Wednesday, 5 October, 2022
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Shekhar Gupta is mistaken. Modi gave away India’s HCQ for a thank-you tweet from Trump

Modi is a prime minister who never reverses his domestic decisions. But after two phone calls, India partially lifted its ban on hydroxychloroquine export to supply to the US.

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Shekhar Gupta is a national treasure. His reportorial output, a luminous first draft of history, is indispensable to anyone seeking even a rudimental understanding of India’s difficult republican history. In spite of my many disagreements with him, I number myself among the countless beneficiaries of his work. And it speaks to his democratic spirit that when I privately dissented from his column of 8 April—in which he defended Narendra Modi from those who said the prime minister had buckled to pressure from US President Donald Trump in deciding to send hydroxychloroquine to America—he invited me to express it in the pages of his own publication. It would be an affront to that openness to be anything but direct.

What is the utility of hydroxychloroquine—or HCQ—for those infected by the novel coronavirus? We cannot say with certainty. The accumulating anecdotal evidence of its therapeutic value has, however, heightened the demand for it. This prompted India, among the world’s largest manufacturers of HCQ, to notify a curb on the export of the drug on 25 March—three days after the Indian Council of Medical Research prescribed it as a prophylactic for frontline personnel and their kin—before effecting a blanket ban on 4 April. The Modi government then performed a volte-face within two days. What explains the abrupt reversal?

Consider the chronology.


Also read: Aap chronology samajhiye: Did Modi buckle under Trump’s pressure on HCQ for COVID-19?


The missing piece

We know that the prime minister had been making and fielding calls from a number of world leaders, among them Trump, who rang Modi on 4 April and 5 April. We know also that on 6 April Trump issued an open threat of “retaliation” against India if New Delhi refused to release the medicine. The next day, India announced the decision partially to revoke the ban. Is it unreasonable to infer from the sequence of events that Modi capitulated to Trump?

Yes, says Shekhar Gupta, adducing as evidence for his claim reports in the MintThe Hindu, and ThePrint on 6 April—many hours before Trump’s abrasive ultimatum—which, he contends, clarified that “India had already decided to lift the ban”. The implication of the column was that the prime minister had not crumbed under pressure. If Modi’s detractors choose to overlook this, Gupta wrote, it is because “facts are boring” and complicate their dim-witted outrage. A debunker of disinformation can feel entitled to a triumphant flourish. But Gupta did not so much debunk Modi’s critics as succeed in missing what in law school we used to call gravamen—the essence of the grievance—of patriotic Indians.


Also read: India to export critical drugs like hydroxychloroquine to more than 20 countries for Covid-19


A private decision

The chronology Gupta’s column constructs does not resolve the central mystery of why Modi decided to rescind a ban on the export of a potentially lifesaving drug two days after its activation. Notice that the government effected a full ban on the export of HCQ on 4 April—ten days after putting it on a list of restricted items. The intervening period is when the authorities would have evaluated India’s capacities and requirements. If they were satisfied on both counts, the blanket ban on its export would not have come into effect on 4 April. That it did come into effect hints at some qualm—or a desire to err on the side of caution.

As the Mint’s editorial of 6 April warned, “It’s unclear exactly how much [HCQ] we have available and can make.” And it is for this reason that the editorial proceeded to counsel the government “to take a worst-case scenario into account” because the “most dismal numbers often yield the best decisions in matters of life and death”. If the expansion of the ban 10 days after its notification was necessitated by a lingering fear of scarcity, the revocation of the ban after Trump’s phone calls to Modi suggests that the prime minister elected to subordinate India’s needs—difficult to quantify with certainty at this stage—to his personal relationship with the American president.

