First policy shift in 16 yrs: India open to foreign aid, ok to buying from China

A major shift in policy in 16 years, India has now started accepting gifts, donations and aid from foreign nations as the country reels under a massive shortage of oxygen, drugs and related equipment amid a surge in Covid cases.

There have been two other changes in approach that signal this shift as reported by Indian Express. India now has “no conceptual problem” in procuring oxygen-related equipment and life-saving medicines from China, a source said, adding that on Pakistan, New Delhi has still not made up its mind on whether to accept aid — though it is unlikely to accept it. Besides, state governments are also free to procure these life-saving devices and medicines from foreign agencies, and the Central government will not come in the way. All these three elements add up to a significant change in New Delhi’s strategy, which usually stresses on self-reliance and its own emerging-power image. It’s a marked change from the policy of the last 16 years, since the UPA government under Manmohan Singh decided to not accept aid from foreign sources. So far, more than 20 countries have come forward to help India — from neighbours to major powers. While Bhutan will supply oxygen, the US is likely to share AstraZeneca vaccines next month.

Among the countries that are sending support are the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden, Australia, Bhutan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, Italy and the UAE.