With the devastation wreaked by the second wave of Covid-19 being felt in India, there has been much criticism of the government’s so-called vaccine diplomacy. The Narendra Modi-led government aimed to become one of the major global suppliers of Covid-19 vaccines, pledging deliveries to many countries.
While this pledge directly targeted India’s neighbours in South Asia as well as Seychelles, Myanmar and Mauritius, it also encompassed providing 10 million vaccine doses to the African continent.
There is no question, India should have first supplied its own population before exporting doses. But, in principle, the idea of India deepening its footprint in Africa through a vaccine strategy was forward-thinking, and were India not struggling domestically today to vaccinate its own population, could have paid dividends.
Although India has immense social capital among African nations, it has not matched this in material ties, and China’s economic and investment presence in Africa has been outstripping India’s for many years.