We have subsequently been told that India has surplus quantities of the drug. But what if the need intensifies? We have been assured that India has the capacity to multiply production of the drug. But what if the capacity breaks down? Did Modi pay the slightest attention to such questions? If the utter lack of preparation that preceded his announcement of an India-wide lockdown—the largest in human history—is any guide, we know the answer is no. None of us can foresee the exigencies to which a pandemic can give rise. What we can do is prepare ourselves as best as our circumstances permit. Even if we choose to dismiss Trump’s public threat of retaliation as bluster, we still have to account for Modi’s private decision to undo a decision intended to ring-fence India’s need.


Also read: How the humble hydroxychloroquine has become India’s unlikely new global strategic asset


For a phone call

Modi is a prime minister who, lest we forget, never reverses his domestic decisions—no matter how demonstrably disastrous the consequences for India and Indians. The detonation of the economy in the aftermath of the 2016 demonetisation did not prompt him to revise his action. The eruption of mass protests across India could not persuade him to discard the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. But a pair of phone calls from the US president is all it took for him to rescind the prohibition on the export of a vital drug. Whatever happened? Did the prime minister’s 56-inch chest, which he never tires of puffing at fellow Indians, shrink upon hearing Trump’s voice?

Having shipped the medicine to America, Modi’s formidable PR machinery sought to portray the prime minister’s cravenness as an act of statesmanship. On 8 April, Rahul Kanwal, the news director of India Today, claimed on Twitter that Trump had suggested in an interview to Fox News that: “India could have early access to #Covid19 vaccines being developed in US since PM Modi accepted request on HCQ”. The claim was verifiably false: Trump said nothing of the sort on Fox News. But it would have been no less insulting to Indians had Kanwal been relaying the truth. Is it not offensive to us to be made to piece together the thinking of our own prime minister from fragments of information gathered from a foreign head of state’s interview to his nation’s media? Why won’t our prime minister do us the honour of taking questions from our journalists? Why does the nationalist who is so ingratiating with powerful foreigners refuse to grant an audience to his own compatriots? Is it contempt or cowardice?

Everywhere in India there is uncertainty, frustration, and anxiety. But Modi feels no obligation at all to expose himself to questions that aren’t screened or scripted. There is no means available for the press to subject him to direct scrutiny. Demonetisation, Kashmir, and CAA have taught us that the prime minister is habituated to gambling with the lives of others. Every crisis is for him an occasion to indulge his addiction to theatre. We are living and dying through the worst public health crisis in more than a century, and we haven’t even a clue what our prime minister may do next. It is like Albania under Enver Hoxha: every moment is agog with suspense as people drive themselves mad speculating about their self-absorbed supremo’s next move.


Also read: We shall win this together: Modi to Trump after lifting export ban on hydroxychloroquine


For a tweet

Contrast the prime minister’s disdainful treatment of Indians with the deluxe service he extended to Trump. It should surprise nobody. Modi is not an India-first nationalist. He is a Hindu-first sectarian. He will smilingly incinerate India’s interests in return for international legitimacy for his brand of politics and, by extension, his political project. One of Trump’s most durable qualities, as David Frum has written, is his almost congenital inability to stand by those who stand by him. Last September, Modi abased himself to gratify Trump at an event in Texas. Exactly a day later, Trump appeared next to Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, and offered to mediate in Kashmir—a proposal so inimical to India’s position that its mere iteration amounted to a repudiation of every ounce of investment Modi had just made to tickle Trump’s ego.

It is an act of self-harm to delude ourselves into the belief that America, should it develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, will put India before its European allies and other partners. India has been misled over the past decade by its governing elites into thinking that it occupies a dominant position in America’s view of the world. It does not. To state this is not to traffic in what Gupta calls “anti-Americanism”. But none of this matters. The only thing that matters is that Modi got his moment’s glory when Trump tweeted his gratitude to him. We gave away our medicine for a tweet.

The author has written Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India (Context).

