The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today expressed happiness over India’s extension of help to other needy countries despite facing enormous challenges in taking care of its own population due to Covid-19 pandemic. He said that in these trying times, India has not forgotten to help countries who needed assistance with items such as pharmaceutical products made by our industry.
The Vice President addressed the 18th meeting of the Governing Council of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in virtual mode. In his opening remarks as the President of ICWA, Shri Naidu said that India has been leading from the front in the global effort to counter the pandemic. “We are also in the vanguard of research endeavours to develop a vaccine and expect good news soon”, he added.
The Vice President was of the view that the role and relevance of international relations and foreign policy to the lives of ordinary Indians has been re-emphasized resoundingly during the pandemic period.
Shri Naidu specifically referred to the Vande Bharat missions that enabled Indian nationals living and working abroad to return to their homeland and lauded concerned departments and agencies for skillfully managing this huge task.
He wanted ICWA to undertake more such people-centric activities and reach out to hitherto untouched audiences around the country.
Observing that the Covid-19 pandemic has left virtually no country unaffected, the Vice President said that it has impacted societies and economies in different ways. Stating that the pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in countries, Shri Naidu said, “while most have reacted in a spirit of collaborative cooperation, some have retreated into a shell in pursuit of their narrow interests”.
Noting that the Council has been focusing on the study and analysis of the regional and global impact of the pandemic, its repercussions on matters such as international relations, Shri Naidu said that “these monumental changes and shifts over the past eight months have added new dimensions to the Council’s research work”.
The Vice President expressed happiness that ICWA has made full use of digital platforms during pandemic and held more than 50 online programmes and events, including national and international seminars and conferences, track II dialogue meetings with foreign counterparts, participation in regional and global meetings, and virtual signing of MoUs with Indian and global partners. This has helped the Council in maintaining and strengthening its position as one of the premier foreign affairs think tanks in India, he added.
He expressed satisfaction over two-day consultation held virtually with a number of policy makers and scholars from African countries recently in line with his suggestion made last year during the National Consultations on Africa.
He commended ICWA for raising awareness among both experts and the general public through its activities and praised the Ministry of External Affairs for providing guidance to the Council.
At the meeting, External Affairs Minister and Vice President, ICWA Dr S Jaishankar called for renewed focus and attention on the development of Area Studies in Indian Universities. He emphasized that strengthened Indian scholarly understanding of socio-political, economic, historical and cultural contours of different countries and geographic regions is essential not only for knowledge creation on international affairs and foreign policy but also for robust policy formulation. Dr Rajiv Kumar, VC, Niti Aayog and Vice-President, ICWA agreed with EAM and suggested that ICWA may convene a meeting of all concerned viz., Niti Aayog, MEA, M/o HRD, UGC and present a report to a Special Meeting of the GB/GC. Hon’ble Vice President approved the proposal and asked ICWA to move ahead.
This was the third Council meeting of Shri Naidu as the President of ICWA. Earlier in the day he also chaired the 19th meeting of the Governing Body of ICWA.
The virtual meeting was attended by the three Vice-Presidents of the Council – Dr S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister, Shri P.P. Chaudhary, the Chairman, Standing Committee on External Affairs, and Dr Rajiv Kumar, the Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog. Secretary to the Vice President, Shri I.V. Subbarao, DG, ICWA, Dr. T.C.A. Raghvan also joined the meeting alongwith the members of Governing Council which included several Members of the Parliament as well.