly international collaboration”.
- Dr. Jaishankar admitted that the pandemic had laid bare serious shortcomings in India’s healthcare infrastructure while arguing that it had been under-invested for over 75 years. “This was one of the key reasons for Prime Minister Narendra Modi propagating the Ayushman Bharat initiative,” he countered.
- India’s Vaccine Maitri program which garnered global recognition and praise has now come in for sharp criticism. Dr. Jaishankar, however, pointed out that “this step of friendship and goodwill from India has now manifested into global solidarity towards it, in its hour of need.”
- On China, the Minister stated that he was open towards finding a resolution but cautioned that there must be de-escalation at the border. “We can’t have bloodshed on the border and expect good relations in other domains,” he said firmly.
- The Minister also emphasized the need for more manufacturing security in India, both economically and as part of health security, calling Atmanirbhar Bharat a part of “national security.”
- On India UK ties, Dr. Jaishankar commented that the “two countries are at an ‘inflection point’ in their relations.”
- Movement of people has always been one of the core features in the India UK relationship. Towards this, the Minister highlighted the agreement he signed yesterday with the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel that “would encourage more Indian talent to come to the UK and make visa processes easier.”
Manoj Ladwa is the Founder & CEO of India Inc. Group.