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68 COMMENTS

  1. what i know is that said medicine is very common and not hard to produce.India is suffering from high rate of malaria and the medicine is needed and it is available in mass production with cheap rate as generic form.In USA and other European countries it is costlier so USA regularly buy from India as need base and it is regularly purchased but due to COVID virus pandemic it was temporarily banned but when it realized that we have ample stock then why ban.On the contrary we want foreign trade and business.However this is negative destructive mentality is neither good for India as well as negatively impact friendly nation.

  2. All other things discussed in comment a lot.bt 1 thing missing is ur argue on modi likes to sleep after lighting fire. U quoted demonetisation,kashmir&caa.i endorse demonetisation.it was bad decision.aftr that evry thing is related to Muslims.its deir modus operandi to ignite fire everytime to unstable govt or world order. From Middle East to Africa to Europe to India.dey r expert at hijacking others sentiments by creating panic .u r already exposed to assert ur biased opinion.by quoting dese, u hv shown ur ignorance.

  3. Stupid, idiotic, brainless article.
    I don’t know why people disrespect Donkey.

    We have here a donkey for society’s future paradogy.

    • Thank you, Jeet for coming out on your own and proclaiming that ‘here is a donkey’. Please send few pictures and your full name, so that we have few more details of the donkey.

  4. Very nice article. I wish there was accountability And rule of law in my country. Then people (liars) like Modi and Shah and RSS and IT cell would have been behind bars by now and BJP as a party would have been banned fire Wishful thinking!

  5. Even a 5th class kid can write more convincing article. Waste of my time. Wish we were back in old times when only the best for opportunity to publish. So much junk by a wannabe.

    • You can refer a dictionary if you understood it wrongly or you can start reading things which is for kids. Read 5th grade book and enjoy, before that recite ‘twinkle twinkle’.

  6. It’s great that Shekhar insisted that this article be published.

    The contrast between the two articles – one based on facts and trying to be objective and the other just ranting based on joining random facts and interpreting in the typical angry-Modi filter is painfully evident!

  7. No comments. to fake news portal,. Communication technology is very advanced at present. Public do not spare any body ,who ever it may be . Mr sekher Gupta you are a open chapter , majority knows your past and present ,

    Well , लगे रहो मुन्नाभाई।

    सच बहुत कड़वा होता है।

  8. This is classic post- truth. Does this journo go under the other name as BURKHA DUTT or RAJDEEP SARDESAI. Shekar G., has made out a case and this article in a denial mode throws all facts out of the window to an extent of casting aspirations on the character of the PM. The world is singing in praise of the PM but some dumbos like this guy and papu will never learn. Komireddi can go to timbuktoo.

  9. Brothers we gave tonnes of hydroxy chloroquine and 100 companies big and small you will get a mountain of that medicine HCQ
    You can , sell , give , it to anybody

  10. The author has hit the nail very hard on PM Modi who dished out lie before the nation that India started screening of foreign travelers much before first case of Covid. The fact checker has proved him wrong. Forget about screening, he did not even bothered to implement physical distancing in large gathering both , political and religious ones. He himself planned a biggest event to welcome Trump even after getting the reports from China.

  11. To produce Paracetamol and HCQ we have to procure Active Intermediate Products from China only main source in the world. Already Rawmaterials in India for producing tablets facing severe shortage and after 2/3 months we have face crisis if API not received from China according to media reports. There is a proverb in Tamil don’t do charity without keeping some reserves for your consumption. Even in epic BAGAVAD AM Sukracharya warns MAHABALI Raja don’t donate everything to Lord Vishnu keep 1/6th of your wealth for your needs.

  12. We have developed a habit of wasting our time in unnecessary matters. This happens when most of the writers and editors are humanities graduates. They do not know how hard or simple it is to make a drug. Here lies the secret of China’s rise and India’s relatively poor show. Most of China’s decision makers are engineering graduates.

    • Most of China’s decision makers are humanities graduates. Even engineering students have read humanities before being inducted for taking decisions. BUT YES THEY ARE GRADUATES with real degrees and not FAKE DEGREE in ENTIRE POLITICAL SCIENCE.

