Participating in the BRICS Foreign Ministers virtual meeting earlier this week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar underlined that India has been providing pharma assistance to nearly 85 countries on a grant basis to help them tide over the Covid-19 pandemic. India’s external engagement even during this time of a global health crisis has been quite substantive and its ‘medical diplomacy’ in particular has highlighted the critical role India plays in the global health matrix.
From the very beginning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed convinced that though the domestic situation would clearly be a priority with some tough measures in the offing, India will have to continue to make a case for global engagement and coordination. By calling for a virtual summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries and pushing for a similar meet of the leaders of the G-20 countries, Modi managed to energise the various regional and multilateral engagements, which at one point seemed rudderless.
Most countries were preoccupied with their internal crisis management and did not deem global engagement a priority. It was this leaderless void that India tried to fill. It even offered to evacuate people from all the neighbouring countries while bringing back Indian students from the Chinese city of Wuhan in the early stages of this pandemic. Since then Modi and Jaishankar have been engaged with global leaders across the world on a regular basis.