In 2018, when the United Arab Emirates offered Rs 700 crore to the Kerala Government as flood relief, the Centre ruled out that the help from the Gulf country, stating that it will not allow any financial assistance from foreign countries, which was against the existing policy.
Now with Covid 19 pandemic cases surging ahead and the country finding it hard to meet the requirements, the Centre has started accepting help, donations, aid and gifts from foreign countries, a shift from its 16 years of foreign policy.
India has almost accepted to procure emergency supplies from China, mainly oxygen related devices. Moreover, the USA has said that it would rush supplies worth 100 million dollars to India. This includes remdesivir and other life saving drugs. They are also likely to send AstraZeneca vaccine to India.
More than 20 countries have offered help. Russia, UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Romania, Sweden, Portugal, Bhutan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Finland, Italy, UAE and Norway have also extended help. All these countries pledged their help as a gesture of gratitude to India’s supply of emergency medical supplies during the first peak of the pandemic.
16 LONG YEARS
The paradigm shift comes after 16 long years when the last time India set a policy soon after the 2004 Tsunami not to accept any foreign aid or help. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that the country can cope up with the situation on its own and would seek assistance if needed. This led to a watershed policy for the last 16 years that gets redesigned now.
India had accepted aid from foreign governments for the Uttarkashi earthquake (1991), Latur earthquake (1993), Gujarat earthquake (2001), Bengal cyclone (2002) and Bihar floods (2004). However, the country did not accept any foreign aid in the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, and Kashmir floods in 2014.
In the second wave the country recorded 3,79,257 new cases in the last 24 hours. Ten States including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan report 72.20 per cent of the new cases.