  13. Such was the intimidation that along with US, Modi had to yield HCQ to 54 other nations. Such a weak and fragile leadership we got, alas !

  14. From getting in the details of HCQ shortfall and requirement for India, we get a rant for a Press Conference etc. If you need an audience with the PM, you got to earn it my friend. Get some skin in the game or better still win a parliament seat. Don’t try to free ride the Freedom of Press. If the PM wants to get his message out, He can Tweet it, Instagram it. We don’t need you for that. You can also Tweet, e-mail those smart questions that you have and let us have a look at what you want to ask in that damn Press conference that the Press so dearly keep on pressing for.

  15. So selling drugs will earn revenue. More over America has pledged to help India financially to fight wuhan virus. But your small socialist, liberal brain will not get it.

    • America pledged to help India financially? Which agreement was signed that states that? Trump changes his words every time he blinks or can’t your big large bhakt brain remember that?

  16. Journalists ,to keep themselves afloat, need to file their stories which in turn have to be readable. Presently nothing makes a better story than anything about Modi-brought under a scanner fitted with dirty lenses.
    But it doesn’t bother either Modi– or the readers & none grudge it on the poor journalists. But in the process, journalism turns out to be the worst victim. Any discerning mind reads a story with utter cynicism & that he or she at all reads is just to find out how original the author of the piece is in spewing venom against Modi. Independent India is surviving despite these committed journalists dictating the nation their list of disgruntled & do not, without anyone ever listening to them. It will continue being so in the foreseeable future as well.

  17. It is indeed nice of Shekhar to have insisted on asking Kapil to publish his views through this article. But given the facts of the case, there is nothing to comment on the issue any further. In any case, sickulars, liberals, communists, ( and Modi haters) do not, can not and will not change their mind under any conditions. More such articles in fact help Modi in getting fence sitters over to his side!

  18. “Why was this article written ? “ Is it for you to show you think better than the Prime Minister and his Secretaries…?
    Or you wished to show the government in a bad light…? You miserably failed…!
    The medicine export ban was ordered BEFORE knowing the stock / availability of essential medicines…! It was allowed after making sure adequate supply is available, YOU intellectually enlightened ZERO….!

  19. Seriously…The Print found this article worth printing. Everytime I think Indian journalism has hit a new low, they surprise me by sinking lower.

  20. Would have been more appropriate if the production potential of the drug in India along with it’s store and future requirements assessed or els it’s a tirade simply

  21. Sekhar Gupta relied in facts where as the author gives his opinion based on his personal opinion about PM Modi. The only fact to be appreciated is that Sekhar Gupta proved that he is a real journalist by publishing this article. Thank god our media still have democrats like Gupta.

  22. See : The problem is not the drug nor the virus in the topic under discussion.
    If you have been affected by the Modi ji bug OR Rahul ji bug OR there are so many other bugs – you sing that song and join the chorus accordingly.
    So, the appropriate Qawalli comes with accompaniment of the tabla & harmonium.

  23. Neither is your medicine nor India gave it to only the US. This author is another delusional who thinks that Modi gave away medicine that we have in abundance and we don’t even know that it helps against coronavirus. What does he want that we horde this medicine and fell good while it’s if very little use?

  24. रामायण के हिसाब से जिन लोगों से बैर नही करना चाहिये उनमें
    “ समर्थ” एक है। पहले घबराहट में निर्णय ले लिया कि भाई निर्यात नही करेंगे – सलाहकार/ सचिव ऐसी सलाह दिये होंगे। बाद में जब त्योंवर देखे तो तुरंत समीक्षा की होगी और रियायत कर दी । अंतरराष्ट्रीय कूटनीति में अहंकार, घमंड का कोई स्थान नही है। पत्रकार व्यर्थ में ऐसी बात करते है कि अगर ऐसा हाई जाये तो , अगर वैसा हो जाये तो । देश के कर्णधार को ऐसे निर्णय लेने पड़ते है ।

  25. The author Mr. Kapil is least worried about the world requirements, India’s capacity to manufacture HCQ and international balance. He just went on how PM reversed this and that. The tone is just outright disgusting.

