Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
THE High Commission of India in Trinidad and Tobago slams the Newsday newspaper for its Friday editorial asking whether it was appropriate to accept India’s “philanthropy” of Covid-19 vaccines given the record of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The high commission in a release on Saturday stated that what the editorial called “India’s philanthropy” was India’s vaccine maitri or vaccine friendship.
It stated that Modi in September last year, during the middle of the pandemic, said that India as the largest vaccine-procducing country in the world pledged to help all of humanity.
The high commission quoted a February 4, 2021 tweet from Modi: “We believe that the world is our family and want to play our role in strengthening the fight against Covid-19.”
T&T has received 2,000 vaccines from Barbados who was gifted 100,000 from India. The jabs have been use to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers.
According to the high commission, the foundation of vaccine maitri was India’s civilization adage of vasudhaiva kutumbakam – the world is one family.
It stated that living up to this spirit, India has been supplying vaccines through donations and commercial arrangements and as of March 1, 2021, it has provided 36.37 million vaccines to 35 countries and UN health workers and peacekeepers.
The high commission noted that in the coming days it will supply Covid-19 vaccines to 39 more countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands.
It noted that it was up to these sovereign governments to accept help from another sovereign government as India has never imposed itself to calibrate external arrangements.
Newsday editorial stated: “No one is talking about Mr Modi’s record on Muslim-majority Kashmir, which saw him lock down millions, cutting off their internet connections, imposing military curfews. Nor is mention being made of the Indian prime minister’s right-wing, Hindu (in a secular country), nationalist, Donald Trump-style politics.
“It has seemingly escaped the attention of many that Mr Modi’s government has harassed, arrested, and prosecuted rights defenders, activists, journalists, students, academics and critical voices.
“In response to months of protests by Indian farmers against new farm laws, Mr Modi has this year also continued a pattern of suppression. Even Rihanna, the Barbadian pop star and entrepreneur, has highlighted the farmers’ cause on Twitter.
“This is the backdrop to India’s blowing of kisses to our region. The vaccines might be free, but what is the price of our capitulation to India’s generosity?
“The lack of an adequate supply of covid19 jabs poses a clear and present danger to the region. But some would argue it is equally risky to make a deal with the devil.”
The high commission noted that India is the largest democracy in the world with a population of 1.4 billion and an electorate of more than 900 million.
It stated, “It is a vibrant parliamentary democracy where laws are passed and policies formulated after a vigorous debate in parliament houses. It is proud of its unity embedded in diversity.”
It noted that the Indian Constitution recognises 22 official languages.
The high commission stated, “It is unfortunate that the Land of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Gautam Buddha, Mahaveer and Mahtama Gandhi and the land whose people admire and respect world leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Simon Bolivar, Dr Eric Williams has been called the ‘devil’.”
It added, “It is unfortunate that efforts are being made to demean the stature of a country with which a rainbow nation of T&T shares inseparable historical, cultural and friendly relations.”