India committed to make coronavirus vaccines available at global level: President

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) India is committed to ensuring availability of coronavirus vaccines at the global level, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Friday, noting that the world is witnessing the country's sincerity in discharging its responsibilities even during the pandemic.

In his address to a joint sitting of Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session, Kovind said as India 'forges ahead' in the world, it has to be prepared to fulfill commitments that are commensurate with its 'new identity'.

The President said India has supplied essential medicines to more than 150 countries in addition to fulfilling its domestic requirements following the pandemic.

India has so far gifted over 55 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries and several of those in its extended neighbourhood, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

'The world is witness to the sincerity with which India has been discharging its global responsibilities even during the Coconavirus pandemic. Living up to the spirit of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakkam' (the world is one family), India has, in addition to fulfilling its domestic requirements, supplied essential medicines to more than 150 countries,' the President said.

'India is committed to ensuring the availability of vaccine at the global level,' he added.

India has sent COVID-19 vaccines to several countries including Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

India is one of the world's biggest drug-makers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.

Kovind also mentioned about the 'Vande Bharat' evacuation mission under which about 50 lakh Indians were evacuated from abroad in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

'It is a matter of pride for the country that 'Vande Bharat Mission', which is the biggest mission of its kind organised anywhere in the world, is being hailed universally,' he said.

'In addition to evacuating about 50 lakh Indians from various parts of the world, India has also enabled safe passage for more than 1 lakh foreign nationals to their respective countries,' he noted.

The President said despite the impediments caused by pandemic, India has strengthened its contacts and relations with other countries, adding that it further bolstered global cooperation by holding a large number of apex summits and multilateral events during the period.

'For the eighth time, this year India has joined the Security Council as a non-permanent member by garnering historic international support. India has also assumed the presidency of BRICS for 2021,' he said.

BRICS is a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. PTI MPB ZMN