  26. What is this bunkum?? This is like the deranged ranting of someone pathologically Obsessed with Modi!

    It makes no sense and has no logic – Modi did Demonetization so Modi must explain why he released HCQ? What does one have to do with the other?

    Free time make for every tom dick and harry to rant on the pages of the internet..

  27. The author of this article seems to have an issue with our PM.
    He is quoting here needlessly issues of Demonetisation, Kashmir, CAA.
    What nonsense.
    How can the author criticize PM on issues which are out of place and in all fairness he should know these are issus except demonetization are debated in Parliament and passed by the majority.
    Some print media think that they alone have the wisdom of the world and can write anything they & people have to consume them !
    Not at all !

  28. The author of this article seems to have an issue with our PM.
    He is quoting here needlessly issues of Demonetisation, Kashmir, CAA.
    What nonsense.
    How can he criticize PM on issues which are out of place and all fairness he should know these are issus except demonetization are debated in Parliament and passed by the majority.
    Some print media think that they alone have the wisdom of the world and can write anything they & people have to consume them !
    Not at all !

  29. Kapil Komireddy is a professional Modi baiter. He is compulsively anti-Modi to the point that he is blinkered, warped and unbalanced. Yes, Modi should not have released the medicines to America. But are we privy to the consequences of defying American diktat in today’s precarious situation? I would agree that America is no friend. But to use that decision as yet another platform to heap abuse on the Prime Minister illustrates a polemic mind full of hate. Komireddy can learn from Shekhar who is more nuanced, less insistent and more restrained. We need analysis, not propaganda.

  30. The writer would have been very happy if we order those masks from China made out of under garments, but we supplying Chloroquine to US is a problem. What is the problem to this writer, if India makes tons and make money out of it? Commie writers have single point agenda.

  31. “If the utter lack of preparation that preceded his announcement of an India-wide lockdown—the largest in human history—is any guide, we know the answer is no.” – Author

    I have only one thing to say to the writer, you’re probably living in a fantasy world or simply don’t care about the lives of people. We’ve seen how contagious this virus is, and you still want people on the streets that too in a country like India which is ever so crowded. Shame on you to drag the Prime Minister into your lowly narrative. Maybe, you’re doing this at the behest of your political masters in the opposition or perhaps you’re one of those left-leaning media personalities running a rant. Take a break for god sakes!

  32. What a perverted lot, these self-proclaimed liberal commentators! Modi has not supplied these drugs to only the US, but to a lot of other countries who asked for it. Among them, many which do not have enough ICU facilities and wanted to try this in the absence of any proven medicine. One hopes these venomous individuals would take a break from their infection of anti-moditis at least for the time being.

  33. Is there any comment from the industry that there is a shortage of the drug. This is knee jerk anti-american ism. I thought we left it in the 80’s.

  34. Absolutely. I agree with Pramod Patil. So many if and buts just to assume the worst, om the other hand our government has taken proactive decisions right from the start. I remember Shekhar Gupta’s words in cut the clutter, “yeh tucchi ruchi” dawai se if we are getting attention and displaying our soft power where the whole world is going against china, I see no harm in it. Never forget most of the these drugs were discovered in those western world and they are really ahead in medical science. I belive the author is having preconceived notions and blinded by hatred.
    Thank you

  35. Good to see a rebuttal to SG with facts. He has been on a spree to white wash Modi and regular dose of hyper nationalism by usual Pakistan/Israel centric off the mill reports.

    To SGs credit, he allowed this to be published in his portal.

  36. Much Ado About Nothing.The only enlightenment from the Article is that the Author hates Modi Sekhar Gupta is right in his analysis.

