NEW DELHI :
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged Indian Missions abroad to take note and identify innovations and scientific breakthroughs besides medical equipment that could help India in its fight against the coronavirus, a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said.
Ensuring availability of critical supplies and making sure that logistics supply chains and remittances remain unaffected during this period of global churn through coordination with foreign partners, besides attending to stranded Indians given the travel restrictions imposed by governments worldwide, were some of the other directives to ambassadors who joined Modi via video links from across the world.
The video conference —the first such event for Indian Missions worldwide—was convened to discuss responses to the global covid-19 pandemic. It came on a day S&P Global Ratings cut its estimate for India’s GDP growth for the fiscal starting 1 April to 3.5% from its earlier estimate of 5.2%. Last week, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva had warned that the global economy could be staring at a recession that was as bad as, or worse than the global financial crisis of 2008.
According to Modi, quarantine measures across the world were an “unavoidable step" to fight this pandemic, but it was also “hugely consequential", the statement said.
This was because “the closure of the globalized system has had an extensive and far-reaching impact upon the international transport system, financial markets and the global economy", the statement quoted him.
Modi also outlined the steps taken by India to combat the pandemic, including the world’s largest lockdown, as the number of infections touched the 1,218 mark, with 32 deaths so far.
Modi complimented the envoys on their efforts to evacuate stranded Indians as he urged them to ensure their own health and safety, as well as of others in the embassies. He also called on them to assist Indians, arranging shelter wherever possible, as well as address other issues arising from their unplanned stay in these countries, the statement said.
Though far from home, Modi said that Indian embassies abroad remained “full participants" in India’s fight against covid-19.
He also directed the envoys “to stay alert and identify in their countries of accreditation, best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and sources to procure medical equipment, for India’s fight against covid-19. He also advised them to suitably publicize the new PM-CARES Fund to mobilize donations from abroad, referring to the PM-Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund set up to support the government in its fight against the impact of covid-19. Only Indians and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) can contribute to the fund.
“Since this crisis also impacts the economy, the PM advised Heads of Missions to also focus on ensuring that commerce in essential supplies, logistics chains, remittances and so on are unaffected, through their coordination with foreign partners," the statement said.
The heads of missions in 10 countries, including China, the US, Iran, Italy, Germany, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives and South Korea, offered their perspectives to Modi and others present, including foreign minister S. Jaishankar and foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. Given the number of envoys involved, it was of course not possible for everyone to speak, a person familiar with the development said.