Will India's Vaccine Diplomacy Work?
Forbes India|February 26, 2021
Though its setbacks in South Asia need specifically defined strategies, sending vaccines to neighbouring countries offer an opportunity to improve ties
Manu Balachandran

It’s been a diplomatic coup of sorts. And, it certainly hasn’t gone down very well with China.

But that’s precisely what the Narendra Modi government could have expected after it unveiled Vaccine Maitri, an initiative to send millions of doses of Indiamanufactured Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries, and even nations as far as the Middle East and South America.

India had earlier supplied hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, and paracetamol tablets, as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies to a large number of countries during the pandemic. This time, however, even as the country rolled out what’s touted as the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination programme, it also deftly moved to send vaccines to neighbouring countries.

Quite importantly, the move comes at a time when no other country has delivered free vaccines to other countries. Even the United States, where the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being made, is yet to send vaccines to developing nations hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.

“Immunisation programme is being implemented in India, as in other countries, in a phased manner to cover health care providers, frontline workers and the most vulnerable,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on January 19. “Keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased rollout, India will continue to supply Covid-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner. It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad.”

As of February 4, India has managed to vaccinate some 4.1 million people, since the nationwide vaccine rollout began on January 16, one of the fastest in the world. The country also sent over 5 million vaccine doses to countries including Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, the Seychelles, and Mauritius.

Besides, doses have also been sent to Brazil and Morocco, and more supplies are planned for South Africa and Saudi Arabia. India has approved two vaccines that are currently manufactured in India: Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, popularly known as the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Bharat Biotech’s indigenously developed vaccine, Covaxin. Several more vaccines, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Dr Reddy’s and Biological E, are likely to be ready over the next few months.

We have so far supplied vaccines to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Brazil, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait and South Africa, a spokesperson for the MEA said on February 4. Supplies made under grants amount to 56 lakh doses and commercial supplies amount to over 100 lakh doses.”

India is also planning to supply 10 million doses to Africa and 1 million to UN health workers under the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).

“India’s vaccine diplomacy is an important way for New Delhi to show regional and global leadership,” says Daniel Markey, the academic director of the global policy programme and senior research professor in international relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. “It shows that India has resources and capabilities of critical importance to the world, which is an important message for New Delhi to send to often-sceptical audiences.”

The move to send vaccines, many of them to India’s neighbours free of cost, is in line with the government’s plan to reclaim some lost ground in diplomatic relations and in championing the Neighbourhood First policy, a cornerstone of the Indian government’s diplomatic relations under Modi since 2014. India, however, hasn’t offered to send vaccines to Pakistan.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FORBES INDIAView All

EARNING HIS STRIPES

Following the success of The White Tiger, newcomer Adarsh Gourav finds himself in haloed territory of global award nominations

6 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

Forbes INDIA Leadership Awards 2020-21

In a year when business leaders were forced to overhaul their strategies from growth to survival mode, the Forbes India Leadership Awards honour those who successfully navigated the pandemic by innovating and leading from the front

10+ mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

‘COVID-19 SPED UP EXISTING TRENDS IN THE MARKET'

Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of the Bvlgari Group, on the impact of the pandemic on the luxury sector

5 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

How LTI Came Into Its Own

With Sanjay Jalona at the helm, the IT services company is winning against bigger rivals, stepping out of its larger parent’s shadow, and forging an identity for itself

9 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

Valuations of Consumer Companies in Slow Lane

Despite a bright business outlook, FMCG companies have not outperformed the markets

3 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

‘If You Don't Understand Technology or Data, You'll Become Obsolete'

Raja Rajamannar, CMO at Mastercard, talks about his book Quantum Marketing, and how marketers can stay relevant in the future

4 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

From Noun To Verb: Can Dunzo Do A Zoom?

It has raised close to ₹880 crore in six years, earned ₹27.5 crore and lost ₹338.4 crore. Critics may scoff, but Dunzo’s backers are not complaining, and co-founder Kabeer Biswas is chilled out

10 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

Bitcoin Gets A Shot In The Arm

Tesla’s $1.5 billion investment in cryptocurrency will encourage more corporates to gamble with it. Experts say India needs to join before it’s too late

10 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

Tech For Health: The Practo Way

With Covid-19 becoming a tipping point for business, the startup that helps people find and consult with doctors is doubling down on expanding and deepening its tech platforms

10 mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021

Can Koo Be King?

Forbes India delves deep into the new bird app and its content moderation policy to find out if the migration from Twitter will stick

10+ mins read
Forbes India
March 12, 2021
RELATED STORIES

MICROSOFT: CHINA-BASED HACKERS FOUND BUG TO TARGET US FIRMS

China-based government hackers have exploited a bug in Microsoft’s email server software to target U.S. organizations, the company said this week.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #488

TIM COOK'S $2.3 TRILLION FORTRESS

Trade war? Pfft. Trump? Please. Antitrust? Zuck’s problem. (Ditto privacy.) Revenue? Endless

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
February 15 - 22, 2021

China Spacecraft Enters Mars Orbit, 2nd In 2 Days After Uae

A Chinese spacecraft entered Mars orbit on Wednesday on a mission to land a rover and collect data on underground water and possible signs of ancient life, state media said.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
Feburary 12, 2021

Taking the Travel Out Of Duty Free

Bargain-hunting travelers have long fattened the profits of duty-free shops, but Covid-19 travel restrictions have hammered those perfume suffused emporiums.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
February 08, 021

Xi Insists

Improving U.S.-China relations will require President Xi to make real compromises. So far, he’s unyielding

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
February 01, 2021

CHINESE APP TIKTOK CUTS JOBS IN INDIA FOLLOWING BAN

Popular short-video Chinese app TikTok is cutting its workforce in India after hundreds of millions of its users dropped it to comply with a government ban on dozens of Chinese apps amid a military stand off between the two countries.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #483

Al mercado, de volada

Un fotógrafo narra un modo de vida tradicional ligado a un poderoso río en riesgo por el cambio. Historia y fotografías de Fritz Hoffmann

4 mins read
National Geographic en Español
Febrero 2021

HELP IS ON THE WAY But the world still needs a shot in the arm!

The economic outlook is starting to brighten just about everywhere you look

8 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 25, 2021

China Tightens Its Grip on Fintech

In late 2020, as Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. prepared for a $35 billion initial public offering, many outside China wondered if the country’s financial technology giants were becoming a global competitive threat to U.S. and European banks and payments companies. Ant’s Alipay app, used for everything from hailing cabs to investing, had already rewired financial services in the world’s second-largest economy. There was just one problem: Inside China, policymakers were growing uneasy about the sudden dominance of their homegrown superstars.

3 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 25, 2021

China Comes For Its Tech Giants

The Chinese government’s crackdown on the country’s largest technology companies has raised fears that the industry could be paralyzed or cast into disarray as the economy enters a delicate moment. But one contingent within the tech sector is privately cheering on a broad set of anti-monopoly edicts: startups and their investors.

2 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 25, 2021