  37. Supposing the reverse was the position,viz that USA has stocks of an cure for the disease,but also,like India has a population in need of this,and needs may go up,it may not goup,but who knows— and USA refused to release some of the cure for us,changed its mind and allowed a shipment after a phone call from Modi to Trump— would the writer still go bonkers over the decision?

  38. There are two issues here. One can we rely on Shekhar Gupta? I think he is a clever (शातिर) journalist. Often he comes up with such things. Rahul Kanwal is Shekhar Gupta in the making.
    Second issue about Government decision to lift the ban. Looks like it is only to elicit a “thank you my friend” tweet. Because Trump is neither going to conclude a favorable trade deal no will he lift visa restriction.

  39. Much ado about nothing. The author is indulging in pure Modi-hatred and is blind to facts on the ground. India has enough MCQ for itself, and only exports extra to US. What’s the harm in it?

  40. I wonder how you make such strong conclusions of national leadership in warzone without knowing the internal reasons for their decision. Ofcourse they won’t be doing their jobs if they had been explaining to you now rather than doing what is needed to handle the situation to the best of nation’s interest. Probably people who make such conclusions will know better, if they don’t assume that they know better of the facts on different aspects of the choices the leadership has or simply if they do not assume that they have more national interest than the leadership. Or is it an expression of compulsive behaviour to form and express strong opinions on leadership when one doesn’t have anything better to do?

  41. Usual rant by Modi hater –Kapil Komirodi. Don t you see whole world is in war mode. Decisions are taken, decisions are evaluated,, decisions can be re-evaluated every hour in times of war. It is not times of Nehruvian bureaucracy where files moved for grant of import /export licence in a pace proportion to lubrication of hush hush money . That India has discarded that system after suffering decades of stagnations in early nineties of last century when non dynasty politicians began to usurp the post of PM of India by quirk of fate . The Modi Government is not type of Government country was saddled with during first four decades after independence. It is able to meet and is meeting the challenge of pandemic Corona with full strength , using the available national resources — medical, para-medical, non-medical, medical and non-medical infrastructure , wisely and vigorously. The statistics of prevalence of pandemic Covid-19 for india viz a viz other countries till date reflect clearly whether Modi Governments and all state/UT s Governments of India have been successful in this endeavour. So please stop your rant against Modi or any state Government. . At this time of lock down most of the Indians switch on TV s , are on internet and have every minutes developments of anti-Corona war. Most of common people have figures of production of medicines., its stock level. So No Government can take anti-people decision . The decision to export critical medicines and medical equipment at this time is not only a business decision. It has some diplomatic dimensions also. This going to be an investment in goodwill. Modi ji and top policy makers of India knew it very well. The journalists of your level also need to keep this in mind while writing trash for your readers.

  42. I think the writer is so stupid he doesn’t understand how the word ‘Retaliation’ came about, the reporter while asking question to trump asked about a retaliation in case drugs were not supplied (maybe from media). Its often necessary for a good writer to understand and pay attention to detail. Well capability issues are everywhere in all forms of media but not to the extent where you start publicizing your own opinions.

  43. Lending a crutch to a lame paper tiger Modi has reduced many a good journalist to hogwashing. Unfortunately SG after such an impeccable career has to compete now with Modi prop veterans like Rahul Shivsankar Navika and the maestro Arnab. Sad. You have admirably nailed his argument in your article with grace and wit

  44. A total anti-climax ! I thought it is a suspense thriller ! I believed that the writer has after very diligent investigation found something and has to his/ her (I do not know) sleeve a link in the chronology which Shekhar Gupta had stupidly missed ! But this turns out a familiar ‘rantopinion’ about Modi and his brand of politics of which we have seen thousands !

    This write-up and its reasoning about Modi is ironically a ‘win-win’ situation. You cannot fault it. It is like you being accused as ‘you do not listen well’. And as soon as you try to explain, you are told ‘that is what I am telling you’ ! Mr. Modi is indefensible in front of this writers and alike. This is the reasoning sarcastically flown around in the social media comments ‘the food given to the poor during the lock down was ok but the salt was less’.

