Jaishankar appreciates US help during second COVID-19 wave in India

WASHINGTON: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Tuesday praised the US for helping India during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During an interaction with students of Howard University in Washington, Jaishankar recalled how the COVID experience has been enormously stressful for all the countries. “If there was a silver lining to it, it also showed what friendships and relationships across the world could do…We have three vaccines in India, that we’re producing, which are a direct outcome of our relationship with the US,” he said.

“When everybody who could make vaccines was busy making vaccines. It then became difficult to get the supply chains going. It would tend to get disproportionately sucked by some places. I remember at that time, reaching out to (US Secretary of State) Antony Blinken,” the minister added.

Jaishankar said he counts it as the great achievement of 2021 that India could scale up production with the help of the US. “I must say…Blinken really went out of his way to move the American system and get things done,” he said.

He again recalled how India went through a very severe wave of the Delta variant.

“We had enormous demand for oxygen, respirators and certain drugs which were particularly effective for Delta treatment. A lot of countries came forward but a country that really stood out there was the US,” Jaishankar said.

Blinken also delivered remarks and participated in a conversation with students, faculty, and leadership of Howard University. Both foreign ministers interacted with Indian students, scholars, and researchers who have worked in the United States, and with US students, scholars, and researchers.

While addressing the audience gathered at Howard University, Jaishankar said policymakers in both countries are sharply aware of the immense difference that their educational collaboration can make.

“On the Indian side, our 2020 National Educational Policy prioritizes international cooperation in education,” said Jaishankar. “On the American end, we recognize the renewed focus on the STEM sector, including in activities like the Quad. My colleague, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is looking forward to engaging more intensively in developing this important facet of our relationship,” he added.

This event was seen as an opportunity to build off Monday’s announcement during the 2+2 Ministerial of the formation of a ‘Working Group on Education and Skill Training.’ (ANI)