Australia and India are comprehensive strategic partners with a rich history of multi-sectoral co-operation and commitment to shared democratic principles and rule of law. The people of Australia and India also interact widely and frequently—a crucial aspect of the bilateral relationship. From the cricket grounds where the country’s teams meet each year to the thousands of Indians who call Australia their home, the bond between Australia and India runs very deep. In commitment to this partnership, Australia extended support to India in its battle against the second wave of Covid-19. In an initial package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 27 April 2021, India received:
- 509 ventilators,
- 1 million surgical masks,
- 5,00,000 P2 and N95 masks,
- 1,00,000 surgical gowns,
- 1,00,000 goggles,
- 1,00,000 pairs of gloves, and
- 20,000 face shields.
In addition to this, Australia also promised to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables whose delivery to India was to be managed by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. At the same press conference, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women, Marise Payne, also lauded India for exporting 66 million doses of Covid-19 vaccinations. The minister acknowledged that India’s role in the global vaccination programme has been important in their own region, and in the Pacific at large.
Besides the aid that the Australian government has sent to India, the Australian state of Victoria, too, is sending medical aid worth $ 41 million that includes 1,000 ICU ventilators.
At the forefront of India’s battle against Covid-19 have been the country’s healthcare professionals. Recognising the contribution of nurses in particular, the Australia-based Institute of Health & Management (IHM) is offering scholarships worth INR 10 crore (AUD 2 million) to Indian nurses that would enable them to undertake a ‘Gateway to Global Nursing Programme.’ Each scholarship would be worth AUD 2,000. IHM is founded by Bijo Kunnumpurath who believes that this scholarship is a way to recognise the contribution of nurses to society.
Australia’s aid to India in these trying times is of great significance and would go a long way as India fights the second wave. The eager contribution is also testament to the strong bonds between the two countries which are likely to become stronger still going forward.