COVID-19 vaccine 2021: How ‘nationalist’ India is leading international healing mission

Politics is often the art of hollowing out words of their meaning. Those who dog-whistle the word ‘secular’ to do minority politics empty the word of its intended neutrality. Those who claim they are liberal sleep with the most illiberal. Those who claim to be Right and Conservative are often the biggest proponents of freebies instead of a free market.

Lately, the words ‘nationalist’ and ‘internationalist’ have been turned on their heads by an unprecedented tragedy.

The COVID-19 days saw the fall of the world's most infamous ‘nationalist’, Donald Trump. He went around without a mask for months, even exhorted hordes to abandon it.

But it has also thrown up a very seminal question. Which is a ‘nationalist’ nation and which is ‘internationalist’?

The great new internationalist President of the United States Joe Biden is busy meeting the target of vaccinating 100 million Americans. He said he would send vaccines to Mexico thereafter if there was a surplus. He clearly wants to keep his Hispanic votebank pleased.

India, on the other hand, has already sent nearly 6 crore (60 million vaccines) to nearly 70 countries. No strings attached.

The supply started mid-January. These nations include Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Myanmar, Nepal, and has now spread to a number of European and African nations as well. One could call it vaccine diplomacy and be over with it. But the fact that India’s vaccines are reaching even its arch enemy Pakistan in lakhs tells you the story of a civilisation which is miles away from western definitions of nationalism and internationalism.

It is now a cliché, but Indian philosophy talks about 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' (the world is our family) and “sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayah” (may everyone be happy, may all be healthy).

All this while, the European Union threatened a vaccine import ban from the United Kingdom, and the US refused to give a single dose to its friendly neighbour Canada.

India, which is facing a renewed Khalistan insurgency and separatism being carried out mainly from Canadian soil, with its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doing very little about it, has sent 500,000 doses of the vaccine to that nation.

India has become the source of cheap satellites and other space launches for the world as well. It offers the world a democratic and stable option to invest and avail talent at the most reasonable costs.

But powerful western networks and China keep projecting India as a nation with narrow, nationalistic goals. The agenda is clear. Just that the mathematics does not add up.



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