WION Summit: Covid vaccines, Vande Bharat mission notable bilateral collaboration: Indian envoy
India-UAE partnership has emerged stronger since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, India’s Ambassador to the UAE says.
The India-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership has truly emerged stronger since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pavan Kapoor, India’s Ambassador to the UAE said during the WION Global Summit 2021 in Dubai on Wednesday.
The two countries have developed strong collaboration on multiple fronts, notably Covid-19 vaccines and the Vande Bharat mission that is allowing travel of non-resident Indians (NRIs) between the two countries.
As part of India’s Vaccine Maitri, or vaccine friendship programme, India has supplied 200,000 doses of Indian manufactured Covisheild vaccine to the UAE in early February and talks for ongoing cooperation on vaccines are continuing.
“We have always emphasised the strength of collective efforts in fighting this pandemic and India and the UAE have shown how useful this can be in practice,” said Kapoor.
Talking about the Vande Bharat Mission, the ambassador noted that during the first three months of the launch of the mission — May, June and July — India had repatriated over 300,000 Indian expatriates from the UAE to India. “The numbers have since crossed over a million and a half, but a very large number of people who travelled to India have since also come back, especially after we entered into a bilateral bubble arrangement which is still ongoing and supporting the strong people-to-people exchanges between the two countries,” he said.
The UAE and India are operating over 300 flights a week between the two countries, which is the largest of the 27 air bubble arrangements that India has in place at present.
“The successful effort and repatriation and continuing exchange among people would not have been possible without the strong support of the UAE government and their departments, in particular departments of health, civil aviation, interior, and the Foreign Ministry. In fact, the India-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership has truly emerged stronger since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The constant high-level empathetic exchanges between our leadership have ensured this outcome,” he added.
A number of high-level visits have taken place between India and the UAE over the last few months focusing on pursuing cooperation in new areas in the post-pandemic world.
India’s chief of Army staff Manoj Mukund Naravane visited the UAE in December, and an Indian military delegation with heads of defence public sector undertakings attended last month’s International defence exhibition Idex and Navdex in Abu Dhabi.
A delegation from the Indian Air Force is also participating in the ongoing multinational exercise ‘desert flag’ in the UAE.
“The pandemic has not been a barrier to our determined efforts to strengthen our bilateral cooperation. In fact, I would like to suggest and highlight that even stronger bilateral cooperation has emerged in the areas of healthcare and food security during this period,” said Kapoor.
Food security is another sector of growing interest. “Since the onset of the pandemic, India has ensured that food supplies to the UAE remained uninterrupted despite the lockdowns in India. As a natural progression both sides are now exploring further opportunities in this area. India was pleased to supply adequate quantities of HCQ tablets to the UAE on a priority basis and also facilitated the arrival of many more nurses and doctors from India to support the healthcare service providers in this country. India was itself grateful to receive medical supplies from UAE in the initial phase of the pandemic,” said Kapoor.
He also added that Indian residents in the UAE, especially doctors and frontline health workers have been providing valuable services to UAE authorities including through effective participation in the UAE vaccination trials. “It is a great tribute to the UAE leadership that starting last December they have rolled out a free vaccination program for all its residents which includes more than three million Indians,” he noted.
India-UAE cooperation during the pandemic is an example of how to find opportunities in a crisis with a focus on the welfare of the people, the ambassador said. “It is the vision and quality of leadership of both countries that is responsible for such positive results. I hope that such people-centric policies that have stood the test of time would be emulated by others in the post-pandemic world.”
While geopolitics will continue to influence the decision-making of countries, events like the Covid-19 pandemic should reinforce the importance of countries working together to better respond to such global challenges.
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