India celebrates 72nd republic anniversary
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A cultural dance being performed as part of India’s Republic Day celebrations (Photos courtesy of the Indian High Commission)
A cultural dance being performed as part of India’s Republic Day celebrations (Photos courtesy of the Indian High Commission)

— advances with production, distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

INDIA has hailed the contributions of its farmers, soldiers and scientists who have helped the nation to withstand the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 and emerge as a global leader in the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The world’s largest democracy celebrated their contributions as all as the contributions of all Indians at home and in the diaspora on its 72nd republic anniversary on Tuesday.

To commemorate the occasion, an event, in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, was held at the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre in Bel Air, Georgetown. It featured Indian songs, dances and other aspects of the Indian culture and was streamed online.

A gathering of members of the Indian Diaspora in Georgetown

Addressing the occasion, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. K.J. Srinivasa emphasised the warm and friendly bilateral relations between India and Guyana. He related that despite the current difficulties owing to COVID-19 pandemic, the High Commission has been able to work closely with the Government of Guyana and take forward many developmental assistance projects of the Government of India and is also working on a number of new projects for collaboration between Guyana and India, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, India, which is known as a leading supplier of vaccines worldwide, has been developing vaccines to immunise persons against this novel coronavirus. It has several vaccine candidates which are at various stages of development.

COVID-19 immunisation is ongoing in the South Asian country and the government has currently based its vaccination programme on two approved vaccines: COVISHIELD, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which is produced by the Serum Institute of India, and COVAXIN, an indigenously produced vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and the Indian Council for Medical Research.

“Our scientists have been working day and night decoding the coronavirus and they have succeeded in developing the vaccine in record time and with this accomplishment, our scientists have added a glorious chapter of contribution to the well-being of humanity,” the High Commissioner said as he presented remarks from President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.

He added: “Our scientists, along with doctors, administrators and people from other walks of life, have made major contributions in containing the virus and keeping the fatality rate lower in our country, compared to that in developed countries.”

MASSIVE VACCINATION DRIVE

Currently, India is undertaking a massive vaccination drive, using vaccines it has manufactured, to immunise its population against the novel coronavirus. But, these vaccines are also being provided to a number of other countries as gifts and through commercial avenues. “Today, India is being rightly called ‘pharmacy of the world’ as we are supplying medicines and other healthcare items to several countries to alleviate people’s suffering and contain the pandemic across the globe. Now we also provide vaccines to other countries,” he emphasised.

Last week, the Indian Government sent more than 3.2 million free vaccine doses to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. Donations to Mauritius, Myanmar and Seychelles are set to follow, while Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are next on the list. The shipments of vaccines reflect one of India’s strengths — it is home to a robust vaccine industry, including the Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers.

The High Commissioner also indicated that India has been able to springboard from the pandemic into key reforms and development, geared at improving the lives of its citizens. Through the ‘National Education Policy 2020’, it is expected that key developments will lead to a New India that aspires to emerge as a knowledge hub on the international stage. This reform promises to incubate innate talent of students and ignite their minds to take up the challenges of life.

The High Commissioner also reminded the Indians in the diaspora that 71 years ago, the people of India adopted a unique Constitution which propounds the crucial values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. And on this 72nd Republic Day celebration, there were crucial workers who were celebrated. According to the High Commissioner, the farmers who ensure food security, the soldiers who secure the country’s national boundaries and the scientists who have worked to develop vaccines for COVID-19 were deserving of praise.

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