- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
COVID Second Wave Crisis and Indo-US
Context: US had put a ban on exports of raw materials for vaccine production by arguing that it was “in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated”.
A storm of protests and criticism erupted in India; influential members of the US political and corporate establishment implored their government to change its position.
As a result, US acknowledged India’s assistance to the US in the early phase of the pandemic and announced package of assistance that had several elements:
- Reconsider Export Ban: First, the US Defence Production Act’s provisions are being reconsidered (that forms the basis of ban on export of raw materials used in Vaccine production). The authorities have agreed to approve the supply of filters needed for the manufacture of the Covishield vaccine.
- Surplus Vaccine doses: Second, it is estimated that the US will have 60 million surplus doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by June, which it will not use at home. Subject to clearance by the FDA, this will be released for use by other countries that may include India.
- Augmenting Oxygen Production: Third, a comprehensive plan has been prepared for the supply of oxygen-related equipment, including generation systems, cylinders and setting up of field hospitals with oxygen beds.
- Supply of Medicines: Four, a special focus is on stepping up commercial supplies of therapeutics, especially remdesivir. Immediate shipment of 1,00,000 vials by Gilead Sciences has been arranged, with another 2,00,000 vials to be made available by end-May.
- QUAD’s Vax Partnership: Five, the US Development Corporation will fund the Indian vaccine firm BioE to expand its manufacturing capacity. This is covered under the Quad’s Vax Partnership, enabling India and the other three partners (US, Japan, Australia) to produce and distribute at least 1 billion doses by end-2022.
- Support from Business Community: Google, Microsoft and Apple — as well as others — Amazon, Proctor & Gamble and more — are coming forward to commit their resources in India’s fight against COVID second wave.
- Pragmatism: Support offered by US Business Community a mix of altruism and pragmatism: US tech has large valuable investments in India which need protection. Negative public sentiment could hurt their investment protection prospects
- Role by Diaspora: America’s turn around was due to the efforts of the Indian diaspora, backed by friendly American public figures and proactive diplomacy by India
- Fear of backlash: US realised that the anti-American sentiment in India (which has a long legacy), can grow and trouble the bilateral relationship if it didn’t offer help at this juncture.
- Changed Leadership: President Joe Biden’s “America is back” mantra —contrasted with Trump’s “America First”— re-assumed a liberal and humanitarian approach, thus indicating US eagerness for global leadership. Helping India at this need of hour shows leadership aspects of US.
When it comes to health-related cooperation, the US needs to internalise that helping India is really helping the world
Connecting the dots: