Mostly Sweet with Touch of Spice: Jaishankar’s Well-timed US Visit ‘Solidified’ Strategic Alliance
The United States is unique in that it possesses a rare self-confidence and grace, to make a quick course correction if required and even go public with it. This is the hallmark of a great power. During his visit to the US (24-28 May), External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar noted that the US had “not only an enormous ability to reinvent itself, it also has a great ability to assess its situation and re-strategise in a way.”
Within six days of the State Department Spokesperson’s insensitive remarks on the COVID crisis, President Joe Biden was on the phone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey his solidarity and affirm support to India’s efforts to contain the ongoing wave of the pandemic. Mobilising at remarkable speed and with a sense of purpose, Washington dispatched six plane loads of medical supplies, including therapeutics, ventilators and components needed for vaccine production in India. So far, emergency supplies worth around $500 million have reached India.
Responding to the PM’s request, the Biden administration was also prompt in endorsing India’s initiative at the WTO to relax the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) norms, to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines to developing countries. That position was reaffirmed by US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai, whom the External Affairs Minister met on May 27. He tweeted – “Welcomed her positive stance on IPR issues & support for efficient & robust supply chains.” Nevertheless, it remains an uphill task as Europe is non-committal and the Big Pharma is opposed, yet the American solidarity is heartening.
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