- The notion of correlation between various countries characterized by interconnectedness played an important role in the proliferation of the COVID.
- India’s vaccine diplomacy provides the scope to reflect its cultural values imbued with democratic ethos, cooperation, humanity, development and compassion.
- It is coupled with the vision of India as a responsible global player deserving the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) permanent membership.
- India assumes a significant position in the global supply chain of the vaccine due to its time-tested production capabilities and being the world’s largest producer of vaccines.
Vaccines and India
- India’s Covid-19 vaccines are the cheapest in the world with two frontrunners; “Covishield” developed by the Serum Institute of India and the “Covaxin” developed by the collaboration of ICMR and NIV with Bharat Biotech (Mondal, 2021).
- A third vaccine, Russia’s Sputnik V has been approved for emergency use in India by Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI).
- The local production of Sputnik V will begin in July 2021 and Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will manufacture the vaccine in India.
India’s vaccine diplomacy
- India has supplied vaccines to nations including Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Brazil, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait, and South Africa.
- Supplies made under grant amount to 56 lakh doses and commercial supplies amounting to over 100 lakh doses.
- Indian vaccines have reached Afghanistan and also it is reaching the shores of CARICOM countries in the Caribbean, Pacific Island States, Nicaragua etc.
- India’s ubiquitous vaccine delivery programme to the rest of the world is situated within the framework of Vaccine Maitri which is quite synonymous with the SAGAR doctrine of India.
- This gives legitimacy to India’s vaccine efforts further.
Why need vaccine diplomacy?
- The aspect of health is central to welfare.
- Such centrality when disrupted or threatened creates a humongous clamor for instant relief; in this case such action was observed in the pursuit for a vaccine to end this interlude.
- The field of vaccine development cuts across the national boundaries.
- This was witnessed in the various collaborative international efforts between various manufacturing companies and laboratories engaged in research.
- The launch of India’s vaccine outreach initiative known as “Vaccine Maitri” demonstrates India’s concern to bring down the curve of the pandemic as a powerful booster to economic recovery prospect.
- In this context, the recognition is earned as Indian vaccines reflected her pool of scientific skill and professionalism.
- Besides, India assumes a significant position in the global supply chain of the vaccine due to its time-tested production capabilities and being the world’s largest producer of vaccines.
Significance of India’s vaccine diplomacy
- This can be understood if we take into account the nature of action of the developed countries which shows their propensity to reserve doses much beyond the need of their population.
- The situation of the developing countries, on the contrary, is messy because majority of people in the developing and poor countries could remain unprotected if they cannot afford to pay for the vaccine.
- Put in this perspective, the nobility of India’s moves stands upon her commitment to share her mastery.
- India has shared its vaccines with all fellow countries not only those situated in South Asia but also to different countries of the Middle East to Africa and beyond.
It is undoubtedly a great achievement so far as the domain of our foreign policy and soft power are concerned.
Utility of vaccine diplomacy
- Sometimes we can get the outcomes we want without tangible threats or payoffs. This is what is called “second face of power”.
- A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries—admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness— want to follow it.
- Vaccine diplomacy as the nomenclature to define this phenomenon, bends towards the soft power perspective.
- Soft power rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others.
Reflecting India’s wisdom
- Vaccine diplomacy provides India with the scope to reflect its cultural values imbued with democratic ethos, cooperation, humanity, development and compassion.
- The idea of compassion and generosity are a distinct hallmark of Indian wisdom which is engraved both within the domestic public space as well as its institutions.
- In today’s world heavily loaded by hard power there is no gainsaying the fact that our dependence on soft power potentialities cannot be absolute.
- Nevertheless, to succeed in world politics; the path that India adopts with regard to her vaccine diplomacy provides her with unique advantage.
- For instance, India’s well-positioned stature in terms of vaccine manufacturing has been recognised by Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau.
- Diplomacy is all about the conduct of international relations with other countries based on certain parameters of connectedness and cooperation.
- It is worth noting that India’s first supply of vaccine dosage went to Bhutan and Maldives, these two countries being India’s closest ally in the South Asian region.
- India should follow a preferential and prudential line of judgement when it comes to vaccine distribution.
- Being generous is a great virtue but generosity should be backed by judicious calculation.