The West exports arms…


By TP Saran

Ever since the Ukrainian crisis began, several teams of reporters from around the world’s several news channels have been present on ground to track the events daily and send live reports back to their to their newsrooms. These coverages are available on a 24/7 basis, as they are quite often re-broadcast, along with commentaries by seasoned observers and analysts in international affairs.

As the crisis unfolded, one of the major concerns of several countries was the presence of their nationals in Ukraine, and this included India which had nearly 20,000 medical students in Kyiv and a few other locations. Whereas other countries such as the US and the UK issued advisories for their nationals to leave Ukraine as fast as they could, the Indian government went one step further. It provided active assistance on ground to evacuate all its students, and repatriated them within a couple of weeks after arranging for their safe passage to neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Poland, Moldovia whence they flew out on special flights of Indian carriers free of charge. A last batch that was in a location nearer the Russian border was transported to Moscow after diplomatic arrangements, and from there flew back to India. 

Of note is the fact that several Pakistani students too benefited from safe passage by waving the Indian flag along with their Indian friends. Additionally, on ground there were sewa (divine service) groups, such as Sikhs and ISKCON (which is based in Kyiv) providing essential items to both students as well as Ukrainian refugees who were streaming out of their country.

As the killings and devastations of whole cities that include residences, hospitals and other infrastructure have continued, this has left millions without basic necessities. Looking back over what has been happening, Indian observers have come to the conclusion and have spelt it out in as many words on the TV channels a chilling reality. It is that whereas the West has right from the beginning declared that there will be no boots on the ground from their side, they have hastened to export arms to Ukraine, a thriving business which continues and which is inevitably contributing to more and more deaths and destruction.

India, on the other hand, has resolutely taken a stand of finding a solution to the crisis through dialogue and diplomacy, and has firmly stood on the side of peace. Accused of sitting on the fence instead of siding with the West against Russia, this misperceived stand has been as firmly rebuffed by the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar first in Washington during a press briefing after what is known as the U2+2 meeting between the US and Indian counterparts. Similarly, back in India he reiterated the arguments in several interviews, as well as putting in his place US’s Anthony Blinken for his remarks about human rights in India. On the other hand, Arnab Goswami of Republic TV shut up a US professor invitee on his channel on precisely the same issue of fence-sitting with irrefutable arguments, affirming robustly that India will look after India’s interests, just as other countries involved are looking after theirs.

In retrospect, taking a long shot from the onset of the pandemic, Indian anchors have pointed out with solid facts and figures how, as opposed to other countries which have been busy exporting arms, terror and debt traps, India has chosen to offer humanitarian aid in the form of vaccines (75 million doses), medicines, and wheat as its granaries are full, so much so that besides supplying Ukraine with these, it will soon be exporting wheat to Nigeria and Turkey amongst others.

* * *

PM Jugnauth’s visit to India

On a seven-day visit to India, Prime Minister has been warmly welcomed in Gujarat, first in Jamnagar and then in Ahmedabad. In Jamnagar, Indian PM Narendra Modi was inaugurating a Centre for Traditional Medicine which is an important thrust of WHO, in fact the Director General of WHO Dr Tedros has been present at the inauguration.

Traditional medicine in India concerns two main disciplines, homeopathy and ayurveda. The latter in particular has a focus on the holistic health of the individual, and relies on natural therapies that are directed more at the promotion of health and the prevention of disease than on treatment. This is also the main objective of what is known as Primary Health Care in the western or allopathic system of medicine which is based on modern science.

One of the major problems with all traditional medicine systems is the absence of proper regulatory mechanisms to ensure the quality of products that they propose, which are manufactured from plants. Also concerning is the problem of assessment of efficacy by means of controlled trials as is done for pharmacological products. The centre set up Gujarat will address these issues, and with the Mauritian PM being there, it is quite likely that support will be made available to local endeavours that make use of traditional medicine.

On the other hand, we will have to await the return of the PM to know what else the package of Indian aid will contain, especially at this critical time when the cost of living is going up and there are major concerns about security and maritime developments in the Indian Ocean.

Interestingly, a succession of foreign dignitaries have been visiting India ever since the Ukrainian crisis began, and the next PM due after Pravind Jugnauth is the British one, Boris Johnson.

The commanding presence of India on the world stage is only increasing, and given its role as a torch bearer for peace, this gives hope that diplomacy and dialogue will prevail over the aggressive push for war.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 22 April 2022

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