India can utilise the crisis-opportunity to reprioritise its global commitments
- 2020-04-12 20:01
- By fortuneindia.com
So far, as the crisis is still unfolding, many critical multilateral arrangements in place- whether it is the G20 or G7 have played a limited role in presenting a unified front, or, in reassuring and providing effective measures of relief to most affected nations. The Chinese state, on the other hand, has utilised the opportunity to push its propagandistic narrative internationally, while emerging as a ‘costly’ supplier of medical equipment for nations (including the U.S.). Despite its effort in providing for the increased short-term demand for medical supplies, it has continued to receive severe criticism for pursuing virus-censorship, keeping most countries in the dark (including the WHO) on the virus and its contagious spread, especially in months of January-February (2020). How can India utilise this crisis as an opportunity to reorder its global commitments and emerge as a significant actor to allow more nations to become interdependent and associate with a large developing market? This is an opportunitybecause in relative comparison to other countries, say, the United States, China or Eurozone, India has been both fortunate and cautious, in preventing the contagious spread of the virus in its domestic territory, and taking the necessary precautions ahead, may come out on the better side (with lesser deaths) of the crisis. Not only states, but many international NGOs and public health non-state actors have been using generic Indian drugs for affordable treatment in countries within Africa, parts of Latin America over the last decade. The government can encourage this by investing in more R&D for drug and pharma research within India (public medical colleges and universities can be used for this purpose) and provide for more incentives to the private sector to enhance its production for export channels. The gains accrued have largely been due to the asymmetric, privatised nature of healthcare system in India-which has allowed the private sector to make inroads to other regional/and international partners (in West Asia). The Cuban state has practiced a humanitarian goal of medical-internalisation as part of its diplomatic mission and earned wider reputation and praise by providing doctors and medicines at times of health-emergencies in many countries in need. India has the potential to do tremendously well in the first two of these areas (given its comparative advantages in pharma-based exports and in medical tourism), for the third- in embedding state-diplomacy with medical-diplomacy and outreach, there needs to be a radical (re)orientation in our global (diplomatic) priorities and commitments.