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Changing the Narrative

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on February 19, 2021 with No Comments

The media in India was busy in reporting the call made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Prime minister of India Narendra Modi.  It was an important call. Prime Minister Trudeau had sent strong signals about the ongoing farmers’ protest in India and New Delhi had not taken kindly to the his comments. After the call, Prime Minister Modi was at his best, calling Prime Minister called Trudeau “my friend” in a tweet. And it appeared these two leaders were on mending their relations that had gone sour. Yet somewhere down the line, the message conveyed and the messages implied had a lot of gaps. While Prime Minister Modi tweeted, Modi had said, “Was happy to receive a call from my friend @JustinTrudeau. Assured him that India would do its best to facilitate supplies of COVID vaccines sought by Canada. We also agreed to continue collaborating on other important issues like Climate Change and the global economic recovery.” On the other hand, the statement from Canada mentioned that PM Modi and PM Trudeau discussed the two countries’ “commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue,” in what appears to be a reference to the farmers’ protests in India, something which lacks mention in the India’s statement.

Such a mismatch can only be intentional and a well planned move. Countries naturally highlight what suits them, the foreign offices work to the needs of the political leadership. Trudeau mentioned “recent protests” in the official release by the Canadian government. There was no mention of that in the statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Instead, the Indian side emphasized Covid-19 and collaboration in fighting the pandemic. It also slipped in that Canada had asked New Delhi for vaccines. There was no reference to this request in the Canadian take of the conversation.

Instead, the Indian side emphasized Covid-19 and collaboration in fighting the pandemic. It also slipped in that Canada had asked New Delhi for vaccines. There was no reference to this request in the Canadian take of the conversation.

It is well known that rich countries are grabbing as much of the vaccines available today. Most of them are buying more than their need. Canada had invested one billion dollars earlier for funding vaccine research and getting hold of as many doses as possible. Canada has ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 40 million of the Moderna vaccine, 76 million of Pfizer’s vaccine and 38 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Beyond this does Canada need more? Some of the orders are for companies that have not yet come out with the finished product. Or is Canada asking for vaccines to help nations that have so far not got their share.

Canada is a member of the COVAX, a global collaboration to get Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries. COVAX has agreements in place to access nearly two billion doses of several vaccine candidates, which should be enough to protect the most vulnerable in eligible countries during the first half of 2021. With such resources available with Canada, does it need to ask for additional supplies from India? It doesn’t ! The impression so created by India is to shift the attention from the actual conversion that took place between Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Modi where other sensitive human rights related issues. Certainly there must have been compulsions for India to change the narrative.

 

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