    By the way, the writer is fully entitled about his/her views about Modi. I am only saying that the way writer approached in this article’s title: ‘Shekhar Gupta is mistaken’, I thought a fact is going to be corrected by another fact. But it looks at least to me like that the ‘fact’ is being challenged by an ‘opinion’. I am sorry, that was a disappointment.

    So, Shekhar Gupta can relax now. No damage done to his reputation. He can continue, as the writer said, a ‘national treasure’. No need for him to even say that ‘he stands by his story’ !

    But my time was wasted in the sense that I read the whole thing with utmost attention and curiosity but it proved to be a damp squib !

  45. Unnecessary controversy.
    There has been graded response by modi on various issues. By author’s logic, there should not be any cooperation between individuals, nations in prevailing circumstances. Classic case of modi(arrhea)/bashing

  46. Mr. Komireddi has always been a Modi baiter. No wonder he argues against the facts presented by Mr. Shekhar Gupta in his column. Because irrespective of whether facts support or not, Mr. Modi and his administration must be pilloried.

  47. Their is enough stock of these medicines in our country. The stupid and foolish analysis is borne by the fact that INDIA is exporting these to Bhutan and Nepal and Bangladesh as well at this moment. In these times of economic hardship we are exporting and earning. MODIJI we share your concern for the nation.

  48. HCQ is probably all about politics and diplomacy . So let politicians benefit out of it. In all indication HCQ is no more than a placebo.

  49. Modi baiters like the present columnist will say anything. We have enough HCQ’s to supply the world’s genuine needs three times over. We need American and western European cooperation. India is being very circumspect in criticizing China in the face of China ‘s mishandling of the epidemic in the early stages. And rightly so.

  50. The decision to lift the ban is more compassionate. We cannot one the one hand tell our countrymen not to hoard food supplies and on the other hand set a bad example of hoarding HCQ. There may be a change in thinking whether propelled by a big daddy or a big heart (we don’t know) , the end result is more important.

  51. I think that the issue is blown out of proportion in this article. India has allowed export of this drug while ensuring availability of adequate stock for domestic consumption. So, where is the problem? Now read this news: Indian IT engineers working in the US whose H-1B visas are due to expire can extend their stay for up to eight months by applying for a visa extension because of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions. Not that the USA has done a great favour. But let us not forget that this decision has come just after India decided to ship the required drug to USA ( and other countries). The reciprocation is just and proportionate. But can we expect Trump to totally relax USA’s H1B visa policy just because India provided the surplus quantity of the required drug to them? These are unreasonable expectations.

    • The US might have extended the HI-B visa during this coronavirus pandemic on humaritarian grounds, and not as a reciprocation to anything. Remember that the US had also offered help to fight coronavirus, out of all, to Iran, whose economy Trump is otherwise hell bent to destroy by severe sanctions! And hasn’t India sought cooperation of SAARC countries, including Pakistan, to fight the coronavirus, creating a fund to which India and Pakistan both have contributed? Trump also wants to sell lot of things to India, especially th weapons. It recently sold weapons worth $3 billion, and would be too happy to sell more if India agrees to fight China in the Pacific on behalf of the US. Trump also wanted India to send troops to Afghanistan to fight Taliban, so that it can pool out from there! Trump’s reasoning was that India was a regional power in the area, and so it had to do some heavy lifting also to maintain peace there! Of course if India needed weapons for these adventures, he would be too happy to oblige and sell it weapons. Now consider this: Trump forced India to stop importing the oil from Iran, threatening sanctions if it didn’t comply! India complied, even at the cost of its long relationship with Iran. Why? Of course, in this case also Trump saw an opportunity to sell the US oil to India, and offered to oblige to do so, so that India may not experience any shortage of the oil. It is clear Modi doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of the US.

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