'Instead of exploiting COVID-19, India provided international aid'

Contrasting India's reaction to the global coronavirus crisis to that of certain neighbours, India's UN Permanent Representative T S Tirumurti has said that while some countries are taking advantage of the pandemic to enhance terrorism or adopt aggressive policies, New Delhi’s is rushing medical supplies to countries in need, strengthening their national health capacity and helping alleviate the misery it has spawned

Arul Louis Sep 15, 2020
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Contrasting India's reaction to the global coronavirus crisis to that of certain neighbours, India's UN Permanent Representative T S Tirumurti has said that while some countries are taking advantage of the pandemic to enhance terrorism or adopt aggressive policies, New Delhi’s is rushing medical supplies to countries in need, strengthening their national health capacity and helping alleviate the misery it has spawned.

The India-UN Development Partnership Fund, the third anniversary of which was celebrated on Monday, has responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic by sending financial aid to nine developing countries to get medical supplies and protective equipment as well as for programmes to deal with its socio-economic fallout.

Speaking at the virtual celebration, Tirumurti - in an obvious dig at China - said that India gives priority to sustainability and demand-driven projects while not imposing conditions on the developing countries receiving aid or miring them in debt.

He said that India’s development partnership philosophy was inspired by Swami Vivekananda's testament, “Each nation must give in order to live. When you give, you will have life; when you receive, you must pay for it by giving to all others.”

UN Development Programme Administrator Adam Steiner said that India sent a powerful signal about its commitment to a global family of nations working together by setting up the Fund. The Fund has a special window for Commonwealth countries to receive aid.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said that the Fund is an embodiment of the value India placed on multilateralism.

The nine countries that received the COVID-19 aid are Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

In three years the Fund has already provided aid worth $47.9 million to 59 projects in 48 countries.

The fund is based on a $150 million multi-year pledge by the Indian government.

Last month Tirumurti gave India's latest contribution of $15.6 million to UN Office for South-South Cooperation Director Jorge Chediek.

Unlike the aid programmes of most countries, India's Fund distributes money through the UN so that there are no strings attached and uniquely lets the recipients select the projects based on their priorities like Chad project to train 200 local farmers in innovative farming techniques while seeding 28,000 plants across 70 hectares to reverse deforestation.

Among its wide range of projects, the Fund has set up a climate early warning system for seven island countries in the Pacific.

Women’s empowerment has been a priority for the Fund, which has built an educational resource centre to help 300 students.

The Fund also provides emergency aid to deal with natural calamities.