With Nepal, India restarts Covid-19 outreach to neighbours

The Indian Army gifted Nepali Army medical aid worth over Rs crore on Friday.

With Nepal, India restarts Covid-19 outreach to neighbours Photo

India has returned to helping its neighbours with medical equipment to deal with the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak, after receiving foreign aid for weeks to save its own people from the brutal second wave of the pandemic that wreaked havoc across the country.

The Indian Army gifted Nepali Army medical aid worth over Rs 18.02 crore on Friday. New Delhi’s envoy to Kathmandu, Vinay Mohan Kwatra, met Nepali Army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa on Thursday and handed over medical aid including ventilators, ambulances, Intensive Care Unit beds, Personal Protective Equipment sets and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Kwatra had a meeting with Thapa at the headquarters of the Nepali Army at Tundikhel in Kathmandu. He conveyed to Thapa India’s support to the Nepali Army in its fight against the pandemic, a spokesperson of the Embassy of India in Kathmandu stated on Friday.

This was the first gift of medical aid New Delhi provided to any foreign nation after taking a break for weeks when it had to accept foreign assistance from over 40 countries to deal with the crisis caused by the resurgence of the SARS-CoV-2 infection among its own people.

Earlier, during Indian Army chief General M M Naravane’s visit to Kathmandu on November 4 to 6 last year, New Delhi had gifted Nepali Army medical equipment including X-Ray machines, computed radiography systems, ICU ventilators, video endoscopy units, anesthesia machines, laboratory equipment and ambulances. The Indian Army had also gifted Nepali Army 100,000 doses of vaccines on March 29 this year.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world, India provided medicines and medical equipment to over 150 countries in its neighbourhood and beyond, including Grants-in-Aid valued at around Rs 80 crore to 82 countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government also sent out 107.15 lakh doses of the Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines to foreign nations as grant till April 16, in addition to the 357.92 lakh doses exported commercially and 198.628 lakh doses as contribution to the Covax initiative of the World Health Organization, Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance and others to ensure equitable access to vaccines around the world.

India itself received medical aid, including 17018 ventilators, 46 oxygen plants, 885 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen, 23,116 oxygen concentrators and 25,124 oxygen cylinders, from governments and private sector entities in over 40 countries around the world over the past few weeks. Besides, it also received 13,30,105 doses of Faviparavir, 1106940 doses of Remdisivir and 51,024 doses of Tocilizumab drugs as foreign medical aid, in addition to 19,88,985 rapid diagnostic kits, 98,32,274 masks.

China, which has been keen to spread its tentacles in South Asia and Indian Ocean region, stepped in to take advantage of the situation and augmented supply of medical aid and vaccines to Nepal, Sri Lanka and other nations in the neighbourhood of India.

New Delhi’s relations with Kathmandu came under stress after Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s government in May 2020 lodged a protest over a new 80-kilometer-long road New Delhi built from Dharchula in Uttarakhand to the Lipulekh Pass – an India-Nepal-China tri-junction boundary point. It alleged that the road passed through Nepal – a claim dismissed by India. Kathmandu, however, went ahead, published a new map, which showed nearly 400 sq kms of India’s areas in Kalapani, Lipulekh Pass and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal. It also got the Nepalese Parliament to amend the country’s constitution to endorse the new map.

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