R Masakui | Republic Day of India: contributing to the world
It was 71 years ago, on January 26, 1950, as India’s Constitution came into effect, the country embarked on her journey as a republic. Our constitution gave us rights as citizens of a free democratic nation, but also placed on us the responsibility to always adhere to the central tenets of our democracy - justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Even though the Indian State comprises of three organs - legislature, executive and judiciary; yet, on ground, ‘We the People’ are the prime movers of the republic.
Living in one of the most vibrant democracies on the planet, Jamaicans will relate to this special day of the world’s largest democracy even more. Freedom of speech and expression, the right to be treated equally before law and the orderly transition of governments are attributes that both of us share. It is not a mere coincidence that India and Jamaica share such a warm relationship, despite the huge geographical distance. It is also the reason why Indians get assimilated in the Jamaican society so easily and feel at home here.
RESPONDING TO COVID-19
The last year has been tough not only for India, but for the entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than two million causalities and has thrown the global economy in a tailspin. Even in these tough times, India has taken bold economic reforms in order to become a US$ 5 trillion economy, including liberalisation of foreign investment rules, abolishing unnecessary bottlenecks and slashing corporate taxes. These reforms have ensured increased competitiveness, enhanced transparency, expanded digitisation, greater innovation, and more policy stability.
India’s massive pharmaceutical research and manufacturing capacity was on full display during the COVID-19 pandemic as Indian pharmaceutical companies supplied essential medicines to every nook and corner of the world to manage the crisis. To further support the global response to the pandemic, India also shipped tons of pharmaceutical supplies to as many as 150 countries, including to Jamaica. India is also one of the first countries to develop and approve two COVID-19 vaccines and has begun a mass vaccination drive back home, planning to vaccinate 300 million Indians in the coming few months.
However, India understands its global responsibility and cannot wait for vaccinating its entire 1.3 billion population before sharing it with other countries. India has already offered its COVID-19 vaccines to many countries including to Jamaica, both free of cost for frontline workers, as well as at the most competitive prices, for mass vaccination. In fact, two million ‘Made in India’ vaccines are ready to be airlifted from India to Brazil while many other countries will receive it in the coming weeks.
PAN-JAMAICA MEDICAL CAMPS
Usually, the Indian High Commission in Kingston celebrates the Republic Day with the flag unfurling ceremony in the morning followed by a reception in the evening. However, with the COVID-19 protocols in place, we at the high commission thought of celebrating this Republic Day differently. The high commission has, therefore, announced Pan-Jamaica Free Medical Camps on Sunday, January 31. More than 40 doctors from the Indian community will offer free medical consultations at 15 different locations spread across nine parishes in the island on this day. Many pharmaceutical companies, including Indies Pharma and Bioprist, Dr Reddy’s and Glenmark, have been gracious to offer essential medicines free of cost, which will also be disbursed at these camps. Custos and mayors from some of the parishes, the Adventist Association and institutes like the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) and the All American Institute of Medical Sciences (AAIMS), are also on board. The locations of these camps and the names of the doctors are available on the Indian High Commission website. These medical camps are a way of expressing gratitude by the Indian community in Jamaica towards the country and its people for accepting and treating them so well all these years.
As our Republic Day is a celebration of our constitution, let me conclude with the words of its chief architect, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar:”If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, we must hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives.” These words have always lighted our path. These words will continue to show us the way ahead to new glories.
The value systems of India which recognise the world as a large well-knit family is captured in our message from the ancient Indian scriptures – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) – which strengthens our relations with other nations. We have been sharing our democratic ideals and the fruits of our development with the entire world. As India and Indians march forward, we remain committed to engaging the global community to build a secure and prosperous future for ourselves and for the entire humanity.
- R. Masakui is the high commissioner of India to Jamaica. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.