Modi goes online, discusses COVID-19 issues with diplomats worldwide

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International Desk:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday held a video conference with the heads of all of India’s Embassies and High Commissions worldwide and emphasised  that the unity and alertness of all Indians would help safeguard the nation’s future.

Prime Minister Modi emphasised  that India’s Missions abroad may well be far from home, but they remain full participants in India’s fight against COVID-19.

The heads of Mission in India’s neighbourhood, underlined measures to assist the national responses of those countries, using the special fund created at India’s initiative for SAARC countries to combat COVID-19.

The heads of Mission also expressed gratitude for the guidance and inspiration from Prime Minister Modi for their work, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.

The conference—the first such event for Indian Missions worldwide—was convened to discuss responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Modi noted that extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions, which was why even in this globalised  era, most of the world had quarantined itself.

“This was an unavoidable step taken to fight this pandemic, but it was also hugely consequential, as the closure of the globalised  system has had an extensive and far-reaching impact upon the international transport system, financial markets and the global economy,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi said India had taken unprecedented and early steps in response to this pandemic from mid-January this year, to reduce the risk of importing the infection, and thereafter to prevent a large outbreak. “This included the world’s largest quarantine and lockdown, implemented by India.”

The Prime Minister Modi complimented heads of Mission for their efforts to evacuate Indians stranded abroad in some of the epicentres of the crisis.

He also exhorted them to take steps on five specific counts:

I. To ensure their own health and safety, and that of their teams and families;

ii. To attend to Indians who remain in various foreign countries, given the uncertainty of continuing international travel restrictions. He called on Heads of Indian Missions to help boost the morale of such compatriots abroad, and to help them address issues arising from their unplanned stay abroad, with their host Governments, and also to address other problems Indians might face abroad, including arranging shelter, where necessary and feasible;

iii. To stay alert and identify in their countries of accreditation best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and sources to procure medical equipment, for India’s fight against COVID-19. He also advised Heads of Mission to suitably publicize the newly-established PM-CARES Fund to mobilize donations from abroad;

iv. Since this crisis also impacts upon the economy, PM advised Heads of Mission to also focus on ensuring that commerce in essential supplies, logistics chains, remittances and so on are unaffected, through their coordination with foreign partners;

v. To continue to pay close attention to the evolving international political and economic situation, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, ten Heads of Mission, in Beijing, Washington DC, Tehran, Rome, Berlin, Kathmandu, Abu Dhabi, Kabul, Male, and Seoul offered their perspectives to Prime Minister Modi and the rest of the audience.

They shared feedback regarding appreciation in their countries of accreditation of the resolute measures taken by India to combat this pandemic.

The heads of Missions outlined their efforts to help Indians stranded abroad, in particular, students and workers.

They also reported efforts to identify medicine, medical devices, technologies, research and other measures which might help in India’s own national effort to fight this pandemic.

The heads of Mission also reported lessons learned in other countries, and their best practices, in the global fight against COVID-19.unb

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